Board Discusses High School Assessment Graduation Requirements

May 13, 2009
Board of Education Discusses High School Assessment Graduation Requirements, SAT/ACT Participation and Performance

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, May 12, and, among other items, discussed the state’s High School Assessment (HSA) graduation requirements and student participation and performance on SAT/ACT exams. The Board also approved Policy AEB, Strategic Planning for Continuous Improvement, and rescinded two other policies. In addition, the Board approved the appointment of eight new administrators, including five new principals; and passed resolutions honoring MCPS Food and Nutrition Services personnel and NAACP scholarship recipients.

Update on High School Assessments/Graduation
The Board of Education received a staff briefing and discussed the status of this year’s senior class, with regard to their status on the state’s High School Assessments (HSAs) and graduation requirements. Students in the Class of 2009 are the first who are required to pass the HSAs – in four subject areas: English, algebra, biology and government -- to earn a Maryland diploma. As it became obvious that not all students in the state would meet the requirement to pass all HSAs in this first year of implementation, the State Board of Education approved a series of modifications that would provide alternative options for students who have either not passed an HSA after multiple attempts or have not had the opportunity to take the exams by their senior year. These include an option for eligible students to complete “Bridge Plan for Academic Validation” projects, which can be completed by students who have failed one or more HSAs multiple times. Also, the State Board created an HSA waiver option for students, such as English Language Learners, who may not have had the opportunity to complete certain courses in time to pass all of the HSAs.

MCPS has developed processes and procedures to support the various options for meeting the graduation requirements, including creating an HSA Steering Committee. Staff also developed support materials for students and teachers, new technologies for monitoring student progress, and a new HSA workshop preparation course. Since September 2008, 629 seniors have submitted 1,880 Bridge Plan projects in the four content areas, and as of May 4, about 296 students in the Class of 2009 have met their HSA graduation requirements by completing Bridge Plan projects. Of the remaining students, some either passed the test or achieved a combined HSA passing score after submitting projects, and some must submit revised projects. Others became eligible for waivers and some are continuing to work on projects to be submitted prior to graduation. Planning is already underway to support the Class of 2010 in meeting the MSDE graduation requirements.

Final Approval of Policy AEB, Strategic Planning for Continuous Improvement
Following a public comment period, the Board adopted the revised Policy AEB, Strategic Planning for Continuous Improvement. The policy sets forth the Board’s strong commitment to strategic planning and to aligning the school system budget with the strategic plan. The revised policy reflects the Board’s commitment to include staff members, students, parents, and other community members on the School Improvement Team for each school.

Rescission of Policies CFA, Site-based Participatory Management, and DBA, Budget Preparation and Procedures
Following completion of revision of Policy AEB, Strategic Planning for Continuous Improvement, the Board rescinded Policy CFA, Site-based Participatory Management, because it is no longer a model for parental involvement in the school improvement process. The Board also rescinded Policy DBA, Budget Preparation and Procedures, because the strategic planning policy has been revised to reflect the alignment of the budget preparation process with the strategic plan and to outline the opportunities for community input into the budget preparation process.

Position on County Bill 4-09: Development Impact Tax Deferral
The Board passed a resolution urging the County Council to safeguard the schedule for projects in the six-year Capital Improvements Program and to not delay any more projects that were scheduled for Fiscal Year 2010, in relation to the current County legislation for Expedited Bill 4-09. This follows a recent reduction of $12 million less than expected in State aid for capital projects for FY 2010.

College Readiness Measurements—SAT/ACT/Accuplacer Exams
The Board discussed a key component of the MCPS strategic plan, particularly that of measuring students’ readiness for college. Key indicators for measuring college readiness include SAT and ACT participation and performance. Another such indicator would be student performance on the Accuplacer assessment, which is used by Montgomery College and a number of other colleges, as a means of determining course placement levels. MCPS has created a variety of support mechanisms and interventions that help to ensure equitable access and greater opportunities for student success on each of these college entry or placement exams.

Administrative Appointments
The Board approved the appointment of eight new MCPS administrators, including five new school principals:

Debra Mugge, currently principal, Argyle Middle School, as the new principal of Springbrook High School (effective July 1);
Deborah R. Higdon, currently assistant principal, Kingsview Middle School, as principal, Lakelands Park Middle School (effective July 1);
Donna R. Jones, currently assistant principal, Rosa M. Parks Middle School, as principal, Rosa M. Parks Middle School (effective July 1);
Rock A. Palmisano, currently principal intern, Bells Mill Elementary School, as principal, Carderock Springs Elementary School (effective July 1);
Daniel Walder, currently acting principal, Bannockburn Elementary School, as principal, Bannockburn Elementary School (effective May 13).
Steven Neff, currently director, Student Services, Upcounty Field Office, as director, Pupil Personnel Services (effective July 1);
Jevoner F. Adams, currently director, Department of Student Services, as supervisor, Student Services Appeals Unit (effective July 1);
Rebecca A. Amani-Dove, currently acting administrative assistant, Office of Shared Accountability, as administrative assistant, Office of Shared Accountability (effective May 13).

Salute to School Food and Nutrition Services Personnel
The Board approved a resolution recognizing Food and Nutrition Services personnel in honor of the 24th annual Salute to School Food and Nutrition Services Personnel Day in MCPS. The school cafeteria and the services provided by its personnel to students, faculty, and other staff are an integral part of the operations of the school system. Thirteen million meals are served annually to Montgomery County school children under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program, and MCPS personnel also offer a variety of nutrition services to the community.

Recognition of NAACP Scholarship Recipients
The Board recognized nine students who were awarded $1,000 scholarships by the Montgomery County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “Change you can believe in: How the election of Barack Obama will affect your life” was the theme of this year’s competition. NAACP scholarship recipients included:

Chantel Le-Shay Broxton, Northwest High School
Tyeisha Crutchfield, Watkins Mill High School
Robel Tekle Desta, Springbrook High School
Gretta Digbeu, Watkins Mill High School
Lauren Haynes, Col. Zadok Magruder High School
Shannon Lawrence, Sherwood High School
Dereck W. Paul, Jr., Northwest High School
Kashira Turner, Watkins Mill High School
Lloyd P. Henry, III, Poolesville High School

Portable Communication Devices During Lunch Periods
The Board postponed action on a resolution requesting the superintendent to assign staff to review and revise Regulation COG-RA, Portable Communication Devices, to permit secondary students to use their portable communication devices during their designated lunch periods. The item will be addressed at the June 9 Board meeting.

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