Board of Education Hears Presentation on PARCC Assessments; Discusses Unaccompanied Minors and Positions on Legislation

March 11, 2015

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, March 10, 2015, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Among other items, the Board heard a presentation from MCPS staff on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exams; received an update on how MCPS is serving unaccompanied youth; and discussed its position on legislative issues. 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.

Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers
The Board of Education received a presentation from MCPS staff and held a discussion on the administration of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams. This school year, the Performance Based Assessments (PBA) portion of PARCC is being administered from March 2 through March 26. The End of Year (EOY) assessments of PARCC are scheduled to be administered from April 20 through May 15.

During the 2013-2014 school year, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) participated in the PARCC field test. Following the field test, the Office of Shared Accountability (OSA) and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) collected data from schools about their experience with the test administration and the supports central services staff provided. Feedback indicated that schools needed additional professional development with setting up test sessions, getting students started with the online tests, and ensuring that technical configurations were in place before the testing window began. The preparations, professional development, support and technical training have been occurring throughout this school year. Teachers have had access to professional learning online and various training opportunities each summer. As part of the next implementation phase of the MCPS Strategic Technology Plan, on July 15, 2014, the Board of Education approved a multiyear technology initiative to provide students with access to mobile computers and a cloud-based learning platform to enhance creativity and collaboration in the classroom. The technologies that were selected as part of this initiative meet the requirements for PARCC testing devices and will be used across the district to fulfill PARCC testing guidelines.

Staff reported that the administration of the assessments was going well, so far, and there were few problems across the district.

Read the memo to the Board

Unaccompanied Youth—Children Fleeing Violence
The Board discussed the increased enrollment of unaccompanied youth in MCPS and the collaborative efforts to respond to the academic and social emotional needs of international students and their families. The term unaccompanied minors has been used in news reports regarding the immigration of children, particularly those from the following three Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Conditions in Central America, including reports of high poverty, violence, lack of opportunity, and governmental instability were noted as contributing factors in these increases. While international students—including those who come to the area unaccompanied by an adult—have been enrolling in MCPS for many years, there have been significant changes in the number of students enrolling in MCPS from Central American countries and the increased needs for social supports.

The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has been working to place some of the unaccompanied minors in locations throughout the country, including Montgomery County. As of January 31, 2015, 144 students have been enrolled in MCPS schools through ORR. Regardless of how children arrive in the county, MCPS has a legal and moral obligation to ensure they receive an education and have access to the services they need. MCPS has been working with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the Montgomery County Office of Community Partnerships, as well as other agencies and non-profits to provide support services to these students and their families.

Read the memo to the Board

MCPS Defined Contribution Plans
The Board voted unanimously to award Fidelity Investments the contract to administer MCPS’ 403(b)/457(b) Tax-Sheltered Savings Plans. On September 23, 2014, the Board voted to move MCPS from its current nine vendor structure to one recordkeeper. An advisory work group conducted a comprehensive review of the operation and administration of the Defined Contribution Plans and made several recommendations to the Board that were designed to improve the administration and operation of these plans and save money for participants. The changes go into effect on January 1, 2016.

Read the memo to the Board

Positions on Education Legislation
The Board discussed several pieces of legislation that are currently being considered by the Maryland General Assembly. The Board voted to support a bill that would strengthen a state advisory council that is working to improve the health and educational outcomes of students who receive services from school-based health centers. The Board also voted to support a bill that would prohibit nonpublic schools and local boards of education from hiring contractors or subcontractors, who have been convicted of certain crimes. In addition, this bill would require contractors and subcontractors who have direct, unsupervised, and uncontrolled access to children to submit a criminal history records check.

Read the recommended Board positions (NOTE: Actual Board votes on these pieces of legislation may differ from staff recommendations.)   

Monthly Financial Report and School Calendar
The interim superintendent of schools and the Board discussed concerns regarding extending the school year because of missed days resulting from inclement weather this winter.  Given that the district has used more than its allotted number of snow days, the Board approved a motion permitting the interim superintendent of schools to seek a waiver from the state for up to three days.

Future Meetings

The Board will hold its next regular business meeting on Monday, March 30, 2015. 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: Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, president; Mr. Michael Durso, vice president. Members: Mr. Christopher Barclay, Dr. Judy Docca, Mr. Philip Kauffman, Ms. Jill Ortman-Fouse, Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski, and Ms. Dahlia Huh, student member. Mr. Larry A. Bowers, interim superintendent and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617.


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