Board of Education Discusses Middle School Improvement; Takes Action on Policies, and Discusses County Report on High School Performance

April 30, 2014
The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Among other items, the Board received an update on the Middle School Improvement Framework, took tentative action on Policy BLB (Rules of Procedure in Appeals and Hearings), discussed the Montgomery County Office of Legislative Oversight’s report on the performance of MCPS high schools, and made several appointments. The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website. You can also watch the video of the meeting by clicking here.

Policy BLB, Rules of Procedure in Appeals and Hearings (Tentative Action)
The Board tentatively approved changes to Policy BLB, Rules of Procedure in Appeals and Hearings. The updated policy provides Rules of Procedure that govern all appeals to the Board and all hearings before the Board requested by persons who are adversely affected by a recommendation or final decision of the superintendent of schools. This policy does not apply to decisions that are specifically required by statute or bylaws of the Maryland State Board of Education or Board policies/Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) regulations, such as those applicable to special education and student transfer appeals. This policy is being updated in order to comply with the new Maryland State Department of Education’s regulations regarding student discipline, which must be implemented by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.  Policy BLB will now be distributed for public comment.  In order to comply with MSDE’s timeline, public comments on the policy must be submitted by May 29, 2014, so that the Board can consider the policy for final approval in June. 
See the changes in the policy

Policy JEE, Student Transfers (Update)
The Board received an update regarding Policy JEE, Student Transfers. The Board considered changes to Policy JEE last year, but on November 12, 2013, referred the policy back to the Policy Management Committee for additional review and recommendations concerning the impact of the proposed changes.  Staff formed a work group to review and consider options for the issues that arose concerning the policy.  The work group recommended to the Committee that the further study be conducted on issues that have arisen from discussions about Policy JEE and be incorporated into a more comprehensive review of all factors related to Special, Choice, and Signature Programs in MCPS. The Committee informed the Board that it would resume its work on Policy JEE after the completion of the comprehensive review.

Read the Board memo

Middle School Update
The Board received an update and held a discussion on the middle school improvement framework. The Middle School Support and Improvement Team has worked with stakeholders across the system to develop a school improvement approach that builds upon previous middle school initiatives and aligns new work with the Strategic Planning Framework. The Strategic Planning Framework incorporates three competencies that students need for success in the 21st century—academic excellence, creative problem solving, and social emotional learning—as well as a continued commitment to operational excellence. A critical component of the framework is the process by which the district will measure the health of the school system and its efforts to close the achievement gap. Five districtwide milestones have been established to measure student progress, with two milestones that focus on the middle school years. 

The middle school improvement efforts are guided by the belief that when adolescent learners are engaged in relevant, rigorous and culturally responsive learning experiences, all students have an opportunity to thrive. The middle school improvement strategy will strengthen students’ literacy and mathematics skills across the content areas and monitor progress through the electronic portfolios that enable students to account for their middle school experiences. The district has identified four approaches to begin middle school improvement efforts:

·  Curriculum Focus: Literacy and Mathematics Across All Content Areas with an Emphasis on Writing
·  Student Performance: Academic and Personal Goals
·  Student Story: An e-portfolio that allows students to demonstrate their learning and progress
·  Professional Development for staff
The strategies will be piloted at five middle schools during the 2014-2015 school year and will expand to include all 38 middle schools by 2016. 

Read the Board memo

OLO Report: Performance of MCPS High Schools
The Board held a discussion on the Montgomery County Office of Legislative Oversight’s (OLO) report on the performance of MCPS high schools. The report updates OLO’s 2009 high school consortia report, describing changes in the demographics and performance of the district’s high schools.

Superintendent Joshua Starr and members of the Board of Education recognized that MCPS, like all school districts, has an achievement gap. Dr. Starr and members of the Board expressed reservations about the methodology used by the OLO and some of the findings that attribute demographic shifts only to the school system.

Eliminating the achievement gap is at the core of MCPS’ strategic priorities. MCPS employs a focused strategy of dismantling institutional barriers to rigorous coursework, disaggregating and analyzing data, and initiating conversations about ensuring equity. The district allocates resources according to student need by investing more in schools with high needs. The Board of Education’s Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget request includes funds for specific plans and programs to address the gap.

Read MCPS’ Response

Read the OLO Report

Attendance Boundaries for Wilson Wims ES

The Board voted not to consider changing the attendance boundaries for Wilson Wims Elementary School, which will open in the Clarksburg Cluster this August. In November, the Board established boundaries for the new school after receiving recommendations from a Boundary Advisory Committee in accordance with Board Policy FAA—
Long-range Educational Facilities Planning. After hearing from some members of the community, a board member introduced a motion on March 24, 2014, to revise the boundaries in order to allow the Fountain View neighborhood to remain at Little Bennett Elementary School and move the Aurora Hills neighborhood to the Wilson Wims Elementary School. The Board discussed the item and voted 3-3 on the motion. The motion needed four votes to pass.  

Administrative Appointments

The Board of Education approved the following administrative appointments:

Debra A. Berner, currently executive director, Office of the Chief Operating Officer, as director, Department of Student Services, Office of Special Education and Student Services

Warren Wade Coplen, currently acting director, Skillful Teaching and Leading, as director, Skillful Teaching and Learning

Lynne Zarate, currently acting director, Division of Maintenance, as director, Division of Maintenance

Matthew A. Devan, currently principal, Viers Mill Elementary School, as director of School Support and Improvement of Elementary Schools, Office of School Support and Improvement

Audra M. Fladung, currently principal, Stonegate Elementary School, as director of School Support and Improvement of Elementary Schools, Office of School Support and Improvement

Kurshanna L. Johnson, currently acting supervisor, Division of Enriched and Innovative Instruction, as supervisor, Division of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction, Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs

Debra K. Mugge, currently president, Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals, as principal, Wheaton High School

Joe L. Rubens, Jr., currently acting principal, John F. Kennedy High School, as principal, John F. Kennedy High School

Stacy A. Ashton, currently principal intern, Stonegate Elementary School, as principal, Burnt Mills Elementary School

Cynthia A. Houston, currently acting principal, Pine Crest Elementary School, as principal, Pine Crest Elementary School

Matthew F. Kerwin, currently acting magnet coordinator, Eastern Middle School, as magnet coordinator, Eastern Middle School

Other Action: The Board also took action on several items, including: 

Appointed an architectural firm for the Walt Whitman HS addition project feasibility study

Resolutions: The Board approved the following resolutions:

A resolution recognizing April 6-12, 2014, as National Volunteer Week
-A resolution recognizing April 13-19, 2014, as National Student Leadership Week
-A resolution declaring the month of May 2014 as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
-A resolution declaring May 5 – 9, 2014, as Teacher Appreciation Week in Montgomery County Public Schools
Future Meetings

The Board’s Strategic Planning Committee will meet on Tuesday, May 6 at 9 a.m. The Fiscal Management Committee will meet on Monday, May 12 at 10 a.m. The Board’s next regular business meeting will be held May 13, with public items scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.  
Please check the Board of Education meeting calendar for further information

About the Board of Education

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.

Montgomery County Board of Education: Mr. Philip Kauffman, president; Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, vice president. Members: Mr. Christopher Barclay, Ms. Shirley Brandman, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Michael Durso, Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski, and Mr. Justin Kim, student member. Dr. Joshua P. Starr, superintendent and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617.

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