Monday, December 31, 2012

Report Fraud, Waste and Abuse in U.S. Government is the U.S. government's official website that provides easy access to data
related to Recovery Act spending and allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse.
Report Fraud, Waste and Abuse

Silver Chips Online: Increase in drug busts at Blair

Number of reported drug-related incidents already double last year's total

IB Program makes the WBJ list

The Washington Business Journal, December 14th - 30th edition, has the list of the largest 501(c)(3) organizations in the area.  Who makes the list? The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), in Bethesda, is ranked as the 50th largest 501(c)(3) in the area, with 2010 revenue of $114.47 million, an increase of 14.78%; and contributed revenue/expenses of $979,635/$120.5 million.  The IBO is based in Bethesda.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

MontCo school suspends 6-year-old for pretend gunshot |

MontCo school suspends 6-year-old for pretend gunshot |

Exclusive: MCPS Retiree Health 2012 Actuarial Valuations

Second in our series of documents from the December 17, 2012, Board of Education Fiscal Management Committee
Board of Education committee meetings are held off camera and only a few of the Board members are in attendance.  Documents discussed at those meetings are not automatically posted on the MCPS website.
The Parents' Coalition has obtained the documents from the December 17, 2012 meeting and will be releasing them to the public by posting them to this blog.

December 17, 2012 MCPS Employee Retirement and Pension Systems - Health

Agenda for Dec. 17, 2012 BOE Fiscal Management Committee

2012 Fiscal Mange Ment Comm

The Board of Education and the Superintendent have not made the majority of the very important financial  documents discussed at this meeting available to the public. In furtherance of transparency and accountability for our public school system, the Parents' Coalition is making these documents public on this blog.  

Exclusive: Background Information on MCPS Pension Funding

The following memorandum from the MCPS Chief Operating Officer was presented to the Board of Education's Fiscal Management Committee on December 17, 2012.   
Board of Education committee meetings are held off camera and only a few of the Board members are in attendance.  Documents discussed at those meetings are not automatically posted on the MCPS website.
The Parents' Coalition has obtained the documents from the December 17, 2012 meeting and will be releasing them to the public by posting them to this blog.

MCPS Background Information on Pension Funding November 30, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Superintendent Starr at Einstein High School Town Hall

My Reflections
by Frederick Stitchnoth
            Parent questions raised four themes, three of them related: Hispanic needs (3 of 18 questions), achievement gaps (2 questions), red zone/green zone discrepancies (2 questions), and math (2 questions).
            Red zone. Hispanics. Dr. Starr's responses were not encouraging. MCPS was unable to make substantial progress in hiring more Hispanic teachers; MCPS could not address Hispanic needs alone; he did not know why programs benefiting Hispanics were cut. Hispanic needs were being addressed by in-school services provided by outside groups, the Chief Engagement and Partnership Office, and a quasi-MCCPTA Parent Leadership Group with a Hispanic co-leader. MCPS is distancing itself from the particular needs of 26.7 percent of its students.
            Achievement gaps. Dr. Starr said that we do not have money to address high school achievement gaps; we will concentrate on middle school; and the commitment to equity is farther along in MCPS than in other jurisdictions. However, the commitment to equity is not evident in the numbers. We look forward to a hard look at MCPS’ commitment by the County Council's Office of Legislative Oversight early in 2014.
            Red/green discrepancies. Dr. Starr said that MCPS had made investments commensurate with red zone needs, though the budget has required these investments to be cut back. Likewise, insufficient money justifies the very substantial discrepancy in the location of Mandarin classes. Dr. Starr has not yet begun to look at the red zone, NEC and DCC, choice structure (intended to preserve ethnic and SES balance and to support academic performance in the red zone). Dr. Starr does not believe that the community is yet ready for a productive discussion of discrepancies. Last in-first out: investments obviously were not commensurate with needs, and then they were cut. MCPS should provide by February 1 an equity budget so that the community can judge and rally around the needed commitment. The forthcoming OLO report must substitute for MCPS' evaluation of the consortia.
            Math. Dr. Starr seems to say that math acceleration and enrichment were to have been provided by teacher-generated on-line lessons (as distinguished from MCPS curriculum-writer lessons); but this had failed. Now acceleration and enrichment lessons would come from crowd-sourcing, including lessons provided by parents. This indicates the falsity of MCPS' reiterated testimony that acceleration and enrichment are available. Parents deserve curriculum written in a cumulative and coherent manner by professional curriculum writers, not developed through teacher (let alone parent) serendipity. 
            Dr. Starr affirmed that there is nothing stopping principals from grouping and regrouping.” Parents had been told for many years by Marty Creel, Director of DEIP, that principals have the discretion to make grouping decisions. Parents report that almost no principals support grouping. Parents therefore do not believe that there is nothing stopping principals. Parents believe that either principals are directed to avoid ability grouping, or that they learn to avoid ability grouping through professional development and MCPS' Equity Unit. Principal reluctance and parent skepticism will be very hard for Dr. Starr to overcome.
            MoCo brand housing values. Dr. Starr said that people believe neighborhood schools determine their housing values, and that education is central to the Montgomery County brand. The housing value perspective is more meaningful around Dr. Starr's home school “ Burning Tree “ than in the DCC where he made this comment. While even people in the DCC buy in to the MoCo brand, the brand is based on the schools in the green zone, not the DCC. Dr. Starr's responses regarding Hispanics, achievement gaps and discrepancies do not suggest that making the brand real for all students is yet translated from a core value to strategy. There is solace in the core value: Whatever it takes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

MCPS School system needs leadership

Starr needs to step up on security, budget, curriculum

As the end of the year approaches, one thing is becoming clear about Montgomery County education: It needs leadership...
Gazette Opinion continues at this link.

Court maintains stay on Brickyard development

Gazette:  Dec. 7 ruling a new setback for Montgomery County

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Vacation!

Happy Holidays and all the best at the New Year to all our friends and readers of the Parents' Coalition.  Enjoy the winter vacation.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

MCBRE web site infected with virus

Both the Google virus checker and the AVG virus checker are reporting that the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education (MCBRE) web site is infected with a Russian computer virus known as Exploit Blackhole Exploit Kit Type 2364.

The MCBRE is a private corporation that is led by, among others, Superintendent Starr.

The Parents' Coalition suggests that the site not be accessed until MCBRE certifies that the site is free of malware.  Please note that the image below indicates only that the threat was removed from the computer of the specific user who was unfortunate enough to access the site. The virus is still on the web site and will be distributed to computers that attempt to access the site.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fordham Inst Blogger Asks Questions about MCPS

Inquiring Minds Want to Know!

The following blog article by Chester E. Finn, Jr., December 20, 2012, suggests that Montgomery County
"needs a versatile, smart, and courageous education-advocacy organization to make sure that the interests of school-system employees and their friends don’t trump those of children (and taxpayers). Today it doesn’t have one—nor, to my knowledge, does it have anyone to point out the things that aren’t working, the kids who are badly served, the schools that are poorly led, the choices that don’t really exist, and all the other things that the system is not keen to make known."

Wow. He also raises a few questions that need answering:

But in those situations, it’s vital to impose transparency via external audits and comparisons that such districts aren’t apt to do for themselves. How do 8th graders in Montgomery County compare—not just with each other or with Baltimore, but with Korea and Finland? Which schools are working well, and which really aren’t? Which truly “add value” to their pupils, and which just take smart, well-parented, upper-middle-class kids and keep them that way? How much per pupil does this system spend on special education versus the national average, and how many special-needs kids graduate from high school? How many of the kids taking AP courses then pass the AP exams? How many minority students are enrolled in the district’s International Baccalaureate program, and what is their rate of success? How many graduates of the county’s high schools must still take remedial courses in college? How many “eligible” students cannot get into “gifted and talented” classrooms due to the paucity of such programs? How many are turned away from the county’s acclaimed Montgomery Blair magnet high school program (which takes just 100 kids per year)? And much more.

Read the whole blog article by clicking HERE.

Strand 4: The MCPS Schools in Strand 4 of MD's New Accountability Index

Captain James E. Daly Elementary 0.91
Forest Oak Middle 0.92
Burnt Mills Elementary 0.95
William Tyler Page Elementary 0.93
Briggs Chaney Middle 0.98
Rosemont Elementary 0.97
Redland Middle 0.95
Silver Spring International Middle 0.92
Oak View Elementary 0.96
Rolling Terrace Elementary 0.96
Rock Creek Forest Elementary 0.96
White Oak Middle 0.93
Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle 0.95
Strathmore Elementary 0.91

If schools fall into Strand 4, the schools have a School Progress Index score greater than or equal to 0.9 and have not met any of their targets for Achievement, Gap, and Growth (elementary/middle schools) or Achievement, Gap, and College- and Career-Readiness indicators (high schools) per grade span. Strand 4 schools are those that are generally not meeting targets. These schools fall close to the bottom of progress for schools in the State. They are not identified as falling into the last strand but they are near that point. Rarely will these schools have focused problems with one specific subgroup. Most often, a systemic change will be necessary to address all instruction as well as those ancillary supports, like classroom management training, that can prevent other problems from interfering with instruction. Support for the improvement of instruction, the retraining of the leadership staff, and intensified outreach to families to become involved with their child’s school should be addressed by all schools in this strand and with LEA oversight. LEAs should look carefully at the existing supports in the schools to determine effectiveness of the current path to improvement. Schools with serious needs require the attention and support of the whole community and Strand 4 schools will consider intentional activities to create community involvement.
For monitoring, LEAs must include in their Master Plan Update the process that is used to assure that each Strand 4 school has the most effective school improvement plan possible. Additionally, specific guiding questions will ask for a description of any differentiation of supports to these schools with very low scores on the School Progress Index. Any Title I Focus school that falls into Strand 4 will be eligible to apply for 1003(a) School Improvement funds to support the path for improvement stated in their school improvement plans.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Circuit Court Smacks Planning Board for "willy-nilly" vote. Farquhar MS land swap swatted.

On November 15, 2012, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert Greenberg reversed and remanded the February 9, 2012 and May 31, 2012 votes of the Montgomery County Planning Board with regard to the dedication of the 17.4 acre property next to Farquhar Middle School.

  • The 17.4 acre property was to be dedicated as Rural Open Space land in perpetuity as part of the development of homes.
  • The Board of Education decided they wanted the 17.4 acre property for a new Farquhar Middle School.
  • The Planning Board tried to dedicate the land "willy-nilly". (See page 13 of Circuit Court Opinion)
  • The Circuit Court has now said no to the Planning Board's "willy-nilly" vote and told them to go back and fix their vote to comply with the dedication of Rural Open Space land in perpetuity.  
  • The Circuit Court's decision swats down the BOE's plan to take over this Rural Open Space land for use as a public school.  


Post's Jay Mathews writes about Joe Hawkins

Expert suggests putting all black students in IB

I don’t know anyone who cares more or knows more about Montgomery County public schools then Joseph Hawkins, a senior study director at the Westat research company.
He tried in 2000 to start a charter school in the county to challenge low-income minority kids. The Board of Education said no, concerned, among other things, that the charter’s plan to have all students in the International Baccalaureate diploma program was too strenuous.
Hawkins still wants more rigorous classes for the students least likely to be in them. In a recent post on the Rockville Patch blog, he suggested the following: At the eight county schools that offer IB classes, black students must go for the full IB diploma, which requires six three-to-five-hour exams and a 4,000-word research paper. His reasons are interesting.
As an adult, Hawkins wrote, he became friends with his middle school basketball coach, Skip Grant. They ran together. Hawkins asked Grant how to get faster.
“I thought he would give me some really complex training program,” Hawkins wrote, “but instead his advice was two words: ‘Train fast.’ In short, you can’t really improve your real race times unless you practice running faster.”
Hawkins is an expert on school statistics. He said he often thought of Grant’s advice when people asked him how schools can close achievement gaps “between their black and white students, their Latino and white students and their poor and rich students.”
“Now I know it sounds simple,” he wrote, “but to close gaps, schools must make the students who are behind (e.g., black students) run faster. And if they do not, then gaps remain.” He said he italicized the word “make” because “it does come down to a requirement. There is no negotiating excellence and better outcomes.”
In his e-mail exchanges with me, Hawkins usually has numbers to illustrate his point. In the Rockville Patch piece, he wrote that in 2011, there were 796 black seniors at the county’s eight IB high schools: Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Einstein, Kennedy, Richard Montgomery, Rockville, Seneca Valley, Springbrook and Watkins Mill. Only 40 black seniors at those schools were candidates for the IB diploma, which is 5 percent.
“That is not even close to good enough,” he wrote.... Jay Mathews article continues at this link.

Strand 3: The MCPS Schools in Strand 3 of MD's New Accountability Index

Laytonsville Elementary 0.98

Germantown Elementary 0.98
Ridgeview Middle 0.98
Fox Chapel Elementary 0.91
Waters Landing Elementary 0.97
S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary 0.99
Rosa M. Parks Middle 0.97
Twinbrook Elementary 0.99
Maryvale Elementary 1.09
Julius West Middle 0.97
Ritchie Park Elementary 0.99
Tilden Middle School 0.99
Roscoe R Nix Elementary 0.9
Francis Scott Key Middle 1.08
Galway Elementary 0.99
Paint Branch High 0.92
Greencastle Elementary 1.04
Great Seneca Creek Elementary 1.01
Westland Middle 1.02
North Chevy Chase Elementary 0.99
Burning Tree Elementary 0.94
Thomas W. Pyle Middle School 1.07
Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary 0.96
Flower Valley Elementary 0.97
Shady Grove Middle 1
Lakelands Park Middle 0.99
Watkins Mill High 0.96
Washington Grove Elementary 1.03
Gaithersburg Elementary 0.99
Brown Station Elementary 0.96
Sequoyah Elementary 0.96
Fields Road Elementary 0.93
Stedwick Elementary 0.98
Strawberry Knoll Elementary 0.95
Damascus Elementary 0.98
John T. Baker Middle School 0.94
Rocky Hill Middle 0.97
Piney Branch Elementary 0.98
Takoma Park Middle School 0.96
Woodlin Elementary 0.95
Glen Haven Elementary 1.03
Oakland Terrace Elementary 1.01
Sligo Middle 1.03
Sargent Shriver Elementary 0.94
Albert Einstein High 0.93
Newport Mill Middle 0.99
Rock View Elementary 1.09
Harmony Hills Elementary 0.97
Cresthaven Elementary 0.92
Earle B. Wood Middle 0.97

If schools fall into Strand 3, the schools have a School Progress Index score greater than or equal to 0.9 and have met at least one of their three targets for Achievement, Gap, and Growth (elementary/middle schools) or Achievement, Gap, and College- and Career-Readiness indicators (high schools) per grade span. Strand 3 schools will show an increase in the intensity of needs identified by the School Improvement Process. Schools in Strand 3 may have multiple subgroups struggling to achieve standards or may have intensive, pervasive problems for one very low-performing subgroup. More often than for schools in Strand 2, LEAs and schools may determine the need for a systemic solution rather than, or in addition to, continued support to individual subgroups. Title I schools that fall into this Strand will be eligible to apply for 1003(a) School Improvement Grant funds to support the direction toward improvement detailed in the SIP.
LEAs are directed to oversee the School Improvement Process for Strand 3 schools. Many configurations may be used for the delivery of professional development or training but LEAs must be closely in touch with these schools and regularly checking on progress. Additionally, LEAs will have a section of the Master Plan to address Strand 3 activities separately. Commonalities of the school concerns should be addressed and detailed plans for improvement should be included. Successes and challenges will be addressed through monitoring questions developed by the BTE External Advisory Panel.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Strand 2: The MCPS Schools in Strand 2 of MD's New Accountability Index

Clopper Mill Elementary 1.03
Clarksburg Elementary 1.01
Seneca Valley High 0.99
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle 0.98
Quince Orchard High 1
Poolesville Elementary 1
Roberto W. Clemente Middle 1.01
Rachel Carson Elementary 1.05
Garrett Park Elementary 0.99
Lakewood Elementary 1.16
Meadow Hall Elementary 1.03
Travilah Elementary 1.12
Farmland Elementary 1.16
Luxmanor Elementary 1.04
Wayside Elementary 1.17
Robert Frost Middle School 1.11
DuFief Elementary 0.94
Dr. Sally K. Ride Elementary 0.99
Thurgood Marshall Elementary 1.03
Northwest High 1.03
John H. Poole Middle 1.02
Clarksburg High 0.98
Burtonsville Elementary 1.11
Fairland Elementary 1.1
Broad Acres Elementary 1
Cannon Road Elementary 1.06
Stonegate Elementary 0.97
James Hubert Blake High 1.02
Benjamin Banneker Middle 1.03
Bethesda Elementary 0.98
Westbrook Elementary 1.04
Bradley Hills Elementary 1.1
North Bethesda Middle 1.1
Ashburton Elementary 0.98
Walt Whitman High 1.06
Sherwood Elementary 1.02
Olney Elementary 1.08
William H. Farquhar Middle 1.03
Cashell Elementary 1.13
Greenwood Elementary 1.05
Judith A. Resnik Elementary 1.13
Sligo Creek Elementary 1
Brooke Grove Elementary 0.99
Spark M. Matsunaga Elementary School 1.02
Goshen Elementary 1.02
Flower Hill Elementary 1.04
Gaithersburg Middle 1.02
Whetstone Elementary 1.06
Watkins Mill Elementary 1.02
South Lake Elementary 1.05
Diamond Elementary 1.08
Winston Churchill High 1.06
Bells Mill Elementary 1.06
Monocacy Elementary 1.03
Damascus High 1.04
Cedar Grove Elementary 1.09
Woodfield Elementary 1.14
Clearspring Elementary 1.06
Kingsview Middle 0.98
Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary 0.98
Takoma Park Elementary 1.01
Montgomery Blair High 1.01
Pine Crest Elementary 1
Viers Mill Elementary 1.01
Highland Elementary 1.13
Eastern Middle School 1.01
Weller Road Elementary 0.99
Bel Pre Elementary 1.02
Kensington Parkwood Elementary 1.06
Wheaton Woods Elementary 1.07
Arcola Elementary 1.04
New Hampshire Estates Elem 1.02
Northwood High School 0.98
Springbrook High 0.97
Forest Knolls Elementary 1.03
Kemp Mill Elementary 1.03
Brookhaven Elementary 1.02
Parkland Middle 0.99
Glenallan Elementary 1.03
Rock Terrace School 1.02

If schools fall into Strand 2, the schools have a School Progress Index score greater than or equal to 0.9 and will have met at least two of their three targets for Achievement, Gap, and Growth (elementary/middle schools) or Achievement, Gap, and College- and Career-Readiness indicators (high schools) per grade span. The successes and challenges of schools in Strand 2 will be varied. Schools may excel at Mathematics but lag in reading or vice-versa. In this case, the balance of Achievement, Growth, Gap Reduction and College- and Career-Readiness Goals can yield relatively high-performing schools with targeted needs that, when addressed, could lead them to enter Strand 1.
More than one area of need may drive the school to focus on one and then another intervention sequentially or consider a quasi-systemic plan that would embrace all of the needs at once. The SIP process will again ensure that each subgroup is addressed and identified needs drive professional development for teachers and appropriate interventions for the students. MSDE will dictate no specific support for schools in Strand 2. However, it is expected that LEAs will take particular interest in the needs in these schools. Although an individual school’s assessment of data is recommended for sustained improvement, it will additionally serve as an excellent source for the LEA to determine system-wide professional development.
LEA monitoring for Strand 2 schools will be identical to the random inspection of SIPs as described for Strand 1, with a larger sample of four to five percent. MSDE will also require the LEA with Strand 2 schools to describe in the annual Master Plan Update the overall process for addressing the production of useful, focused SIPs; the commonalities discovered through this analyses and syntheses of data; and the system-wide professional development plan that emerges from that work. There will be specific language in the Master Plan guidance developed by the Bridge to Excellence (BTE) External Advisory Panel.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Strand 5: The MCPS Schools in Strand 5 of MD's New Accountability Index

Neelsville Middle 0.86
Carl Sandburg Center 0.87
Alternative Programs 0.75
Gateway to College Program 0.9
Montgomery Village Middle School 0.87
Georgian Forest Elementary 0.84
A. Mario Loiederman Middle 0.88
Argyle Middle 0.87

If schools fall into Strand 5, the schools have a School Progress Index score lower than 0.9 but may have met as many as two of their targets for Achievement, Gap, and Growth (elementary/middle schools) or Achievement, Gap, and College- and Career-Readiness indicators (high schools) per grade span. The lowest-progressing schools in the State will fall into Strand 5. Schools falling into this strand will generally display school-wide issues that require additional, differentiated services from the LEA. These schools are also going to present the most need from student services. Required supports for Strand 5 schools that are not Title I include using the School Improvement Grant (SIG) process. The SIG process provides clear needs assessments and support through the LEA Turnaround offices. Those Title I schools in this Strand may have access to additional school improvement dollars with well defined plans for improvement. All schools, Title I or non-Title I, will receive differentiated support from the LEA.
Monitoring of these schools will be covered by the LEA and MSDE if they are Priority or Focus. The other schools will be required to provide assurances within the Master Plan to the State Superintendent of Schools that all required interventions, reporting, and monitoring are being supplied by the LEA.

Strand 1: The MCPS Schools in Strand 1 of MD's New Accountability Index

Longview School 1.92
Rosemary Hills Elementary 1.28
Stephen Knolls School 1.21
Seven Locks Elementary 1.2
Cold Spring Elementary 1.19
Stone Mill Elementary 1.19
Carderock Springs Elementary 1.18
Poolesville High 1.17
Rock Creek Valley Elementary 1.17
Candlewood Elementary 1.14
Mill Creek Towne Elementary 1.14
Thomas S. Wootton High 1.13
Herbert Hoover Middle 1.12
College Gardens Elementary 1.12
Bannockburn Elementary 1.12
Wyngate Elementary 1.12
Beverly Farms Elementary 1.11
Chevy Chase Elementary 1.11
Richard Montgomery High 1.1
Jackson Road Elementary 1.09
Wood Acres Elementary 1.09
Little Bennett Elementary 1.08
William B. Gibbs, Jr. 1.08
Sherwood High 1.08
Westover Elementary 1.08
Belmont Elementary 1.08
Ronald A. McNair Elementary 1.07
Fallsmead Elementary 1.07
Darnestown Elementary 1.07
Somerset Elementary 1.07
Walter Johnson High 1.07
Montgomery Knolls Elementary 1.07
Lois P. Rockwell Elementary 1.06
Bethesda-Chevy Chase High 1.06
John F. Kennedy High 1.06
Lake Seneca Elementary 1.05
Beall Elementary 1.05
Rockville High 1.05
Jones Lane Elementary 1.05
Potomac Elementary 1.05
Cabin John Middle School 1.05
Summit Hall Elementary 1.04
Highland View Elementary 1.04
Col. Zadok Magruder High 1.03
Wheaton High 1.03
Gaithersburg High 1.02
Cloverly Elementary 1
East Silver Spring Elementary 1

If schools fall into Strand 1, the schools have a School Progress Index score of 1.0 or better and will have met their targets for Achievement, Gap, and Growth (elementary/middle schools) or Achievement, Gap, and College- and Career-Readiness indicators (high schools) per grade span. These schools are usually meeting and exceeding the academic standards for all students. Schools that score in this Strand may have met the minimum standards set by the State for closing the achievement gaps but will, through development of the School Improvement Plan (SIP), want to set even higher standards. Additionally, schools will examine the data they have that indicate any need whether academic, physical, emotional, or cultural and develop intervention plans.

Since data for the School Progress Index will be published annually, focused and intense interventions for students not showing growth will need to be provided to maintain the status of a Strand 1 school. Although the Maryland School Assessments (MSAs) are meant to assess the most important academic content in all Maryland classrooms, teachers and leaders understand that they are responsible for the whole child. That means that at times tools to keep students organized and persevering in their work will need to be partnered with the ongoing support for the content of English/Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science.
Support to these schools beyond the SIP may take different forms. The school should be able to identify the professional development and training that can lead to additional improvement in achievement. The LEA may provide this resource or schools may leverage other sources of funding to seek training beyond the current staff within the LEA.
Monitoring for these schools is left to the LEA and its theory of action. Each year the LEA will review the SIPs of a random sample of one to three percent of the schools in Strand 1. The LEA Superintendent will report on the examination of these plans through the Master Plan process (reviewed by MSDE) assuring that any omissions or inadequacies will be addressed in these and all other SIPs. This will allow MSDE to have insight into the School Improvement Plan process from the school’s perspective and the school will receive feedback that will assist with the continued improvement of the school’s ability to diagnose and prescribe interventions.

Maryland's New Accountability Index: Strands

Strand classifications are assigned to school level data only. County and the State SPI results are not assigned a strand classification.
The School Progress Index (SPI) and the school’s result on each of the Indicators of the Index will give the school a very clear picture of their progress to meeting targets. Once the School Progress Index is calculated (with values of 0 to 1 or greater), the scores will be broken into five strands for identifying interventions, support, and recognition to schools. Schools in Strand 1 will be schools meeting all targets and schools not meeting any of their targets will likely be in Strand 5. Although schools will, as always, have very unique profiles, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) will group the schools based on a measure of the magnitude of the issues these schools face when meeting their targets. This Strand categorization allows MSDE and the Local Education Agency (LEA) to differentiate resources to schools by magnitude of need while precise diagnosis occurs at the school.

MCPS: Not #1 in Maryland

The Howard and Frederick county school systems scored slightly higher than Montgomery County under a new Maryland accountability system that will track an individual school’s progress against its own prior here for Washington Post article.
Maryland State Department of Education Press Release on new Accountability Index

New Maryland Accountability Index

All Frederick Schools 1.06
All Carroll Schools 1.05
All Calvert Schools 1.04
All Howard Schools 1.04
All Queen Anne's Schools 1.04
All Worcester Schools 1.04
All Caroline Schools 1.02
All Garrett Schools 1.01
All Montgomery Schools 1.01
All Saint Mary's Schools 1.01
All Harford Schools 1
All Talbot Schools 1
All Cecil Schools 0.99
All Washington Schools 0.99
All Allegany Schools 0.98
All Anne Arundel Schools 0.98
All Baltimore County Schools 0.98
All Charles Schools 0.98
All Somerset Schools 0.97
All Baltimore City Schools 0.97
All Prince George's Schools 0.95
All Wicomico Schools 0.95
All Kent Schools 0.94
All Dorchester Schools 0.88

Monday, December 17, 2012

Press Release from Montgomery County Police Department

Police Presence at Elementary Schools

Published on December 17, 2012 by  in Press Releases
The Montgomery County Police Department wishes to express its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and to the residents of Newtown, Connecticut.  The Montgomery County Police Department has no indication of a threat to any of the schools in the county.  Police Chief Manger and School Superintendent Starr continue to communicate and coordinate efforts.  To provide a presence and reassurance to the community, officers were at county elementary schools during the time of dismissal on Friday and officers will be at these schools during times of arrival and dismissal today.  Plans for officers’ presence at these schools for the remainder of the week will be discussed among school and police officials.  As a reminder, anyone who observes any suspicious situation or behavior should call police.

Superintendent Starr's $2,217,247,656

Superintendent Joshua Starr's Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal asks for $48,950,123 over what MCPS received in Fiscal Year 2013.

The Washington Post Editorial:  Montgomery school spending fight
...Montgomery’s school system, the largest in the state, remains excellent. The question is not whether teachers deserve good salaries; they do. But it would be irresponsible for the county to once again fall into the habit of showering more funds onto the schools than it can afford.

Businesses ID Shoppers to Deny Service to Blair Students

Silver Chips:  Local stores will not sell to students during school hours
...Santucci's Deli, Papa John's, Woodmoor Pastry Shop and Bakery, Jerry's, McDonald's, Subway, Chipotle, Greek Deli, 7-11 and Starbucks. 
Businesses that support the policy have agreed not to serve any students during the school day unless they have a school ID with an abbreviated schedule sticker on the back. Some have put up the "We Support School Safety" flyer at the front of the store, while others, such as Starbucks, will show customers the flyer at the register. Businesses have also received a school calendar in order to be aware of half-days or days when there is no school, and some merchants have volunteered to take photos of students who are violating the closed-campus policy...

Students Nervously Return To School After Shooting

...Northern Virginia's Fairfax County Public Schools, the largest school system in the Washington area with about 181,000 students, will provide additional police patrols and counselors.
"This is not in response to any specific threat but rather a police initiative to enhance safety and security around the schools and to help alleviate the understandably high levels of anxiety," Superintendent Jack Dale said Sunday...

Diane Ravitch blogs Joshua Starr

Here's what Diane Ravitch blogged:

Joshua Starr is the superintendent of Montgomery County’s public school system, the 17th largest district in the nation. He says that the “country needs a three-year moratorium on standardized testing and needs to ‘stop the insanity’ of evaluating teachers according to student test scores because it is based on ‘bad science.’He also said that the best education reform the country has had is actually health-care reform.”
He said that evaluating teachers by test scores is a very bad idea.
Starr said that “a good way to create assessments for Common Core-aligned curriculum would be to crowd-source the development and let teachers design them rather than have corporations do it. He criticized policies that help make public education ‘a private commodity.’”...

Here is my response which was posted in the comments on Ms. Ravitch's blog:

Starr said that “a good way to create assessments for Common Core-aligned curriculum would be to crowd-source the development and let teachers design them rather than have corporations do it. He criticized policies that help make public education ‘a private commodity.’”
Ms. Ravitch: Seriously? You are well aware that Mr. Starr’s school system SOLD their curriculum to PEARSON. The MCPS curriculum is now under contract with PEARSON and PEARSON is writing all of the assessments and teacher training that will be used in MCPS. curriculum is being sold by Pearson as PEARSON FORWARD., the contract that MCPS signed with PEARSON was severely criticized by the Maryland State Board of Education. Starr has not mentioned that contract once since he became Superintendent. Not a word. And, now you are quoting him as criticizing “policies that help make public education a private commodity” without referencing the PEARSON contract with his school district. stop the cover up Ms. Ravitch. Let’s have some facts to go with the spin. MCPS parents are protesting the Pearson Curriculum and Mr. Joshua Starr is silent on the existence of this contractual relationship in his own school system. is one of the biggest problems with public education in America. Superintendents who are become convention circuit speakers while ignoring what is going on in their own school districts.
It’s time to put an end to the public school funded convention circuit. Public school dollars need to stay in the classroom, and not be spent on hotels, airfare, restaurants and pricey convention registrations. ~ Janis Sartucci

Saturday, December 15, 2012

School board slapped with restraining order for violating Open Meetings Act

In some states the Open Meetings Act is a valued law.
..."Unfortunately, the school board should be setting an example to our children about how the political system should be done the right way. We were certainly used as pawns to try to get one more tower in for the sake of their political career. I'm hoping this will come out and damage their political career. I don't see how any one with the right mind and the sense could conceivable think that 15 cents per student per day is worth all the potential health risks and worth the potential loss in the equity in your home," he said, citing the revenue the tower is expected to bring the school. 
The Marietta Daily Journal filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief for Monday's hearing to support the parents' contention that the board's vote violated Georgia's Open Meetings Act. 
MDJ attorney Robert Fortson of the Marietta firm Turner, Bachman and Garrett said from the Journal's perspective the case was not about a cell phone tower, but about open and honest government, and ensuring that local officials comply with the law. 
"In this instance, the Cobb County Board of Education clearly and apologetically violated the Open Meetings Act. By failing to post this cell tower issue as an agenda item (on its Web site) in advance of the July meeting, the school board effectively silenced any voice of opposition. This is exactly the kind of closed door politics that the act is designed to prevent. Judge Stoddard clearly understood this, which is why he ruled in favor of the plaintiffs," Fortson said. 
In granting the temporary restraining order Monday, Senior Cobb Superior Court Judge Michael Stoddard agreed with the parents and MDJ that the public, "did not have proper notice of the cell tower proposal prior to the July 23, 2009, hearing."...

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - School board slapped with restraining order