So far this winter, the school system has closed nine days due to inclement weather. We have made up five of those days, but have four remaining make-up days to meet the state's 180-day school year requirement.
Today, I sent a request to the State Superintendent of Schools requesting a four-day waiver to the state's requirement. Pending a waiver decision, we are opening schools four days during spring break, April 14, 15, 16 and 17. If the state grants the waiver, spring break will remain intact.
Additionally, I am changing four two-hour early dismissal days to full days of instruction in order to make up for lost time. Two-hour early dismissal days converted to full days are March 19, April 25, May 7 and May 21. Remaining two-hour early dismissal days are April 1 and the last four days of school, June 13, 16, 17 and 18. April 1 will remain as a two-hour early dismissal day in order to provide time for report card preparation. The waiver will not affect this change.
We will keep you informed as we learn more about our waiver request.
Kimberly A. Hill, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
The Committee has met, research has been done, gone on field trips, done homework and we are now ready to present to the board tomorrow night. The committee is recommending a Pilot Program to begin at select schools by the end of this school year.
Is Charles County Public Schools ready to allow students to bring their own devices to school and use them in school?
Drum Roll Please....
We will have to wait and see if the board passes it, but if it does....it could go into affect as early as the next school year system-wide.
See the Committee Presentation HERE.
See the Proposed
March 4, 2014
By Amy Golod
As the new standards roll out across the country, myths and misconceptions abound.
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have already adopted the Common Core State Standards, which were released in 2010 by the bipartisan National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. But as the K-12 educational standards are rolled out across the country, misconceptions abound.
“The Common Core State Standards began with the idea that math in Massachusetts is not any different from math in Maryland, and now politics are involved,” says Chris Minnich, executive director of the CCSSO.
Supporters of the new standards tout the fact that teachers from any part of the country can share ideas, and hope that if students move across state lines, they will have a smooth academic transition. Despite the potential for greater national unity among public school districts and bipartisan support at the outset, since the Federal government has voiced support for the standards, there is opposition, Minnich points out.
[READ: The History of Common Core]
Here are some of the most prevalent myths – and the facts – about Common Core.
Myth: The Common Core State Standards are a federally mandated curriculum.
The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act forbids the Federal government from intervening in school curriculum development. States independently adopted the Common Core, a set of math and English Language Arts standards for K-12 students to reach by the end of each grade level. School districts design the curricula, and teachers create their own methods for instruction, selecting the resources best tailored to their lessons.
Confusion about what part the federal government plays in Common Core may stem from President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, which awarded more than $4 billion in federal grants to 19 states that demonstrated a commitment to education reform and innovation. Race to the Top applicants who agreed to adopt the Common Core standards had a small number of points (40 out of 500) added to their score, since the Core standards align with Race to the Top’s goals. While some right-leaning groups reject the standards, calling them an example of government overreach, other traditionally conservative groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support them.
“There were several myths that kept rising to the top,” says Cheryl Oldham, vice president of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and vice president of education and workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. But the Common Core is not a federal takeover of education, she points out. “If that was the case the Chamber wouldn’t support it,” she says.
Myth: The Common Core State Standards mandate more student testing.
There will be new Common Core-aligned exams to measure student progress. According to the Common Core website, these exams measuring student progress will merely replace current year-end standardized tests.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers are still developing the new tests, so they will not be administered until 2015.
Teachers feel pressure to uphold both the old and new standards since the 2014 assessments are not aligned with Common Core, explains Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association. In certain places, teacher evaluations are based partly on student test scores. Until the transition to the Common Core is complete, some states are adjusting how they link teacher evaluation to student performance.
In Florida, for example, public school students in Broward County will continue to take Florida’s Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT. Since Florida is part of Race to the Top, it is required to use student test results when assessing teachers. In the past, 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation reflected the school-wide average of reading and math scores. This year, evaluations will be tied only to the scores of the students a teacher instructs, says Marie DeSantis, executive director of instruction and interventions at Broward County Public Schools.
Myth: The Common Core State Standards de-emphasize literature.
Unless college students major in literature, they will spend most of their time reading complex, non-fiction informational texts. One of the over-arching goals of the Common Core is to improve students’ critical and analytical reading skills. The Common Core mandates that by Grade 12, 70 percent of reading assignments across all subjects use informational texts and 30 percent use literary ones. So while the change may be most noticeable in English Language Arts courses, it applies to subjects like history and science as well.
American literature is still an integral part of high school curricula. In Grades 11 and 12, for instance, Common Core standards require that students “demonstrate knowledge of 18th, 19th, and early 20th Century foundational works of American literature.” They must read stories, poems and dramas, including at least one play by Shakespeare.
Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University and a member of a Common Core K-12 Standards Development Team, believes that it is vital students read classic literary and historical texts so they become culturally literate. He says the Common Core should include a required reading list, so teachers can provide a uniform literary and historical foundation to students.
“If you care about the English literary tradition, and if you think that these books… form an inherent tradition that is an essential part of being an American, of our patrimony, our history, our values, you will put it on the syllabus,” he says. Other teachers question the necessity of teaching “old, classic” texts and prefer to assign more contemporary reading because they believe students better relate to it, he says.
Myth: The Common Core State Standards are “one-size-fits-all.”
Some have complained that the Common Core standards will lower the achievement rates in high-performing schools, bringing education down to a “common denominator” countrywide. But as the introduction to the English Language Arts standards points out, teachers still have the flexibility and responsibility to customize instruction depending on their students’ abilities. “The Standards set grade-specific standards but do not define the intervention methods or materials necessary to support students who are well below or well above grade-level expectations,” the introduction reads. “No set of grade-specific standards can fully reflect the great variety in abilities, needs, learning rates, and achievement levels of students in any given classroom.”
A misconception which arose early in the development of the standards was that “Common Core would mean a uniform and standard set of instruction that would negate the need for gifted and talent programs, which is obviously not true,” says Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, a national coalition of urban public school systems. While some people worry that Common Core sets the bar too low, others are concerned that lower-performing students may struggle to keep up. “Some parents and teachers find the Common Core too challenging. It’s a fair point. How challenging do we want our schools to be?” asks David Conley, professor at the University of Oregon, founder and CEO of the Educational Policy Improvement Center, and co-chair of the Common Core State Standards Initiative Validation Committee.
The aim of the Common Core is to encourage students to rise to the academic occasion.
“The Common Core is about raising the bottom half,” says Common Core Development Team member Bauerlein. “One problem is the broader issue of trying to equalize school situations. We need to do so, but we will never equalize home situations.”
Myth: The Common Core State Standards are not researched-based.
Perhaps due to either the perceived weakness or rigor of Common Core, critics have faulted the process of writing and finalizing the standards, arguing that there was not enough trial before implementation.
“The standards represent an amalgamation and integration of a dozen years of research and practice,” confirms Conley. The English standards were based on the NAEP frameworks in reading and writing, “which draw on extensive scholarly research and evidence,” representatives state on the Common Core website. Mathematics standards “draw on conclusions from TIMSS and other studies of high‐performing countries that the traditional US mathematics curriculum must become substantially more coherent and focused in order to improve student achievement.”
“It is a misconception that [the standards] were experimental or should go through a field testing or validation before they were used,” Conley says. “The idea that they shouldn’t be used with students should not be believed.”
Friday, March 07, 2014
The Board of Education’s next monthly meeting is Tuesday, March 11, at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 1 p.m. and student and staff recognition starts at 4:30 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12 and is rebroadcast throughout the week. Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system website at www.ccboe.com. Select CCPS TV and then choose the Live Broadcast tab. The following is a tentative meeting agenda and is subject to change.
Executive session – 12 p.m.
Call to order – 1 p.m. - Pledge of Allegiance, Thomas Stone High School JROTC
Reports of officers/boards/committees
- Correspondence/Board Member updates
- Education Association of Charles County update
- Student Board Member update
- CIP update
- Fine and performing arts opportunities for students
- Ninth-grade Earth science textbook
- Middle school health textbooks
- High school government textbook
- Technology upgrades
- 2015-16 school calendar
- Board policy on student discipline
- Legislative update
New business and future agenda items
- New business
- Future agenda items
- Resolutions: Month of the Young Child and National Student Leadership Week
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Cites technology as key area of interest, growthGretchen Phillips, Staff Writer
Southern Maryland News
March 5, 2014
After 10 years on the school board, Jennifer S. Abell said she is ready, willing and able to serve more.
Abell filed last week for re-election to the Charles County Board of Education. Seven seats are available, and there are 20 candidates in the race.
Abell, 45, of La Plata said she wants to “continue the work we’ve already started on the board of education.”
She and Michael “Mike” Lukas are the only two incumbents to file for re-election.
She cited her involvement on the Adequate Public Facilities committee, which is working to balance development with school capacity; and a board subcommittee working to let students bring and use their personal electronic devices, such as tablets, to school. She said she would like to be on the board when telepresence in all high schools is used for students dual enrolled at the College of Southern Maryland. These are all things that she has been a part of while on the school board, and she would like to see them through.
“When I first started in 2004, we didn’t even have televised meetings,” she said.
Abell said she considers herself on the forefront when it comes to technology, and she would like to continue advocating students to use their tablets and to get schools to embrace e-books.
Abell said she will rely on technology and word of mouth only for her campaign.
“I will not be accepting any campaign contributions or donations, and I will not be spending any money on campaign advertising. I will do it all via social media and word of mouth.”
During the 2010 election, Abell took the same approach and won the second highest vote total in the school board race next to current board Chairwoman Roberta S. Wise.
As for the APF committee and the several months worth of work it has done to find balance with school capacity and development, “I want to see it actually balance,” Abell said.
Abell is the March of Dimes division director for Suburban Maryland. She also sits on the Fetal Infant Mortality Review Board for five counties including Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s.
She volunteers on many boards and committees in the community including the Partnership for a Healthier Charles County. If re-elected she said she is “ready to take on responsibility, willing to set high standards for education and able to meet the challenges necessary for the future of our children.”
Abell is a graduate of Thomas Stone High School and has had four children go through county public schools. She currently has a child at Maurice J. McDonough High School.
She said she has a “proven track record of thinking independently and not along with the mainstream.”
March 5, 2014
Exam for high-schoolers gets a makeover designed to promote rigorous thinking and analysis.Creators of the SAT exam announced plans Wednesday to toughen the test in the face of stagnant national scores, planning to challenge students to provide more analysis, cite evidence and even turn in their calculators before answering some math questions.
The new version will be first administered in 2016.
"It is time for an admissions assessment that makes it clear that the road to success is not last-minute tricks or cramming but the challenging learning students do every day," said David Coleman, president of the non-profit College Board, which produces the SAT, formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test.
The SAT last underwent a redesign in 2005.
The other major college admissions exam for American students is the ACT, delivered to nearly 1.7 million each year. That test was recently changed and will be made available digitally in 2015, allowing students to see their results in minutes.
The freshly overhauled SAT test includes a more challenging essay assignment scored on the strength of analysis as well as writing. But the score for it will not be part of the final overall test result. Colleges can choose whether to consider it.
As a result of this change, the top score for the new SAT will drop from 2400 to 1600.
Test scoring also was changed, no longer deducting for an incorrect answer. Points are only added for correct answers.
While the scope of the exam has been narrowed in areas such as math and vocabulary, what remains requires more demanding problem-solving – what Coleman described in remarks released Wednesday as "doing a few things very well."
In analyzing reading passages in the exam, students must cite specific passages from extracts of well-known writings to support answers, something not necessary in the current version.
The new test will include science, history or social studies source documents that students will be required to analyze or draw citations from to support answers.
"We are not interested in students just picking an answer, but justifying the answer," Coleman said.
Read the full article HERE.
Friday, February 21, 2014
The Board of Education of Charles County is hosting a joint work session with the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) on Monday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. in the Board room at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building. The following is a tentative agenda:
Call to Order- 6 p.m.
- Pledge of Allegiance
- Review of agenda
- Fact sheet
- Destination College
- Dual enrollment
- College and Career Readiness Act
- New initiative: Joint Telepresence classes offered via virtual classroom
- New initiative: Charles County Middle College
- Board-to-Board communications
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
The Common Core State Standards Initiative Mission Statement:
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.
See www.commoncore.org for a detailed look at what "common core standards" is all about, and what the specific Mathematics and English Language Arts Standards are.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
An earlier post - Asperger': No longer a diagnosis - generated discussion about the possible impact of changes in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), updated by the APA (American Psychiatric Association) in 2013.
There was concern (nationwide) whether the new way to refer to this autistic disorder would impact both medical and educational services for individuals who had been previously been diagnosed with Asperger's.
Autism Speaks is conducting a survey regarding the change; if you have had an experience -- positive or negative, as a parent, family member, educator or clinician -- with the new diagnostic references, please consider taking the time to make input for this organization.
I have included Autism Speaks as a "Link of Interest" on my blog; please check it out!
Friday, February 14, 2014
Have you kept count of the snow days? It's been hard but including today, Charles County Public Schools has used a total of seven snow days this school year.
So where does that leave us as far as making all these up?
We had four automatically built into the school calendar.
Yay, down to three.
We were supposed to have this coming Monday, February 17th off for President's Day. That has been recalled. All students and teachers are to report to school now.
Yay, down to the last two.
The Governor issued a State of Emergency but that does NOT automatically excuse those days for the school system. We must first apply for a waiver, which is yet to be determined.
Please see the below to an article which explains the process statewide and what is happening in other districts in Maryland in a little more detail.
BALTIMORE SUN - SCHOOL SNOW DAYS
According to the calendar the Board decided to first use President's Day and then start taking away from Spring Break, unless we are waived and excused for the last two days. I will keep you posted.
Stay warm and stay safe.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
by Robin Clark
Maryland is No. 1 in the nation in the percentage of graduates who have passed at least one Advanced Placement exam, according to a report released Tuesday by the College Board. As described by the College Board,
Since 2003, there has been a 7.9 point increase in the percentage of U.S. public high school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam, with 17 states exceeding the national average for this percentage change. Once again, Maryland led all other states in the percentage of its public high school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam.The Baltimore Sun describes one possible reason for Maryland’s consistent success in this category,
Maryland’s No. 1 ranking comes in part because so many students take the courses and exams. Nearly half of all Maryland graduates are taking the exams — about 47 percent. Far more than half of graduates will have taken a class, though about 20 percent take the courses and never sit for the exams.Charles County, Maryland showed a particularly steep increase in passing AP scores over the past five years, as reported in The Sun,
To celebrate the news, Gov. Martin O’Malley held a video conference Tuesday with AP students from two Charles County high schools, a district that saw a 20 percent increase in scores of 3, which is passing, or higher since 2009.
Read more HERE
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
The Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday, February 11 will be re-broadcast on Comcast Channel 96, Verizon FIOS Channel 12 and is available via webstream at http://www.ccboe.com/ . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.
The below notes are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the Board of Education meetings and are provided as a request from my supporters and the general public in a personal effort to be more transparent. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as unbiased and accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes.
Executive session – 12 p.m.
Call to order – 1 p.m. - Pledge of Allegiance, North Point High School JROTC
Superintendent’s update - See report
Correspondence/Board Member updates
- Bowie - Westlake - Code.org Thank you for hosting and received certificate
- Cook - Code.org can be used with any subject
- Wise - Scholarship Committee - seniors deadline is March 1. 48 different scholarships with 70 available.
- Wise - EACC Legislative Breakfast
- Testify for stipend raise for board members
Student Board Member update - See report
New school discipline regulations - Addressed in Superintendent's comments
St. Charles High School
- Lockers, lights, doors, cabinets, gym paint and wood floors installed.
- Interviews of staff transfers underway.
- Public works appeal
- LaPlata HVAC approval
- St. Charles $6M approval
- John Hanson gym railing improvement welding done by students
- Abell - loves to see this opportunity for students -- It's a win/win situation -- and hopes to see more of this in the future
- Student shadow asked why students were doing it instead of professionals :)
Ninth grade Earth science textbooks - see report; available as e-book
Middle school health textbooks - Due to weather, will be available for another 30 days
High school government textbooks - Due to weather, will be available for another 30 days
- One stop shop for lesson plans, development, videos, etc.; Share across counties and with other counties; Make some self-help videos available to public for homework
- Abell - We do a subject? Another county do a subject? etc..... yes
- Pedersen - Announce when ready and ask for feedback from teachers? Constantly ongoing and testing with a handful of teachers...should be ready to test drive in the fall
Technology planning for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers
(PARCC) assessments - see report; COST $7,126,656
SY 2015-2016 calendar
- Abell - How will you get public input?
- Balides - Communications will put out a survey
- SB203/HB209 - Charles County board member salary
- SB332/HB297 - optional grant expand pre-K options to add students; no facilities
- HB117 - MSDE request waiver for state mandated testing
- SB779/1198 - school system burden of proof on special education
- SB232/HB727 - amend prevailing wage law 25% of state funding
- HB300 - alcohol beverage license in Charles County
- Baltimore - adopted new discipline practices, policies, rules, etc state-wide. Staff has started making changes and will bring forward to Board as changes are made.
- School APFO committee report - Kudos and thank you to staff;
- Wise - agree with report; concerned on public/private partnership
- Bowie - One room school house tours
- Lukas - Leadership Council Task Force on Arts; concerned with losing the arts to other programs
- Students - Reginald Alexander, 5th grade, Career Readiness, Berry Elementary School; Laura Bond, 5th grade, Academic Achievement, Eva Turner Elementary School; Madison Mote, 8th grade, Academic Achievement, Piccowaxen Middle School; Kim Jacks, 11th grade, Academic Achievement, Henry E. Lackey High School; Alec Hunsaker, 12th grade, Personal Responsibility, La Plata High School
- Staff - Olivia Coffey, school counselor, Berry; Stephanie Boyer, music teacher, Turner; Sandra Chisolm, computer teacher, Piccowaxen; Chief Larry Adams, Air Force ROTC Instructor, Lackey; Vicki Kenworthy, instructional assistant, La Plata; Cynthia Fitzsimmons, special education teacher, F.B. Gwynn Center, Coordinator: Todd Wonderling
- Resolutions: Read Across Charles County; Women’s History Month; and Fine and Performing Arts Month
- Ms. Marki - Berry Elementary - Scotland Heights approval, redistricting, overcrowding Berry, 900+ students, security of trailers, more teachers needed for specials
- Francesca Acheana(?) - Berry Elementary - Bad Table Cafeteria, Reflection Walk, 150+ more students
- Maresha Fieldo - Berry - more trailers, security, no window on door of two trailers, fence around school incomplete
- Ms. Campbell - Berry - Ditto - New traffic pattern dangerous....requires a U turn on Berry road, students not wanting to go to school
- Tony Johnson - Berry - Scotland Heights - redistricting - don't we talk to commissioners?
- Superintendent’s proposed FY 2015 operating budget
The below is a link to the DRAFT report proposed to be submitted to the Commissioners. The committee has until Friday, February 14th to submit any final minor tweaks without another meeting. Any major changes requested by any member of the committee at this point would require the committee to reconvene.
APFO Committee DRAFT Report