Board Discusses Suspensions, Accelerated & Enriched Instruction

September 9, 2009
Board of Education Discusses Suspension Rates, Accelerated and Enriched Instruction, and Opening of Schools

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, September 8, and, among other items, discussed reduction of suspensions and the sequence of accelerated and enriched instruction. The Board also received an update on the opening of schools, approved an administrative appointment, approved a resolution declaring the school system a partner for the 2010 Census, and recognized Hispanic Heritage Month.

Goal 1: Ensure Success for Every Student—Reduction of Suspensions
The Board of Education discussed progress made during the 2008–2009 school year to help eliminate the disproportionate suspension rates of African American, Hispanic, and special education students. Although work remains to be done, 2008–2009 saw the lowest number of out-of-school suspensions in the last five years for MCPS at all school levels and a decrease in the level of disproportionality in suspension rates. This includes steep declines in out-of-school suspension rates for each racial/ethnic group and special education students. Recommendations being implemented are based on the concepts of reducing suspensions by focusing on teaching/learning and their effects on student engagement and behavior development, and on identifying alternative responses to inappropriate behavior. The M-Stat Suspension Team continues to work on ensuring consistent implementation of the recommendations and on providing a systemwide infrastructure for monitoring progress. Board President Shirley Brandman said, “Our efforts to reduce suspensions reinforce our commitment to every child. It translates into one of the most powerful messages to our children: We are not giving up on you, we are here to support you, and we want you in school.” Board Member Judy Docca said, “I commend staff on the huge effort made last year to reduce suspensions and to assist our students. Staff's efforts continue to keep our students in school, while teaching students how to better handle situations so troubling behavior is not repeated. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are off to a great start in dealing with this very complex issue.”

Goal 2: Provide an Effective Instructional Program—Sequence of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction
The Board discussed ongoing efforts to increase enrollment and improve performance of all students in advanced-level courses. The number of MCPS students enrolling in and successfully completing advanced-level courses continues to rise. MCPS has been working to develop a systemwide process to ensure that all students’ strengths are identified, that they have access to challenging curriculum and instruction, and that parents receive timely communication about their child’s instructional program. This process is helping meet the goal of increasing all students’ enrollment and performance in gifted, Honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and other college-level courses, with a focus on improving enrollment and performance of African American and Hispanic students. “The presentation at the Board table on the pilot to be phased in at 25 elementary schools is exciting,” said Board Vice President Pat O’Neill. “It will provide better monitoring in the schools, better communication with parents and ultimately multiple opportunities for students to articulate into accelerated and enriched instruction.” Board Member Judy Docca said, “I was very pleased to hear in the presentation that we are no longer putting our students in an academic box based upon one assessment in second grade. It is vitally important that we continue to recognize and meet the needs of all our students, and I believe this streamlined process will assist in that endeavor.”

The Board of Education approved the following administrative appointment:

Peter M. Ostrander, currently secondary program supervisor, Division of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction, as magnet coordinator, Montgomery Blair High School

Readiness for Opening Schools
The Board heard presentations and discussed the school system’s readiness for the opening of schools.

MCPS–U.S. Census Partnership Agreement
The Board passed a resolution declaring it is an official partner with the U.S. Census Bureau for the 2010 Census. The U.S. Census documents a count of everyone living in the United States every 10 years. As a unique link with families and communities, schools can facilitate the dissemination of critical information about the importance of everyone’s participation in the Census, to reflect a more accurate count of traditionally undercounted communities.

Hispanic Heritage Month
The Board declared September 15 to October 15, 2009, as Hispanic Heritage Month, honoring Hispanic American or Latino students, staff members, businesses, and community leaders who are contributing to the success of Hispanic students in Montgomery County Public Schools. Hispanic Americans or Latinos currently represent 22.1 percent of the overall enrollment of MCPS. These students increased their participation in Advanced Placement exams from 696 students taking at least one AP exam in 2007 to 742 students taking at least one AP exam in 2008.

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Montgomery County Board of Education: Ms. Shirley Brandman, president; Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, vice president. Members: Mr. Christopher Barclay, Ms. Laura Berthiaume, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Michael Durso, Mr. Phil Kauffman, and Mr. Timothy Hwang, student member. Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617.
The Montgomery County Board of Education is the official educational policymaking body in the county. The Board is responsible for the direction and operation of the public school system. The Board consists of seven county residents elected by voters for a four-year term and a student elected by secondary school students for a one-year term. Board members are elected countywide but run at-large or from the Board district in which they reside.

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