Board of Education Receives Update on Opening of Schools; Takes Tentative Action on Policies; and Discusses Workforce Diversity Initiative

September 11, 2015

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, September 8, 2015, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Among other items, the Board received an update on the opening of schools; took tentative action on policies on grading and reporting and the school calendar; discussed Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Teacher Workforce Diversity Initiative; and approved preliminary plans for two school construction projects. The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website. You also can watch the video of the meeting by clicking here.

Policy IKA, Grading and Reporting
The Board took tentative action on revisions to Policy IKA, Grading and Reporting, which guides the process for evaluating and reporting student progress, so that it is understandable to students and parents, and is relevant for instructional purposes. The policy now will be posted for public comment until October 19, 2015. The Board also endorsed Interim Superintendent of Schools Larry Bowers’ plan to eliminate two-hour semester final exams and replace them with centrally-developed marking period assessments. The main change in Policy IKA is adjusting language to replace references to final exams with references to marking period assessments. Under the revisions proposed, the results of marking period assessments still would be a meaningful portion of the final marking period grade. Currently, semester final exams count 25 percent of a student’s final grade. MCPS has developed four options for calculating grades in high school courses that currently have a semester final exam. As the Board receives public input on the policy changes, MCPS will consider public feedback on the four options.

More information about the policy changes, the grading options, and how to provide feedback can be found on the MCPS Assessment Strategy website.

See the revised policy

Policy IDA, School Year Calendar
The Board tentatively has approved a new policy that will guide procedures to develop, adopt, and disseminate a school year calendar. Policy IDA, School Year Calendar, is being posted for public comment until October 9, 2015, and will ensure that the MCPS calendar meets the educational and operational needs of the district and complies with all relevant state and federal laws. Among the items covered in the policy:

  • development, adoption, and dissemination of the school year calendar;
  • days on which there will be no school for students and/or staff, including state public school holidays and other days approved by the Board; and
  • the process for considering whether school should be closed on certain days because of operational impact, such as high absenteeism among students and staff.

The public can learn more about the new policy and provide comments using an online comment form on the MCPS website.

The new policy comes as Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has worked to improve communication about this important issue, including a new calendar tool and guidelines for respecting religious diversity.

See the draft policy

Opening of Schools
The Board of Education heard a report from MCPS staff on the opening of schools. MCPS welcomed more than 156,000 students on Monday, August 31, 2015, an increase of 2,600 students from 2014. MCPS hired more than 800 new teachers during the summer to support the district’s growing enrollment. The district also opened more than 90,000 square feet as a result of new construction projects, including addition projects at Clarksburg High School and Bethesda, North Chevy Chase, Rosemary Hills, and Arcola elementary schools. This year, MCPS will expand its technology initiative, which seeks to provide mobile devices—mainly Chromebook laptops—and an online learning environment to all students. Last school year, the Chromebooks were placed in all Grade 3, 5, and 6 classrooms, as well as high school social studies classrooms. This school year, the devices will be placed in all Grade 4 classes and about 150 Grade 7 classes. Later school starting and ending times also have gone into effect for all schools.  In February 2015, the Board decided to push school starting and ending times later to give students—especially teenagers—extra time to sleep. Middle and high schools are starting and ending 20 minutes later than last year and elementary schools are starting 10 minutes later and ending 20 minutes later.

Teacher Workforce Diversity
The Board heard a presentation from MCPS staff and held a wide-ranging discussion on the district’s Teacher Workforce Diversity Initiative. This initiative builds on the MCPS District Implementation Plan Core Strategy III, Human Capital Management, which entails recruiting, retaining, and developing the best workforce in public education.

The initiative, which is the result of a systemwide collaboration that includes the Montgomery County Education Association, the Service Employees International Union Local 500, and the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals, comprises strategies in four key areas: recruitment, selection, retention, and internal talent.

The focus of MCPS has been to increase the quality and diversity of its teacher workforce by revising and refocusing its recruitment, selection, and retention processes to emphasize workforce diversity and to expand and redesign local teacher pipeline programs that develop the internal talent within MCPS. Last spring, the Office of Human Resources and Development accelerated staffing timelines in order to attract highly qualified teachers with diverse backgrounds. Additionally, MCPS is developing practices to enhance teacher retention and build pipelines of diverse cohorts of teacher candidates through talent development programs that will lead to certification in teaching.

Read the Board memo

Facilities and School Construction
The Board approved the following item related to school construction projects and facilities:

The Board approved the following resolution:

Future Meetings

The Board will hold its next regular business meeting on Monday, September 21, 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 Mr. Eric Guerci, student member. Mr. Larry A. Bowers, interim superintendent of schools and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617.

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