Board of Education Votes to Close Schools on Eid al-Adha; Discusses Career Readiness; and Takes Action on Grading and Reporting Policy

November 11, 2015

The Montgomery County Board of Education met on Tuesday, November 10, 2015, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. The Board voted to close schools on Eid al-Adha in 2016; took final action on the grading and reporting policy; and held a discussion on the district’s vision for 21st century college and career readiness. 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. 

2016–2017 School Year Calendar

The Montgomery County Board of Education voted to close schools for MCPS students on September 12, 2016, which coincides with the holiday of Eid al-Adha. The Board’s vote will make September 12 a professional day for staff in the proposed 2016–2017 school year calendar.

The change in the proposed calendar was approved on a 6–2 vote with Board members Michael Durso, Christopher Barclay, Jill Ortman-Fouse, Rebecca Smondrowski, Judith Docca, and student member of the Board, Eric Guerci, voting in favor. Board members Patricia O’Neill and Philip Kauffman voted against making September 12, 2016, a professional day. The Board has requested that MCPS staff explore the options for making this change by adjusting the proposed calendar of professional days, which includes five preservice professional days, as well as four professional days distributed throughout the year.

The Board deferred passage of the 2016–2017 school year calendar until the December 8, 2015, Board meeting, to give the district’s staff time to explore the options to accommodate the Board’s decision to close schools for students on September 12.

Read the press release

Policy IKA, Grading and Reporting

The Board approved changes 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. On September 8, 2015, the Board tentatively approved changes to Policy IKA and sent the policy out for public comments. The main changes in the policy include adjusting language to replace references to final exams with references to marking period assessments. The updated policy clarifies that student performance measures may include teacher developed, as well as centrally developed, assessments. It also clarifies that the variety of assessments include, but are not limited to, marking period assessments, end-of-unit tests, final evaluations, projects, performance-based assessments, and other similar formative and summative demonstrations of a student’s mastery of grade-level course material.

With the approval of the revised policy, the district will now move forward with its plan to phase out two-hour semester final exams in high school courses next school year (2016–2017) and replace them with centrally developed marking period assessments. Under the plan endorsed by the Board, two-hour final exams will not be given in the second semester of this school year in high school courses for which there is already an external state assessment—Algebra 1, English 10, Government, and Biology. The traditional “half day” final exam schedules will remain in place for this school year and be eliminated in 2016—2017.

The implementation of centrally developed, in-class marking period assessments decreases the amount of time students participate in “standardized” assessments and adds two weeks of instructional time during the course of the school year.

MCPS gathered feedback regarding the replacement of exams with marking period assessments from the community through online surveys, focus groups, and letters. To respond to concerns from teachers and staff about the elimination of the semester exams and the process to implement marking period assessments, the Board directed Interim Superintendent Larry A. Bowers to provide updates to the Board about the process to create the new assessments. In addition, MCPS leaders will involve teachers in the creation and review of the new, centrally developed marking period assessments. 

See the revised policy

Read the memo to the Board on the replacement of exams with marking period assessments

Career Readiness

The Board received a presentation from MCPS staff and held a discussion on the district’s efforts to ensure that all students graduate ready for college and the workplace.  MCPS’ vision for 21st century college and career readiness is to increase the number of options a student may have upon graduation. Success upon high school graduation will be defined as— 

• enrolling in credit-bearing college courses with no need for remediation;

• earning a living wage;

• entering the armed forces;

• completing technical school with experiential learning;

• receiving industry training and certification;

• earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree after graduation; and

• earning college credits or an associate’s degree before graduation.

MCPS is developing a Career Readiness Improvement Plan to ensure that all students are identifying their interests, establishing personal goals, and exploring postsecondary opportunities, including career options. Additionally, the plan is designed to support more students who are exploring Career and Technology Education (CTE) options to achieve completer status, earn certification or licensure qualifying them for immediate job opportunities, and graduate college and career ready.

Read the memo

Approval of Pilot Courses

The Board also approved the development of new pilot courses, which will be offered at select schools as part of the process outlined in Board Policy IFA, Curriculum, and MCPS Regulation IFA-RA, Curriculum. The Board approved the development of two new high school pilot courses. The Board also approved 10 courses that have completed the pilot process; 7 of these courses will be offered at high schools with specialized programs and 3 will be offered in all MCPS high schools. Read the memo to the Board and see the list of courses.

Facilities and School Construction

The Board approved the following items related to school construction projects and facilities:

-Approved preliminary plans for the Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School addition school project.


The Board approved the following resolutions:

-A resolution in honor of veterans

-A resolution proclaiming November 9–13, 2015, as School Psychology Awareness Week

-A resolution declaring November 16–20, 2015, as American Education Week

-A resolution declaring December 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015, as the period for participation in the Montgomery County Public Schools Employees Charity Campaign


Future Meetings

The Board will hold its final Capital Improvements Program (CIP) public hearing on Thursday, November 12. The Board will meet on Monday, November 16, to approve a 2017–2022 CIP request. The Board will hold its next regular business meeting on Tuesday, December 8, 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. Judith 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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