Board Discusses Race, Expectations, Achievement

October 24, 2007
Board Participates in Dialogue on Race, Expectations, and Student Achievement

The Board of Education met on Monday (October 22) and, among other items, engaged in a dialogue about race, expectations, and student achievement; forwarded additional comments to the County Council and county executive regarding the 2007 Growth Policy; and approved creation of a job description for a management and fiscal analyst position on the Board of Education staff.

Dialogue About Race: Expectations and Achievement

Two years ago, Montgomery County Public Schools “put race on the table” with the specific goal to become a school system where student achievement is no longer predictable by race. The Board of Education received an update on efforts to accomplish this goal and engaged in the first of a planned series of dialogues on this important topic.

Discussions about race, staff training, and classroom changes are advancing the progress already under way as a result of school system reform efforts begun in 1999 with the first edition of the school system’s strategic plan, Our Call to Action: Pursuit of Excellence.

The study of the impact of race on teaching and learning has shown that efforts to address the achievement gap must be waged on two fronts: facilitating individual transformation and eliminating institutional barriers.

MCPS has been working on both areas. Training is helping staff better understand their own culture and uncover personal attitudes and behaviors related to diverse groups. The Diversity Training and Development Team in the Office of Organizational Development (OOD) is providing training on race and equity for both central office and school-based staff. Between July 2007 and August 2007, the team provided nearly 14,000 hours of professional development to more than 1,000 individual staff members. OOD staff are being trained so that equity concepts can be integrated into all professional development.

Effort also is under way to build the capacity of all MCPS employees to identify and eliminate institutional barriers wherever they exist, such as the disproportionality in special education and gifted and talented programs.

Staff, administrators, and students from Ronald McNair, Strathmore, and Piney Branch elementary schools; Bethesda Chevy Chase High School; and Francis Scott Key Middle School provided information on successful initiatives that have increased access, rigor and equity at the local school level.

2007 Growth Policy Review—Additional Items

The Board adopted a resolution on October 9, 2007, in support of the Montgomery County Planning Board’s recommendation for the School Adequacy Test, school impact taxes, and the school facilities payment. At that meeting, it was indicated that the County Council’s Planning, Housing, and Economic Development Committee was interested in Board of Education comment on four proposed variations to the school test. After reviewing these items, the Board approved the following recommendations in a resolution to be forwarded to the County Council, the county executive, the Planning Board, and mayors and councils of Montgomery County municipalities:

- Maintain the five-year school test timeframe
- Do not institute staging ceilings in the school test
- Maintain current school test at the cluster level, not the individual school
- Allow a de minimus provision of three or fewer units
- Support an increase in the ‘schools’ increment of the recordation tax to $4.10/$1,000

Fiscal Analyst Position

During the FY 2008 Operating Budget session, the Board added funding for a fiscal analyst position in the Board Office in order to provide support to the Board in its oversight of the operating and capital budgets. Following the development by the Board Audit Committee of a preliminary outline of essential duties for the position, the Board voted to create a management and fiscal analyst position and to have the Board’s chief of staff develop a job description before hiring for the position.

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