Friday, November 30, 2007

How U.S. 4th Graders Measure Up Internationally

According to an article by the Center for Public Education...

The latest results from an international reading assessment were released today showing that U.S. fourth graders continue to perform well compared to their peers in other countries. The test—Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)—further shows that U.S. performance is relatively unchanged from the last administration of the test in 2001. The 2006 PIRLS was administered to thirty-eight countries, five Canadian provinces, and two samples in Belgium in Flemish and French.

Read more HERE.

Notes, Legislative Breakfast, 11/29/07

The televised Legislative Breakfast will be replayed on Channel 96 on Wednesdays at 9:00 am and Sundays at 2:00 pm for your viewing enjoyment :)

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.

Attendees (to my best recollection)
BOE Members - Abell, Bailey, Carrington, Cook, Pedersen, Wade, Wise
Commissioners - Cooper, Hodge, Graves
Delegates - Levy, Murphy
Senate - Middleton, Hoyer representative
CCPS Staff - Richmond, Cunningham, Estep, Wineland, Schwartz, Stotemeyer, O'Malley-Simpson, Hettel
Others - Comfort

  • Bailey - Boards legislative positions. Emphasis on teacher rehires
  • Levy - Comes up every year. Supports. Baltimore City & PG against because rehires will not want to work in difficult systems
  • Richmond - education issues and taxes clarification
  • Levy - Thorton funding adjusted/delayed. Governor proposed $200M reduction. Changes to $149M. Still a lot of challenges with education funding especially school construction. Over the long term these actions will build a strong foundation.
  • Middleton - growing concern on disparity across the state of teacher retirement
  • Cooper - fiscal impact on school system?
  • Richmond - has numbers but haven't looked at overall impact. Concerned about opening new elementary school
  • Balides - enrollment went flat this year. funding formula based on enrollment. New numbers in December
  • Middleton - Annapolis aware. It is a state issue. Some jurisdictions actually lost.
  • Richmond - need extra help with future growth anticipation
  • Levy - Maryland dealing with overage of debt from years. Can't borrow more. No new commitments on capital construction. Amount is set. 2013 should be lifted. Slots should generate funds
  • Middleton - Capital projects funded with GO bonds not cash. Dire straights
  • Wineland - 3.2% of IAC funds approximately $10M per year. State granting more projects with smaller parts of funds. State still owes $12M on Neal and $6M on Davis. Possibility of new projects slim.
  • Levy - Dust settles, deficits will be identifiable and fixes will be visible.
  • Levy - environment, health care and transportation as well as other programs have been neglected through the years. If the economy gets worst, the outlook is going to darken
  • Hodge - Did special session settle budget and matters or more to come?
  • Levy - Both. Budget matters were settled and nibbling is foreseeable to correct structural deficit.
  • Hodge - Are we going to take another hit in the next session or additional funds being released?
  • Levy - Shouldn't see additional hits. Governor has $200M in cuts to make before next session. Counties should plan about 1%
  • Middleton - Governor loyal to counties, don't foresee local government cuts
  • Cooper - unfunded mandates. all day kindergarten implemented approximately $70M impact on local government. need to be considered by people making decisions on budget.
  • Richmond - best mandate state has ever done. Capital side unfunded. Bridge to excellence funding paid positions, etc.
  • Middleton - Nothing from Superintendent's prior to Thorton passing
  • Richmond - thank you but operating and capital cost needs to be balanced
  • Middleton - population projections need to be looked at
  • Pedersen - plan for 5-10 years out of Thorton. Funds are in jeopardy. Already one high school behind. Growing counties given special consideration?
  • Levy - Can get us those numbers. Pot of funds can be redistributed. larger jurisdictions with shrinking enrollment will not go for this redistribution
  • Middleton - Thorton should be fully implemented in 3 years
  • Levy - Thorton formula will be revisited in 2011 for impact
  • Carrington - hats off for making the tough decisions. We are flat now but when we had the growth we didn't get the extra funding. Still one high school behind
  • Wade - Shortage of teachers. Amazed that federal and state laws require highly qualified teachers yet the state isn't producing them
  • Hettel - state produces approximately 5,000 per teachers per year and need is 10,000-11,000. Recruit from further away. Cost of living. Increased salaries and compressed pay scale to stay competitive. Used to have good scholarship programs in the state that went by the way side. CSM very supportive. Teacher recruitment and retention problem is compounding.
  • Wade - Grasmick spoke 7 years ago about the neglect in the teacher education program. Year-round recruitment.
  • Levy - higher education recognizes problem but their against unfunded mandates also. Baby boomers will be retiring soon. Need re -prioritization of higher education funding. Need to implement "grow your own" Wants specifics
  • Graves - Use to have state teachers colleges, now universities. Look at local colleges to replace. Look at retired career individuals to hire as teachers. Active program to recruit and assist.
  • Middleton - Across all employment sectors due to baby boomers retiring. Doctors, nurses, etc.
  • Pedersen - Second career "hoops" and requirements causing difficulties. Not implying no training is needed.
  • Middleton - energy conservation and teenage driving
  • Murphy - It's never over until it's over. Please keep communication open
  • Graves - Teen driving issues. Level of teacher competency. Seat belt use on school property or loose privileges.
  • Abell - consider legislation of parent notification for teen moving violations
  • Middleton - Have one in place
  • Abell - flaw in implementing
  • Pedersen - kudos for CSM driving program
  • Cooper - retreat in February. possibility of two days instead of one. possible over night.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Police to Help Monitor at Local High Schools

Starting tomorrow, officers from the Charles County Sheriff's Office will be working with the school resource officers to check for seat belt use and the number of passengers in each student's car. If a student is found in violation of the driving laws, tickets will be issued. The officers will no longer give warnings. Police will report all tickets to the school as well as to parents. Students receiving citations may have their parking privileges and permission to drive to school revoked or suspended. Parents driving students to school will also be monitored for seat belt usage.

Thank you Charles County Sheriff's Office

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Municipalist

Check out this cool blog Municipalist about the potential and power of blogging government officials including their trials, tribulations, and triumphs. Yours truly was even featured yesterday, November 27th. It's quite interesting to see other government officials blog sites and what they are saying. It's also quite exciting to watch the wave swell. Enjoy!

The Great Seat Belt Debate

Should seat belts be installed on school buses? Review the facts on School Transportation News and provide me with your feedback.

Historically, the primary reasons proponents have urged seat belts on large school buses include the following.

  • If a crash should occur, the use of seat belts will reduce the probability of death (and the severity of injuries) to children correctly seated in post-1977 buses.
  • Seat belt usage improves passenger behavior and reduces driver distractions;
  • Seat belts offer protection against injuries in rollover or side impact crashes;
  • Seat belt usage in school buses has a carryover effect to future use when riding in other vehicles;
  • The cost to install seat belts is nominal.

Meanwhile, opponents of 2-point seat belts in large school buses contend otherwise.

  • More children are killed in the danger zone around the school bus and as pedestrians walking to and from the school bus stop, than inside the school bus. Seat belts are of no value in these accidents;There is no data to show that seat belts would reduce fatalities or injuries;
  • Fatalities inside school buses represent a very small percent of all school bus fatalities;
  • Over the past two decades compartmentalization has demonstrated it works;
  • The carryover value is negligible, in fact there is no proof of carryover value;
  • Money proposed for seat belt installation would be better spent on other safety measures.

The bottom line, say opponents, is there are no data to show that a safety problem exists in school buses that would be solved by the installation of lap belts.

Read the complete article HERE.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

HEADS UP!!! APFO Work Session Tomorrow


Just found out today that the APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance or in laymans terms...formula for allocating school seats) Joint Committee (Commissioners and Board of Education) will be briefing the commissioners tomorrow, Wednesday, November 28th at 3:00. Yes, this is an open meeting and I'm sure a number of developers will be in attendance... so if you can make it, please do.

Commissioners Interoffice Memo

Adequate Public Facilites Resolution

'No Child' Law May Slight The Gifted, Experts Say

...according to an article in the Washington Post. I don't have to be an "expert" to have figured this one out.


Some scholars are joining parent advocates in questioning whether the education law No Child Left Behind, with its goal of universal academic proficiency, has had the unintended consequence of diverting resources and attention from the gifted.

Proponents of gifted education have forever complained of institutional neglect. Public schools, they say, pitch lessons to the broad middle group of students at the expense of those working beyond their assigned grade. Now, under the federal mandate, schools are trained on an even narrower group: students on the "bubble" between success and failure on statewide tests.

Read more HERE.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dropout Factories

In an article in the Christian Science Monitor, "A plan to fix 'dropout factories'" --
More students will stay if school is harder, safer, and more relevant.

Read the article HERE.

How do we in Charles County fair? Not to shabby if you use the states formula. :)

The percentage of students dropping out of school in grades 9 through 12 in a single year. The number and percentage of students who leave school for any reason, except death, before graduation or completion of a Maryland approved educational program and who are not known to enroll in another school or state-approved program during the current school year. The year is defined as July through June and includes students dropping out over the summer and students dropping out of evening high school and other alternative programs.

The dropout rate is computed by dividing the number of dropouts by the total number of students in grades 9 - 12 served by the school.

Note: Students who re-enter school during the same year in which they dropped out of school are not counted as dropouts.

Reported since November 1990: System and State levels.
Reported since November 1991: School.

Additional information may be found on the School Improvement in Maryland Web site at and the Maryland State Department of Education Web site at .

2007 2.73
2006 3.37
2005 3.45
2004 3.67
2003 2.94
2002 3.19
2001 3.34
2000 4.02
1999 3.45
1998 4.35
1997 4.06
1996 3.29
1995 3.43
1994 3.67
1993 3.17

REMINDER, Legislative Breakfast, 11/29/07

REMINDER: Moved this post back up to the top.

The Board of Education will be attending a legislative breakfast with the county commissioners and delegation on November 29th, 7:30 - 9am, at the Starkey Building. We will be submitting our 2008 package of Legislative Issues. I am requesting input from my constituents (as soon as possible) on legislative issues you would like to have modified, deleted or added. Please click below to view the 2007 Legislative Package that was submitted to the commissioners in 06 to use as a starting point.

2007 Board of Education Legislative Issues
2008 Board of Education Legislative Issues

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

AP Test Scores

Well here they are...AP Test scores broken down by school, by subject. Please click on the link below to view, print, analyze, and provide some feedback. I personally just received them late last night and have not had the opportunity to analyze them. I will refrain from commenting until I do. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!


PS. I apologize for the small print, I tried various different methods of uploading these documents on and off all day and now I must start cooking :) You can print the charts or copy, paste and then enlarge. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience.

STILL WORKING TO REMEDY THE CLARITY. IF YOU WOULD LIKE YOUR OWN COPY (much clearer than the uploaded version), please email me at

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Vital Source

HSAs: How Charles County Helps Students

Building a Nation of Polyglots

Yes I said polyglots. Simply stated, it means multilingual or able to read, write, speak, several languages. After reading the below article, give me your thoughts. We (Charles County) are not building polyglots but we do offer courses in various languages. Is that enough?


The United States, often fiercely chauvinistic and sometimes outright isolationist, has never considered the ability to speak a foreign language an essential talent. Unlike many Europeans and Asians who learn languages in primary school, most Americans do not get the chance until high school or in the grades just before — at too advanced an age to soak in quirky words and syntax with the nimbleness needed for fluency. That is why traveling Americans resign themselves to speaking menu French or Spanish.

But with an economy that recognizes few geographical borders, and with people from all over the planet becoming our next-door neighbors, more Americans are demanding language instruction earlier in school.

Read more HERE

Authorized 2007-2008 AP Courses

A devoted reader sent me this little goodie...thank you!

If you click on the link below, it will take you to a page on the College Board site. Next you will type in the school name and it will list AP courses offered in the 2007-08 academic year that are authorized to include the "AP" designation when listed on students' transcripts. These courses were reviewed by the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) as part of the AP Course Audit in 2007.

Authorized 2007-2008 AP Courses

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

National School Boards Association

As some of you may remember, I was invited to be a blog contributor at the 2007National School Board Association Conference in San Fransisco. The 2008 Conference is scheduled for the end of March in Orlando and I have been invited to be a presenter in a session currently titled "Blogging School District Leaders: Directly Engage Your Community Using the Internet". I have accepted the offer and feel honored and privileged to represent our county at the national level. Thank you for your support.

RELATED ARTICLE ON BAYNET: "Abell Flexes Blogosphere Muscles"

FBI Studies Crime in Schools

FBI Press Release

According to incident statistics submitted to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, of all arrestees involved in incidents occurring at schools, colleges, or universities from 2000 to 2004, 37.7 percent were associated with violent crimes.

The findings are part of the study “Crime in Schools and Colleges: A Study of Offenders and Arrestees Reported via National Incident-Based Reporting System Data” released today by the FBI.

For the study period 2000-2004, there were 17,065,074 crime incidents reported via the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Of these incidents, 558,219, or 3.3 percent, occurred at schools, colleges, or universities (hereafter schools). Based on the data received for the incidents at schools, there were 688,612 offender records (both known and unknown), and 181,468 persons were arrested in connection with the incidents. Further analyses of known characteristics among these incidents revealed the following:

Read more HERE

Notes from Board Meeting, 11/13/07

The televised Board Meeting will be replayed on Channel 96 on Wednesdays at 9:00 am and Sundays at 2:00 pm for your viewing enjoyment :)

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
  • Female - spoke with Mr. Cunningham prior to public forum. Will hold off on commenting at this time because Cunningham offered to work on issues relayed in an email to the Board.
  • Male - Over testing. Teaching to the test takes away valuable instruction time. Statistics artificially depict actual education. Look outside the norm. Kids only learning "inside the box". No creative thinking skills being taught.
  • Male - Rethink high school schedules for better economy. Pilot program for Stone, Westlake, and North Point on a student volunteer basis. Have one school start at 7:30 and then have the same school start another session of high school courses at 2:30 or 3:00. Allow one school to offer year round school. The third school would have a traditional schedule.

Action - Approval of Minutes

*Vote to approve 9/24/07 and 10/9/07 minutes

New High School 2011 - SHW Design group
  • View Report HERE
  • View presentation HERE
  • "Green" elements discussed
  • large parking lot put on north end to keep heat from entering the building
  • Carrington - Faculty space and bathrooms seems larger than necessary
  • SHW - not all teachers will have a dedicated classroom. Lounge used as office space
  • Carrington - Fire alarm system flows are there but tampers are not
  • SHW - That's a narrative and will be addressed later
  • Bailey - Flat roof?
  • SHW - it is slanted per state regulation 1/4 inch per foot
  • Bailey - Showers...modest?
  • SHW - yes
Correspondence/Board Member Updates
  • Abell - invited by the National School Board Association to present a session on blogging and engaging the community at the National Conference in March. She accepted
  • Carrington - Vice Principal Jones at Lackey being inducted into the Hall of Fame
  • Pedersen - Thank you to Wise for presenting at the legislative session. Senate & House are working diligently to save education funding.

Report – Superintendent – Jim Richmond

  • View Report HERE
  • Loss of 4 students at LaPlata; crisis plan worked well
  • Report cards issued, conferences
  • Parents @ School web-site still working on glitches
  • American Freedom Week activities. JROTC participated in Veterans Day Parade
  • 11/19 Student Recognition
  • 12/1 All County Chorus Concerts
  • Audit report clean. No findings
  • Cognitive Abilities Test conducted this week
  • Communications Department won award for presentation on Digital Classroom
Report – EACC – Bill Fisher
  • View Report HERE
  • Thanks to Wise for presenting to legislation
  • currently campaigning to lobby our legislators in Annapolis to fund Governors Budget with no freezes and no caps to school systems
  • invites BOE members to Annapolis with him
  • American Education Week
  • 12/12 Annual legislative reception @ CSM

Report - Student Board Member - Ashin Shah

  • NO CCASC Meeting this month
  • 10/27 MS attended leadership conference
  • 2 students will go to legislative conference @ Chopticon
  • Kids Helping Hopkins is adopted charity and fundraising
  • SGA coordinates all homecomings. Successful
  • Annual Senior Citizens Prom held in February

Report - Deputy Superintendent - Ron Cunningham, Keith Grier - Student Services - School Psychologists

  • View Power Point Presentation HERE
  • 38,000 national, 750 state, 30 county
  • ratio recommended 1:1000 students; we are 1:1404 and steadily improving
  • Training and credentials
  • Safe Schools
  • Suicide Prevention - 45 risk assessments performed already this school year. Assessments tracked from school to schools in event of transfer or promotion
  • Risk assessments have increases dramatically. Not shocking. Means system is working and students are talking instead of acting
  • Violent Risk assessments
  • Wise - Student Support Team - still operating?
  • Grier - Yes
  • Cook - School Counselor credentials
  • Grier - Varies but at least a masters
  • Carrington - Who can make a referral and is it confidential
  • Anyone and depends on case. Students can report confidentially
  • Abell - actual # of suicides or attempted over last few years
  • Grier - Actual confirmed and reported approx. 1 per year x 6 years. steady
  • Pedersen - how long is crisis team at incidents?
  • Grier - until school returns to normalcy. Day after event full team is dispatched and then weaned
  • Grier - Report next month on homeless students

Report – Gifted Education - Judy Estep

  • View Power Point Presentation HERE
  • CogAT Test per COMAR Guidelines requiring identification of Gifted Education students
  • Parent notification; parents will receive scores
  • Staff development ongoing
  • Multiple criteria
  • not to identify and label students. Identify students with additional needs
  • Additional duties to gifted resource teachers. Need to be full-time at all schools.
  • Procedure = broad based screening, in depth assessment, students needs matched to services, parent information
  • Services available at all schools
  • Wise - CogAT doesn't show creative side. Teacher recommendation comes in? What if a child is good at Art...what is the plan?
  • Estep - Yes...teacher or parent referral and as for a plan, we are not at that stage yet.
  • Cook - worried about pressure with tagging students
  • Pedersen - Middle school students picked up by parents and transported to high school math class...Do you this trend increasing or offering more at home school. Some students aren't mature enough to be in the high school environment
  • Estep - more at home school
  • Cook - Leadership aspect
  • Estep - Teachers or parent recommendation
  • Wise - television used for courses
  • Yes...all technologies

Report – Addition of Courses - Judy Estep, Wanda Sellers

  • View Report HERE
  • Marketing Practices & Principles (Business Education)
  • Web Design and Development (Computer Technology)
  • Pedersen - different levels available
  • Sellers - instructor can provide individualized instruction for advanced students
  • Bailey - Pilot program criteria? Cost? Materials? Financial literacy
  • Sellers - Pilot phase. Teacher interest, need, student interest. Staff availability, materials supplied by CCPS and a lot of free materials used. Committee approves. Investment and Financial Management already offered
  • Carrington - wants more info on that course and possibly make it a mandatory class

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

  • See report HERE
  • Presented CIP to IAC. Well received
  • Neal - 55% complete
  • Somers - Phase one almost complete. Transition to Phase two over holidays
  • Craik - all work remaining is on interior and being completed after school hours. Completed by end of the year
  • Wise - Craik flat roof?
  • Hagis - No it is sloped

Report – Budget (Audit) – Paul Balides

  • View Report HERE
  • View Audit Letter HERE
  • Clean audit
  • financial statements are in accordance with regulations
  • internal control - no material weaknesses
  • no instances of non-compliance with laws and regulations
  • nothing negative or out of the ordinary
  • performed our audits for two years. Also audits Charles County Government

Report - Bridge to Excellence - Paul Balides

  • See Report HERE
  • funds sunsets Fall 2008. Additional funds 04-08
  • funding $46.2M over 5 years
  • Expenditures = highly qualified teachers, materials, class size reduction, technology, full-day kindergarten, NCLB initiatives, transfer state grants, North Point
  • Revenues = $46,152,411
  • Expenses = $61,184,789
  • Wise - Extremely thorough report
  • Pedersen - thank you, very thorough

Action - Personnel

*Vote to approve Personnel

Unfinished Business

  • None

New Business/Future Agenda Items

  • View 2008 Legislative Positions DRAFT HERE presented by Attorney Eric Schwartz
  • Pedersen - input staff based?
  • Schwartz - Yes
  • Abell - Reason for change in presentation from previous years? In prior years the past Legislative Positions were given to the Board...board and staff worked on revising. View 2007 Legislative Positions HERE. Requested reason for omitted legislative positions.
  • Schwartz - Staff recommendation. Not trying to tell the Board its position. Sex Education - directly in conflict with legislative position on curriculum mandates. Student Attendance - didn't reflect any interest in Annapolis. Board may want to consider other options. Litigation Matters - Ditto. Recall Charles County Elected Officials - not an issue any more.
  • Pedersen - Attendance issues. 11 unexcused absences = no driving permit. State legislation
  • Schwartz - If topic not addressed in this paper, it can be addressed when it becomes an issue and Board can take a position at that time.
  • Shah - Pupil transportation and seat belts
  • Schwartz - school buses designed differently. Seat belts have NOT shown increased safety on school buses
  • Bailey - proposes legislation for retire/rehire
  • Schwartz - already in the package
  • Bailey - proposes restructure of school construction formula for funds. Change to 70% enrollment growth; 20% renovation; 10% enrollment
  • Schwartz - enrollment decreased in most counties. Legislation won't have support because of that. Current formula intent was to remove the politics.
  • Pedersen - Aging School Program
  • Barrett - funds for aging schools - fields, carpets, floors, etc

*Motion by Bailey, seconded by Cook to request staff propose legislative recommendations on school construction

  • Pedersen - future growth indicates need for change in formula
  • Bailey - proposes NCLB certification requirement needs a broader range
  • Hettel - State Board already has a Task committee looking into this. Not a legislative matter
  • Abell - requests the board review the Communication Goal passed in May 05 to ensure we are on target
  • Abell - requests the board review the Board Benchmarks passed in October 05 to ensure progress or changes the new board would like to implement
  • Abell - Policy 8000 is outdated and needs to be revised


Monday, November 12, 2007

Spellings Pushes on Graduation Figures

If Congress doesn't get the job done, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings says she'll consider using her authority to require states to report high school graduation rates in a more uniform and accurate way.

"I think we need some truth in advertising," Spellings said in an interview, referring to the hodgepodge of ways states now report graduation data.

Read more HERE.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

REMINDER: Board Meeting, 11/13/07

Just wanted to remind everyone there is a Board Meeting Tuesday, November 13th.
Can't can watch it live on Channel 96. It will also be re-broadcast on Wednesday at 9:00 am and Sunday at 2:00 pm.

3:30 - Executive Session
4:30 - Recognition
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:

  • Superintendent -
  • Board Members -
  • EACC -
  • Student Board Member -
  • Deputy Superintendent - Student Service; School Psychologists
  • Instruction Report - Gifted Education: Addition of courses for 08/09
  • Supporting Services Report - CIP Update; Schematics New High School
  • Finance Report - Audit Report; Bridge to Excellence Funding

Action Items:

  • Personnel

New Business:

  • Legislative Issues

Friday, November 09, 2007

AP Q's & A's

Below are two questions posed in another thread concerning AP classes and staff responses.
Are all AP teachers certified by College Board?
There is no AP teacher certification. However, all CCPS teachers have completed the audit with success with very few exceptions. Those few are still under review. They were submitted on time; however, the College Board hires reviewers such as college professors who are not always prompt in completing their review duties. For example, schools submitted that exact same syllabus for a course; some of the schools were authorized immediately, some are still waiting. Once the submitted syllabus is approved the teacher is authorized to teach the course. CCPS also ask all teachers to attend a College Board endorsed week-long summer institute for their course before they teach the class. There are a few exceptions at times, such as when a teacher is hired after the school year begins or has a conflict with training dates in the summer. In those cases, we try to find workshops during the year to support the teacher, provide support through the content specialist and other country AP teachers, and send the teacher to a summer training the next year.
What are the AP audit criteria?
The criteria are determined by the College Board and vary by AP Course. In general, the criteria included the AP syllabus containing information on what will be taught in the course, how the course is organized (thematic, chronological, etc), the skills the course addresses, assignments, required readings, essays, etc, the textbook used, instructional materials used beyond the textbook, etc. The syllabus must show “clear and explicit evidence that fully satisfies” each course’s requirements.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New High School 2011

CORRECTION...NEXT MEETING IS TUESDAY 11/13. Got a little ahead of myself.

The schematic design for the new high school will be presented the board and discussed at the next meeting (12/11/07). Due to the size of this document, it cannot be placed on BoardDocs. I have my one hard copy available for the public to view. I would love for members of the general public, businesses, organizations (especially arts related) to take a look at these and provide me with feedback and/or questions you would like posed. Please contact me via email and we can arrange a time for you to come by (LaPlata) and look through these documents.

LaPlata High School Memorial Fund

A memorial fund has been started to assist the victims families with expenses. If you feel so inclined, please make checks payable Lifestream and in the memo field write LPHS Accident Victims Fund. Please mail to the below address...

LPHS Accident Victims Fund
5105 Leonardtown Road
Waldorf MD 20601

LaPlata Plans Candlelight Vigil for Students

La Plata High School plans to hold a candlelight vigil Friday, Nov. 9, in honor and in memory of four students who died Tuesday evening in an automobile accident on Oliver Shop Road in Dentsville.
A student memorial committee is planning the vigil, which will be held between 5-5:30 p.m. in front of the school at the memorial garden. Following the vigil, La Plata will host its last football game of the season. Players plan to wear black armbands and a moment of silence will be held in remembrance of the four young men.
The four students, Jonathan Chapman, 16, of La Plata, Tavonne Alston, 16, of La Plata, Dionnte Swinson, 15, of La Plata, and Donte Segar, 15, of Hughesville, died from injuries they sustained in the accident. A fifth teen, Markus Allen, 17, of La Plata, was injured in the accident and remains at Prince George's Hospital Center, where he is expected to recover.
An emergency crisis team, composed of psychologists, counselors and pupil personnel workers, were at La Plata on Thursday when students returned to school. The media center was available for students to meet with professionals and members of the team went to each of the young men's classes to speak with students.
After-school activities, with the exception of sports, were cancelled Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Notes from BOE/CSM Meeting, 11/6/07

The televised meeting will be replayed on Channel 96 on Wednesday, 11/7 at 9:00 am and Sunday,11/11 at 2:00 pm for your viewing enjoyment :)

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.

Teacher Preperation Program (Keith Hettel, CCPS)

  • See handouts
  • most of -our out-of-state teachers come from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and upper New York
  • Reasons for teacher turnover...cost of living, new school and growth, retirement bubble
  • Number of teachers needed per each new school...Elem = 30, Middle = 60, High = 130-150
  • Mathematics is our most critical area because change for more money, competition with other systems, stress of testing
  • Most teacher graduates come from Towson for in-state
  • 05/06 school year - 54.1% new hires were first year teachers. OUt of that 17.9% were from MD and 56.2% were from out-of-state
  • Wise - suggests tuition waiver in exchange for 2-3 years teaching in state
  • Tim Keating (CSM) - expects this to be proposed at state level within the next year
  • Brad Gottfried (CSM) - Suggests MSDE provide guidelines/policy for retiring professionhals to become teachers. Expand current program.

Joint Efforts -Articulation Agreement (Judy Estep, CCPS - Tim Keating, CSM)

  • See handouts
  • English College Prep courses given senior year as opposed to college remedial
  • Science - Fair judges, STEM grades 3-12 learning modules (partnership CSM/CCPS/NSWC)
  • Annual planning CSM/CCPS
  • Math Articulation agreement in process for Finite Program. College credit to be given. Taught in high school by CCPS teacher/CSM professor.
  • 5 CSM teaching students "assist" 3 days a week at Diggs
  • Gottfried - Suggest a program he would like to start where all CCPS 5th grade students would tour CSM for a day and discuss opportunities and careers to promote students to continue on for a higher education.

Scholarships (Tim Keating, CSM)

  • Energetic Technology Center Grant - STEM students 2 yrs @ CSM + 4 yr college
  • Grant Proposal STEM - National Science Foundation
  • Grant Proposal - Community Based Job Training

CSM Profile (Bill Comey, CSM)

  • See handouts
  • Average age is 26, 66% women, 64% white,48% transfer, 56% atend day.
  • Most popular degress: General Studies, Nursing, Accounting, Business Administration
  • SAT Discussion pros/cons. CSM is open enrollment...does NOT require SAT scores for admission but DOES use SAT's when awarding some scholarships.
  • Stats given, by high school, for number of students attending CSM

Dual/Concurrent Enrollment (Bill Comey, CSM)

  • Previously called Early Admission
  • Dual enrollment = enrolled in college & receives credit for high school and college
  • Concurrent enrollment = enrolled in college and receives college credit ONLY.
  • Dual = 50% off tuition and additional scholarship assistance can be offered
  • Placement tests required only for subject taking
  • Abell - Questioned whether Charles County accepts dual enrollment credits.
  • Estep - Not at this discussions with CSM.
  • Abell - St. Mary's allows

Monday, November 05, 2007

Student Suspensions Decrease

Suspensions in Charles County Public Schools decreased during the 2006-07 school year, according to a recent report sent to the Maryland State Department of Education. Suspensions dropped slightly from 5,866 in the 2005-06 school year to 5,662 despite an increase in student population and the opening of a new school.

Charles County Public Schools continues to implement programs to help promote positive behavior and alternatives to out-of-school suspensions. Keith Grier, director of student services, said the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program, which was introduced in 1999, has grown in the county and is working. PBIS is a voluntary state program that helps schools create better school climates, spend less time on discipline and more time on teaching and learning. There are 30 Charles County schools participating in the program, and many of them have been awarded as Exemplar by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Additionally, Grier said some schools are using a suspension diversion program coordinated through the Department of Juvenile Justice to allow students found in violation of less serious rules to work at the school over the weekend rather than be suspended. One example is student assistance in cleaning stadiums after football games. Additionally, several high schools have Saturday detention, also in lieu of suspension. Many schools use in-school suspension to allow a student to remain in school, away from the classroom, but still completing assigned work for the day. Grier said the school system is also looking at a secondary school mediation program as another intervention to reduce suspensions and time out of school.

Charles County continues to broaden its alternative programs, primarily at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center. These programs are for students whose behavior makes it difficult for them to fit into or remain in school-based classrooms. The Stethem Center staff is piloting a prevention program at Theodore Davis, Matthew Henson and John Hanson middle schools to help students change disruptive habits so they can avoid behavior that leads to suspension.

"The goal is not to reduce suspensions, but to use data to put in place programs that help students change behaviors that lead to suspension," said Deputy Superintendent Ronald Cunningham. He added that the Student Code of Conduct is distributed at the beginning of the year to all students and parents with the expectation that they will read it and re-enforce the rules at home. Some offenses, Cunningham said, will always result in suspension, such as possession of weapon or illegal drugs or participating in gang activity at school.

Charles County Public Schools is posting suspension data as part of its ongoing efforts to address and monitor suspension rates in schools. Information posted on the website includes 2005-06 and 2006-07 end-of-year suspension figures by category as well as category definitions. The reports are also located at

Additional suspension information prior to 2006-07 is reported by the Maryland State Department of Education at:

Maryland State Teacher Association

Maryland State Teachers Association made their first video to share publicly and I LOVE it.

View a related article in the Baltimore Sun HERE.

Achievement by Design

In the American School Board Journal...

Buildings and classrooms play a role in how students learn but while amenities are nice, don't let the frills overshadow your district's instructional goals.

Read more HERE.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

CSM Board & Board of Education Meets, 11/6/07

The Charles County Board of Education and the College of Southern Maryland Board of Trustees are meeting Nov. 6, 5-7 p.m., at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The meeting will be aired live on Comcast Channel 96 and rebroadcast at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11.

The two boards attempt to meet annually to discuss topics of mutual interest for students, teachers and the community. Agenda items include teacher preparation courses, joint efforts, math and English initiatives, Energetics Technology Center grants, grant proposals for scholarships and Department of Labor community-based job training programs.

Additionally, board members will receive a profile of College of Southern Maryland students from Charles County, dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities and newer academic career programs.

A complete agenda can be found on the school system website, at, under the BoardDocs link.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)

According to CCPS...

Second and fifth grade students in CCPS will take the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) during the week of November 13th. This test will be used as one of several screening tools to identify students in need of gifted education services for the 2008-2009 school year and to assist classroom teachers in making instructional decisions for their students this school year.

CogAT is a group-administered test which measures students' reasoning and problem-solving abilities. These abilities are assessed on three sub tests using words (verbal sub test), numerical concepts (quantitative sub test) and spatial/figural drawings (nonverbal sub test). Each sub test takes about 45 minutes.

The CogAT is used nationally, as well as by several Maryland counties, as a tool in the identification of academically gifted students. It has been found to be especially helpful in finding students who may not show up on measures of academic achievement alone. In addition, the CogAT provides instructional information for classroom teachers. Teachers can review their students' test results to plan instruction that meets the needs of the specific types of learners in their class.

A parent report created by Riverside Publishers will be sent home for each student who takes to CogAT. The report will provide a score for each sub test, a composite score, and information about your child's results.

If you have any questions, please contact the gifted education resource teacher at your child's school.
In addition, I found this link helpful and informational Riverside Publishing.