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Board of Education Receives Update on Strategic Technology Plan; Discusses Position on Legislation; and Receives Update on Choice Study
The Montgomery County Board of Education (Board) met on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. During the meeting, the Board received an update on Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) Strategic Technology Plan; discussed its position on legislative issues; and received an update on dual language programs and career readiness. The agenda for the meeting, with links to related materials, can be viewed on the Board of Education website.
Strategic Technology Plan—Creating 21st Century Learning Spaces
The Board received an update and held a discussion on MCPS’ Strategic Technology Plan. The MCPS 2014–2016 Strategic Technology Plan outlined multiyear strategies and actions to transform learning environments through the innovative integration of technology. The plan envisioned MCPS as a school system in which technology-enriched learning communities inspire intellectual curiosity and prepare students with the knowledge and skills to excel in college and chosen careers. The initial phase of work to operationalize the Strategic Technology Plan centered on expanding access to enhanced digital learning infrastructure to staff members and students directly in the classroom from anywhere and at any time. This has provided greater access to the school system’s expanding digital curriculum and is supporting instructional staff in creating 21st century learning spaces in all of the district’s schools.
An important action step in operationalizing the Strategic Technology Plan was the purchase of Chromebooks and the deployment of the cloud-based Google Apps for Education. A strategic budget enhancement was approved in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Operating Budget as well as the Technology Modernization (Tech Mod) Project in the FY 2015–2020 Capital Improvements Program (CIP) to launch the program. Funding was approved in the FY 2017?2022 CIP to complete the rollout in FY 2020.
In the next phase of the plan, the district will be investing in its core operational systems. MCPS will focus on modernizing operational systems, enhancing school-to-home communications, and strengthening supports to schools. In preparation for the 2017?2018 school year, work is under way to expand on the current capabilities available through Edline to parents and guardians. The myMCPS Parent portal and accompanying mobile app will keep parents/guardians informed and engaged with anytime, anywhere access to their students’ academic performance. The myMCPS Parent portal and app also will enable parents and guardians to receive updates via push notifications about grades, scores, attendance, assignments, and fee transactions and balances.
Read the memorandum to the Board
Positions on Education Legislation
The Board discussed legislation that will be considered by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2017 Maryland legislative session. The Board did not take a position on a bill that would remove the 180-day minimum requirement and switch to 1,080 hours.
Read the recommended Board positions (NOTE: Actual Board votes on these legislative bills may differ from staff recommendations.)
Dual Language Programs and World Languages in Elementary Schools
The Board received an update on the work MCPS has been engaged in to address the Study of Choice and Special Academic Programs and discussed the district’s vision for world language instruction at the elementary school level. One of the study recommendations is that to the extent MCPS considers expanding seats, it also should think about using additional models such as the Dual Language Model. This recommendation dovetails with work MCPS has begun by reviewing its sole dual language program. The work at Kemp Mill Elementary School in partnership with the Center for Applied Linguistics is helping to inform the development of a long-term vision for language programing at the elementary school. Currently, the only Two-Way Immersion program in MCPS is hosted at Kemp Mill Elementary School. Two-Way Immersion programs allow students, whether they are heritage speakers of a minority language or native English speakers, to acquire two languages through all the subjects of the curriculum. Research of additive programs, such as Dual Language Two-Way Immersion, which promote biliteracy from an early age, are the only programs that fully close the achievement gap of English Language Learners.
The key to transforming the district’s current world languages programs and to provide all students the necessary tools to become global citizens is to afford greater access to second language acquisition as early as kindergarten. To meet the needs of students in the 21st century, MCPS will take a three-pronged approach, creating a continuum of language experiences from exposure to in depth study. This approach includes world languages instruction at both the elementary and secondary levels, expanding dual language programs, and enhancing current immersion programs.
The Board received an update and held a discussion on the district’s Career Readiness Improvement Plan to ensure more students are well prepared for college and careers. The Board also discussed recommendations from the Study of Choice and Special Academic Programs conducted by Metis Associates to increase opportunities for students to participate in Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs.
MCPS’ Career Readiness Improvement Plan is organized around the three recommendations from the November 2014 publication, Opportunities and Options: Making Career Preparation Work for Students, A Report of the Council of Chief State School Officers Task Force on Improving Career Readiness. The components of the plan are as follows:
1. Enlist the employer community as a lead partner in defining the pathways and skills most essential in today’s economy;
2. Set a higher bar for the quality of career preparation programs, enabling all students to earn a meaningful postsecondary degree or credential; and
3. Make career readiness matter to schools and students by prioritizing it in accountability systems.
As the district continues to implement the plan, an essential part of the effort will be to conduct an external review of CTE programs of study. The review will provide the school system with the necessary insights and guidance to ensure its plan is on the right path and that its programs of study are sufficiently rigorous and truly meet the needs of students. The review is scheduled to commence in winter 2017 and be completed by the spring. To monitor and advise on the implementation of the three-year Career Readiness Improvement Plan, an advisory group was established. This multistakeholder team has more than 30 members collaborating to review the district’s work and make suggestions on how it could be improved. The advisory group will focus on providing input and feedback on the implementation of the three-year Career Readiness Improvement Plan, offer guidance during the CTE external review, and make recommendations on expanding CTE program options for students.
The Board approved the following resolutions:
A resolution declaring the month of February 2017 to be African American History Month
A resolution proclaiming February 6 –10, 2017, as National School Counseling Week in Montgomery County Public Schools
A resolution in appreciation of Dr. George B. Thomas Sr., the founder of Saturday School, who passed away on December 25, 2016
The Board of Education will hold its second public hearing on Superintendent Smith’s operating budget recommendation on January 11. The Board will hold work sessions on the budget on January 17 and 19. The Board will hold its next regular business meeting on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, during which the Board is scheduled to take action on the operating budget. Please check the Board of Education website and 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. Michael Durso, president; Dr. Judith Docca, vice president. Members: Ms. Jeanette E. Dixon, Mrs. Shebra L. Evans, Mrs. Patricia O’Neill, Ms. Jill Ortman-Fouse, Mrs. Rebecca Smondrowski, and Mr. Eric Guerci, student member. Dr. Jack R. Smith, superintendent of schools and secretary-treasurer. Office of the Board: 301-279-3617.
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