Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Class of 2009 meeting demands of High School Assessments


Charles County Public Schools High School Assessment (HSA) results show that more than 80 percent of the class of 2009 passed the algebra and government tests required for graduation and more than 70 percent completed biology and English II requirements.

Students who have not passed the tests, which are a graduation requirement for students in this year's junior class and beyond, are being offered additional classes, support and program adjustments to help move them toward graduation.

Results for last year's sophomore class show that 77 percent, or 1,413 students have met HSA requirements for graduation. There are 73 students, or 3.9 percent, who need to pass one additional exam to meet the requirement and 322 students, or 17.6 percent, who have more than one exam to pass. The end of grade 10 pass rate for algebra is 81.35 percent; 76.02 percent for biology; 73.21 percent for English II; and 86.59 percent for government.

End of grade 9 pass rates are 78.67 percent for algebra and 72.57 percent for government. Not all students take the exams in ninth grade and biology and English II are classes typically taken in the sophomore year.

"We know from these results that the vast majority of Maryland students are finding that they can pass these assessments and will be well on their way to graduation in 2009," said State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick in a release announcing state test results.

Superintendent James E. Richmond was equally optimistic. "As we begin to focus on students who must take these exams to earn their high school diploma, we are seeing higher success rates. The majority of our students have already met the graduation requirements and we are offering remediation and additional help for those students struggling with the exams. The accountability measures are raising achievement levels for all students," he said.

High School Assessments are a requirement for the Maryland High School Diploma for the class of 2009. The HSA replaced the Maryland Functional Tests, a group of basic skills exams, as the exit exams required for graduation. High School Assessments include algebra, English II, government and biology. The algebra and English II scores are also used as part of the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) and to determine Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) at the high school level. The state plans to release AYP results on the state report card site,, later this fall.

Link to article in the Indy to be added later today.

SAT Scores Above State Average but Fall in Math


Charles County Public Schools average score on the SAT, a nationally known college entrance test, is 1523, which is above state and national averages.

Students' average score in the mathematics section of the test is 507, the average score in the writing section is 504 and the average score on the critical reading portion is 512. SAT tests are designed to demonstrate a student's mastery of certain subjects to colleges. Many colleges use the test as a part of the admissions process.

Charles County's score is 25 points above the state average of 1498 and 12 points above the national average of 1511. Only scores for graduating seniors are included in the 2007 report. Students in the class of 2007 were offered more than $25 million in scholarships.

Maurice J. McDonough High School was the highest performing school with a score of 1602. La Plata High School students posted an average score of 1588 and Westlake High School students' average score is 1532. Thomas Stone students posted a 1530 average and Lackey students averaged 1393.

SAT scores decreased 14 points from 1537 the previous year, with critical reading scores remaining the same, math scores decreasing 8 points and writing scores dropping 6 points. State scores decreased 13 points, from 1511 to 1498, and national scores dropped 7 points, from 1518 to 1511.

"This year's scores continue our trend of remaining above the state and national averages, which is our ultimate goal and exceeds the benchmark set by the county. Remaining above the state and national averages enables our college-bound students to compete for acceptance into the college or university of their choice. This is the eighth consecutive year that our students have outpaced these averages, and I commend the students and staff at the high schools for their continued efforts in this area. We know that scores are going to fluctuate from year to year, but it is imperative that we continue to offer a strong academic program and consistent SAT preparation courses," said Superintendent James Richmond.

This year, Charles County Public Schools is providing all high school students access to the Official SAT Online Course, which can be used as a classroom teaching aid, a component of English and math courses, a test-preparation resource or an independent study tool. School staff will help students set up an account and profile this school year. Students may access the program from home after they have created their profile.

The online course is an addition to other in-school preparation programs, including workshops with nationally known experts, summer and after-school review programs and in-class preparation by teachers.

Click HERE for an article in the Baltimore Sun regarding the fall in Math scores.

Grasmick Proposes Alternative to Standardized Tests

According to Capitol Online, State School Superintendent Nancy Grasmick has proposed a plan that would allow students to get their diplomas without passing state-mandated standardized tests.

The State Board of Education will vote in October on the plan. Grasmick says it would apply to children who meet all other requirements for graduation but can't pass the High School Assessment exams in one or more subjects because of test-taking anxiety or other factors.

Passing scores on the HSAs will be required starting with the class of 2009.

Education officials believe the alternative to the test will essentially prevent the state from denying diplomas to students who would have graduated otherwise.

Read more about Grasmick's proposed plan in this Washington Post article.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The New Digital Classroom High School

Want to learn more about the new Charles County High School?

Click HERE and then click on "promotional video".

Let me know what you think.

Monday, August 27, 2007

HSA Results Put Some Students in A Bind

What a great way to start off a new high school year. You've got your schedule all worked out- your supplies purchased - and you are looking forward to some new electives. Then, only AFTER school starts - do you receive your scores on the HSA tests you took last May! If you fall even a point shy of the cut score - now you must rearrange your entire high school schedule to accommodate a remedial course for an HSA test related to a course you already passed! In addition - you don't get the graded test back, so you have no idea what you missed or whether you are the victim of a scoring error (a common occurrence in the private testing industry).

Unfortunately this major disruption in life is occurring to numerous students across the state. Where can they turn? Who is responsible? Maryland State Department of Education

A recent article in the Calvert Recorder by Jaqueline Rabe points out the excruciating scoring delays associated with the HSA program. Read it HERE.

Have you marked your calendar to voice your concerns about the HSA? Check this link for dates and locations

Sunday, August 26, 2007

College Fair, September 17th

CCPS Press Release

More than 130 colleges will participate in the tenth annual Charles County College Fair on Sept. 17, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., at the Greater Waldorf Jaycees Community Center on Crain Highway in Waldorf.

The fair is hosted by Charles County Public Schools. High school juniors and seniors attend the event during the school day as part of the system's career readiness goal in the five-year plan. Students are transported from school by bus and are able to speak with representatives and gather information from colleges from all over the east coast.

The public is invited to attend the evening session of the fair from 6-8 p.m. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to the fair. Additionally, a financial aid workshop will be held in the Militia Room at 7 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hearing Set on Maryland High School Assessments


The Maryland State Board of Education will host a regional hearing Sept. 18 at North Point High School to hear public comments on the Maryland High School Assessment (HSA).
The hearing is at 7 p.m. and the Board will only hear comments on the HSAs. The maximum speaking time is three minutes and time has been scheduled for approximately 40 speakers. Anyone wishing to speak during the hearing must sign up on site beginning at 6:15 p.m.
Although State Board members and education officials will not respond to any comments during the hearing, they will listen and take all comments into consideration as they deliberate education policy.
In addition to the hearing at North Point, the State Board will also hold four other regional hearings in Maryland in September. North Point High School is located at 2500 Davis Road in Waldorf, MD.
Written testimony may also be directed to the Maryland State Board of Education, 200 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201; by email at; or by fax to 310-333-2275. Testimony must be submitted by Sept. 20.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Special Education...or not?

According to an article in today's Indy some parents are questioning the accuracy of the Charles County Public School Systems tests to determine whether a student should be placed in Special Education.

Read more here.

Schools Achieve AYP on State Tests

CCPS Press Release

Improvements in reading and math scores on the Maryland School Assessments (MSA) resulted in the majority of Charles County’s schools meeting state progress targets for 2007.

Twenty Charles County elementary and middle schools met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), according to Maryland State Department of Education data released today. No county schools are on the state school improvement list. Charles County Public Schools has never had a school on the state’s watch list.

AYP is determined by student results on the Maryland School Assessments (MSA) taken by students in grades 3-8 in March. AYP is the gain that schools must make each year in proportion to students achieving proficiency in reading and math. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), schools must show progress across all grade levels and in all race/ethnicity and special services categories—special education, limited English proficient, and economically disadvantaged students. Elementary and middle schools met the standards in 497 of 513 categories.

If a school is unable to make progress in all areas, including attendance, for two consecutive years, it is identified for School Improvement status and faces a variety of requirements designed to bring about improvements. School systems are notified of any school not making progress in all areas for one year, but these schools do not face any state mandates, requirements or intervention.

Seven schools missed achieving a target in one or more subgroups for the first time this year. These schools achieved their Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) last year, but fell short this year. Schools not meeting AYP in one or more subgroups in 2007 are Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School, Gale-Bailey Elementary School, T.C. Martin Elementary School, John Hanson Middle School, Matthew Henson Middle School, Piccowaxen Middle School and General Smallwood Middle School.

“The majority of our schools made the progress required by the state in all subgroups, but we will continue to focus our efforts to ensure that all children are succeeding. Special education continues to be an area needing additional support and we need to explore ways to advance our middle school performance. The department of instruction is already working with schools that did not make AYP to develop improvement plans,” said James E. Richmond, superintendent of schools.

Statewide, system and local school scores are available on the Maryland State Department of Education’s report card,

The Maryland State Department of Education has not yet released High School Assessment scores and graduation numbers. High school students take High School Assessments, and starting with the class of 2009, students must pass four tests – English II, biology, local, state and national government (LSN) and algebra – in order to graduate. High school scores will be released at the end of August. AYP information for high schools will be released in the fall.
Charles County Public Schools
Maryland State Assessment Facts (AYP and MSA)
  • Charles County Public Schools met the standards for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for all students in reading, mathematics and attendance at the elementary and middle school levels in 497 of 513 categories. The state defines AYP as the cornerstone of Maryland’s new accountability system and replaces the School Performance Index as the method by which Maryland tracks academic progress. Schools and school systems must show that students are making AYP in reading, mathematics, attendance (elementary and middle schools) and graduation rate (high schools).
  • No Charles County middle or elementary public school is on the state’s school improvement list, which includes schools that have not met standards for more than one year and are not improving. Information on high school scores will be released in late August and the state will release high school AYP later in the fall.
  • AYP requirements include scores for reading and mathematics for all students as well as subgroups of students. Student achievement is reported in the aggregate (all students) as well as eight subgroups of students. Subgroups are: American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, African American, White (not of Hispanic origin), Hispanic, students receiving free and reduced meals, special education and Limited English Proficient.

Notes from Board Meeting 8/14/07

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. Please follow-up for official minutes upon approval. For copies of printed reports presented visit Board Docs.

Public Forum

  • Male - Substitute teacher for two years. 749 subs in system. Use about 400 daily. 9-10% absentee rate. Teachers paid leave and sick time equals approx. one month out of classroom. Suggests permanent qualified substitutes and a higher pay scale.

Action - Approval of Minutes from 6/12/07 and 6/25/07; motion divided

*Vote to approve 6/12/07 minutes
Unanimous (Cook abstained)
*Vote to approve 6/25/07 minutes
Unanimous (Pedersen abstained)
Correspondence/Board Member Updates
  • None

Report – Superintendent – Jim Richmond

  • 260 new teachers in orientation this week; 50 openings remaining
  • 3 day Leadership Institute successful
  • 60 staff from tri-county attended Space Institute
  • Summer Reading and Math Academies successful
  • Televised Board meetings and broadcast studio ready 9/11
  • Parent-to-School Program available in Nov.
  • Activity Bus Transportation
  • Opening of 8th middle school, Davis, 98% complete
Report – EACC – Bill Fisher
  • New location and number
  • Attend NEA assembly in Philadelphia; main topic was NCLB and impact on educators
  • Members also attended leadership Training
  • Sept. 19th open forum tri-county meeting with legislators, commissioners, BOE members, teachers, and public regarding education budget deficit.
  • New teacher orientation
  • Annual Back to School Crab Feast August 24th.

Report – School Nurses – Keith Greer; Dr. Davidson

  • Significant increase in asthma students; county higher than state
  • Increase in youth obesity
  • Slight increase in youth with ADHD; equal to increase at state
  • Significant increase of students with seizures
  • 184,877 health room visits (88% returned to class)
  • Pedersen - Best method of notifying ALL school personnel of chronic cases
  • Greer - Notify school nurse so personnel in a need to know position can be aware
  • Abell - Update on Gardisil vaccine
  • Davidson - State is currently observing other states for a few years. Academy of Pediatrics does still recommend vaccine. No mandate by the state is being discussed at this time.

Report – Alternative Summer School Programs - T. Weirich

  • Novel
  • Home Instruction
  • Connections
  • Alternative School
  • Summer School
  • Evening School
  • Teenage Parenting
  • Home & Hospital Services
  • Explorers
  • Wise-average length of stay in the alternative program
  • Wierich - 45 days

Report – Athletic Program Preparation - J. Johnson

  • School based parent meeting
  • inclement weather policies
  • ALL coaches are CPR certified
  • Partnership with rescue squad
  • Hydration/Sports nutrition seminar
  • Sports Physicals
  • Field and Bleacher Maintenance
  • Transportation
  • Sportsmanship
  • SMAC
  • Wise - Athletic Trainers on the fields
  • Johnson - yes we would still like to accomplish this and we are working towards that goal.
  • Carrington - Paid staff position for Athletic Trainers
  • Johnson - Yes, would like full time staff
  • Pedersen - Dietitian available for a one-on-one basis
  • Johnson - Yes

Report – Curriculum (Summer Programs) - D. Jepsky

  • 4,826 students participated
  • M - TH
  • included Life Skills

Report – Supporting Services (CIP)- Chuck Wineland; Steve Hagis, Jerry Barrett

  • Davis on time; on budget; grass next week
  • Neal on target
  • Somers - Roof; ceiling on ground floor will be in place for start of school. Completion 8/08; 7 additional relocateables provided by contractor
  • Craik - Roof replacement; 70 % complete
  • Martin - Boiler replacement complete before winter
  • Abell - clarification on students location during phases at Somers
  • Wineland - Second floor lockers can be used with staff presence; 8th graders in trailers for 1st semester and 6th grade in trailers for second semester

Report – State CIP - Chuck Wineland & staff

  • #1 Balance owed on Davis
  • #2 Balance owed on Neal
  • #3 Construction funding for full day Kindergarten
  • Heritage Green will probably be the next elementary school (2010) according to a review of statistics
  • Richmond-Asked for Board and commissioners to consider operational costs of opening a new school. Not just the construction cost.
  • Bailey - Consideration of time line to approach commissioners

Report – Schematics for Full-Day Kindergarten - Chuck Wineland & staff

  • Barnhart, Gale-Bailey, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy, T. C. Martin
  • Richmond - Possibility of adding gyms
  • Wineland - Not. State will fund full-day Kindergarten but not a gym
  • Bailey - Fire escapes and evacuation
  • Wineland - Meets all codes for distance and width
  • Pedersen - lunch shifts; kids eating in classrooms
  • Principals - Eat in cafeteria; lunch shifts are adjusted accordingly

Report – Budget – Paul Balides

  • See report
  • Audit process has begun
  • Surplus $300,000
  • Submitted financial statements
  • Intercategory budget transfers will be submitted in an update
  • Pedersen - cost of milk increase
  • Balides - Not anticipating any additional increases at this time
  • Wise - Vegetarian lunches
  • Balides - yes. more fruits and vegetables per state push, but they cost more. Lunches must have 800 calories per federal requirement

Report - Staffing Update - Keith Hettel

  • 260 teachers hired
  • shortage in math, science and special education; similar across the state. extra recruiting trips have occurred and will continue
  • Wise - Substitute salaries
  • Hettel - We are third in the state for daily rate. Long term sub rates - we are second.

Report - Recurring Resolutions

Action - Personnel

*Vote to approve Personnel


Unfinished Business

  • Pedersen - Diversity Blue Ribbon Committee has asked her to represent the state and county curriculum on diversity
  • Pedersen - MABE's offer to have a public forum in the fall
  • Carrington - Complaint brochure at the printers
  • Cunningham - Parents complaining should be respectful of staff

New Business

Future Agenda Items

  • Bailey - AP scores


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Activity Bus Transportation

Also new this year, per Superintendent Richmond...

"We are adding activity bus transportation to eligible high school students for the 2007-08 school year. The buses are for students participating in high school-sponsored activities that take place after dismissal time. The buses will be routed to serve as many students as possible and will drop students off at central locations along established routes. Students will either walk home or have someone pick them up from the central drop-off locations. Students may only use the service on days when there is an activity in which they are scheduled to participate. Students will be provided bus passes. Locations have not been finalized as of yet.


Also in the Superintendent's Report for today's meeting, a new communication technology tool to brag about.

"We are working to provide a way for parents to check their child’s academic progress and attendance on line through a secure program. The program, Parent-to-School will provide parents access to their child’s demographic information, attendance, grades, transcript and school lunch fund balance. We hope to have the program available in early November."

Eventually we hope to add homework assignments to the information provided.

As a parent, I'm thoroughly ecstatic :)

Televised Board Meetings

Looks like it's going to happen!!! Yahoo!!!

In the Superintendent's Report for today's meeting...

"Work continues on the installation of equipment to film Board meetings and to provide live coverage on Channel 96. Installation of wiring, lights and upgraded transmission equipment is beginning this week. The contractor says we are still on track to air our first live meeting on September 11."

REMINDER: Board Meeting, 8/14/07

Just wanted to remind everyone there is a Board Meeting Tuesday, August 14th.
(Slightly different format since there isn't a recognition portion)
4:30 - Executive Session
5:30 - Board Meeting begins
6:30 - Public Forum (Must sign-up prior to 6:30)
The remainder of the meeting immediately follows Public Forum

To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit Board Docs.

Reports include:

  • Board Members
  • EACC
  • Superintendent
  • Deputy Superintendent - School Nurses; Overview of the Alternative Program; Summer School; Preparation for fall sports
  • Instruction Report - Summer Programs
  • Supporting Services Report - CIP Update; CIP 2009; Full day kindergarten schematics
  • Finance Report - Budget Update
  • Human Resources Report - Staffing Update
  • Recurring Resolutions

Action Items:

  • Personnel