Board Discusses Achievement Gap, Parent Involvement Policy

January 15, 2010

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, January 12, and, among other items, discussed the Deputy’s Minority Academic Achievement Council Report and took tentative action on the revised Parental Involvement policy. The Board also discussed High School Plus and the integrated kindergarten curriculum, approved preliminary plans for modernization of Gaithersburg High School and facility improvements to Ridgeview Middle School, and passed a resolution honoring February as African American History Month.

Deputy’s Minority Academic Achievement Council Report
The Board of Education discussed the Deputy’s Minority Achievement Advisory Council report, Closing the Gap: Recommendations for Improving Minority Student Achievement in Montgomery County Public Schools. The report recommends an organizational focus on customer service and two-way communication, where MCPS is fully engaged in conversation and partnership with students, parents/guardians, and community members. In developing the report, council members met with Department of Family and Community Partnerships (DFCP) staff to assess how to enhance and align their endeavors with work currently under way in DFCP. The report recommends three focus areas:

  • Engagement, to implement a systematic, shared-responsibility approach to effective family engagement.
  • Clarity, to engage in conversation with all stakeholders aimed toward mutual understanding of a clear roadmap to success.
  • Fairness, to increase existing efforts to decrease the disproportionately high suspension rates for minority students.

The report offers specific recommendations that include staff development, welcoming and engaging families and communities, further supporting students’ efforts to prepare for college and the workforce, and improving efforts to reduce suspensions.
Read the report.

Tentative Action on Policy ABC, Parental Involvement
The Board gave tentative approval to revised Policy ABC, Parental Involvement. The policy sets forth guidelines for encouraging parent and family involvement in the school community to support children’s education, healthy development, and well-being. The revised policy aligns with research-based national standards for family–school partnerships. The policy will now be sent out for public comment before the Board takes final action.  Information will published soon on the Board’s website.

Update on High School Plus
The Board discussed an update on High School Plus (HS+), a program created three years ago for struggling students to be successful and engage in rigorous academics. HS+ allows high school students to earn required graduation credits at their respective home schools. A three-tiered approach enables students to access courses through repeater sections offered during the school day; students also may enroll in full-semester courses and credit-recovery classes offered as components of the extended-day program. Through HS+, about 1,500 student grades were reported in the first semester and about 2,000 grades reported in the second semester of both FY 2008 and FY 2009. During this school year, a pilot program—Online Pathway to Graduation Program—is enabling current and former MCPS high school students who need three credits or fewer for graduation to take online courses.

Update on Integrated Kindergarten Curriculum
The Board received an update on the new Integrated Kindergarten Curriculum, designed to provide teachers with a single-source online instructional guide. The new integrated model, which builds on the existing curriculum, shows connections among all subjects and provides teachers with instructional strategies and resources for all content areas. The new model, now on a SharePoint site available to all elementary school staff, is being used voluntarily this school year by about 90 schools. The Integrated Kindergarten Curriculum will be moved into the new MCPS online learning community for full implementation in the 2010–2011 school year, enabling teachers to share lessons and resources as well as rate and comment on all resources. Feedback collected this school year will be used to help develop integrated curricula for Grades 1–5.

New Business Item
The Board voted to convene a special work session in the summer of 2010 to begin the process of addressing the following: a comprehensive review of the FACT assessment tool; plans to reassess remaining schools for modernization; the optimal proposed schedule for modernizing schools, including the adequacy of our holding facilities; consideration of any changes to the Capital Improvements Priorities list; and alternatives to MCPS’ current contracting methods that might shorten and accelerate the pace of already planned projects, including alternative financing methods for school construction.

The Board approved the following administrative appointment:

  • Laura Newton, currently director of Guidance and College and Career Services at T.C. Williams High School (Alexandria, Virginia), as supervisor, School Counseling Services Unit

Gaithersburg HS Modernization and Ridgeview MS Facility Improvements
The Board approved preliminary architectural schematic design reports for the Gaithersburg High School modernization project and the Ridgeview Middle School improvements project.

African American History Month
The Board approved a resolution declaring the month of February 2010 as African American History Month, noting that African Americans have contributed significantly through distinguished leadership in many fields, including the sciences, medicine, education, law, government, religion, the arts, and the humanities. The Board and superintendent of schools encourage staff, students, parents, and the community to actively honor the contributions of African Americans in the county, state, and nation and enhance awareness of the impact of attitudes and expectations on the achievement of African American students.

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Montgomery County Board of Education: Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, president; Mr. Christopher Barclay, vice president. Members: Ms. Laura Berthiaume, Ms. Shirley Brandman, 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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