Statement from Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight

February 2, 2024

Dear MCPS students, staff, and families:

As the superintendent of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), I have been committed to serving children and their educational needs for 23 years. It has been my purpose in life to give every single student a high-quality education that will open the doors to any opportunity they pursue.  I can remember my first day in the classroom in MCPS in August of 2001 when I fell in love with the children I served, the school that supported them, the families who connected with the children, and the many colleagues who alongside me committed our life’s mission to this work. To this day, it still gives me that joy when I walk into classrooms in our great system and see this same love and joy in action. 

However, in life things change, and I have lived long enough to understand that. But I am aware of “My Why,” and that must be focused on the students and those who serve them. I have felt over the past several months, there has been a distraction. When the focus is no longer on whom I have agreed to serve, I must control my own fate. I have also maintained that it is critical that my reputation remains grounded in facts and truth. Effective today, after careful reflection, prayer, and willingness to demand fairness, I have reached a mutually agreed separation with the Board of Education.

As the MCPS superintendent since the pandemic, my vision has been “All Together Now,” which required us to work together on behalf of our students. While it is abundantly clear that my vision for the system can no longer come to fruition, I know that we are on the right track, so continue the great work for our students!

I just shared yesterday with over 450 principals, administrators, central office staff, and district leaders the progress that has been made in early literacy when comparing Fall 2023 with Fall 2024, as we make strides to overcome the impact the pandemic had on the achievement and social-emotional well-being of our students and staff. That progress is a direct result of the dedicated staff who implemented the priorities I identified to improve teaching and learning, which started with our theory of action:

If we differentiate resources and support, build staff capacity, and implement accountability structures, then we will have clarified expectations for what students and adults should know and be able to do, increased adult expertise, and improved student learning outcomes.

The results listed below are factual data points that are a result of successful implementation of that theory of action:

  • Early Literacy Progress: The fall 2023 assessment results indicate progress in students' foundational reading skills. Across all grade levels, a greater percentage of students scored at or above benchmark compared to fall 2022. Specifically, 49.9% of kindergarten students, 58.0% of Grade 1 students, and 60.4% of Grade 2 students achieved at or above benchmark status. 
  • Immersion/Language Program Results: Students in the One-Way Immersion (OWI) and Two-Way Immersion (TWI) programs took the Lectura assessment and also demonstrated improvements. In fall 2023, 58.3% of kindergarten, 50.6% of Grade 1, and 51.5% of Grade 2 students scored at or above benchmarks on the Lectura assessment, highlighting positive gains compared to fall 2022.
  • Elementary school mathematics: Based on the students who have completed their Grade 3 mathematics district assessment, the results from first quarter to second quarter have increased significantly in schools where we have invested in an instructional math coach—with up to a 35-percentage point gain. More specifically, across the district, based on preliminary results, elementary schools have achieved a 25.4 percentage point increase in the number of students who are demonstrating understanding on the district assessment for multiplication and division. And schools with our mathematics coaches have exceeded the average district growth, with between 25.7 and 42 percentage point gains.
  • Closing Gaps Academically: We have committed to eliminating predictability by race/ethnicity in educational outcomes. While gaps persist, progress is evident in DIBELS and Lectura results across racial/ethnic groups. Improvement is happening with students at or above benchmark by racial group in 2022 versus 2023 and is as follows: 75.9% vs. 77.4% Asian, 56.4% vs. 61.5% Black or African American, 28.6% vs. 34.6% Hispanic/Latino, 64.7% vs. 69.9% Two or More Races; and 65.8% vs. 68.6% White. These are significant rises in student achievement and although greater improvement is needed, this data shows movement in a positive direction in literacy development.

These factual data points have been achieved in collaboration with some of the most skilled staff that I have had the pleasure of working alongside over my 23 years in MCPS. MCPS staff are very deserving of the approximately 7% salary increase received at the beginning of this school year and the at least 3% raise set for July 2024 as a result of a successful 2-year agreement with the associations. These are the largest increases ever provided for our staff, who are most deserving of it.

I will always put children in the forefront because they are the future leaders, business owners, homeowners, and parents of Montgomery County. It has been an absolute pleasure to serve our students, staff and families. This community is near and dear to my heart, and you have left a lasting impression on me. You should know that I will take all that I have learned, endured, and lifted — combined with my faith and foundation — to continue to serve in significant ways in my next journey.

For every student that I inspired and served, continue to be and do your best. For every staff member, remember your “why” to fill your cup daily; and to our parents, thank you for entrusting me to serve your children. It was an honor to do so.

Dr. Monifa B. McKnight

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