Friday, October 31, 2008

State board votes to keep HSA requirement

7-4 vote rejects motion to delay implementation of standards needed to graduate

By Sara Neufeld and Liz Bowie and
8:20 PM EDT, October 28, 2008

Maryland's state school board made a final decision Tuesday to hold firm and require this year's high school seniors to pass four subject tests to graduate in June, although it left open the possibility of exemptions for special education students and those learning English.

The decision leaves 9,059 students across the state -- or about 17 percent of the Class of 2009 -- at risk of not getting a diploma, according to data released Tuesday.

Only 70 percent of African-Americans statewide and 50 percent of special education students have met the requirements. But the group most likely to be barred from graduation are immigrants who are learning English. Many have not yet taken all the tests and only 15 percent have met the requirements.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Downturn Expected to Drive Tuition Up

Published: October 29, 2008

Tuition costs rose slightly faster than the Consumer Price Index last year, and students received record amounts of financial aid, according to the annual reports on college pricing and student aid released Wednesday by the College Board.

But while financial aid is growing, average student borrowing is still going up, as well.

Moreover, many education experts said that the report’s findings of relatively stable college affordability, based on data gathered before the current economic downturn, might already be outdated. With the troubles in the stock market, they said, both public and private colleges may soon be in serious financial straits, forcing large increases in tuition.

Read more HERE

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, III

Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, III., President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County was invited to speak at the Starkey Building today. Most board members as well as several staff, parents and students were in attendance.

Dr. Hrabowski spoke very highly of CCPS however his presentation took a turn when it came to SAT's. Basically, CCPS overall average SAT scores are not reflective of CCPS as a whole. We need to do something. In addition, he stressed that ALL students should be taking the SAT. (Does this sound familiar? It should. It's what I've been trying to stress for the last four years. Maybe if a doctor says it someone will listen.) He even went on to mention, he knew for a fact that some CCPS counselor's have even discouraged students from taking the SAT. (Yep, I said that before too. My daughter was one of them.) We are limiting their options by not encouraging them to take the test. The rumor of college's not looking at the scores as much any more was brought up and he emphatically said it was a "joke". Yes indeed, colleges are looking at these scores.

I believe the session wast taped, and might be edited, but will probably be aired on Channel 96. Here is the link to the schedule.

HSA Results

Charles County Public Schools High School Assessment (HSA) results show that 91.9 percent of the students in the class of 2009 who have taken all four HSAs have met the graduation requirement.

Of the entire class of 2009, which includes students who have not yet taken all four tests, 88.7 percent have met the requirement. These figures are as of May 2008 and do not include the additional 1.2 percent of students who reached the goal over the summer through the HSA Bridge program. Students meeting the requirement have either achieved a passing score on each of the four tests, achieved a combined score of 1602 on all four tests or completed it through the Bridge Plan. The school system started the Bridge Plan this summer for those students who are having difficulty with traditional tests.

HSA is a requirement for the Maryland High School Diploma for the class of 2009. HSAs 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.

After the May administration of the HSA, there were 226 students of 1,992 who had not met the HSA requirement for various reasons. Of those students, 70 seniors have not taken all four assessments  40 students have one test to take, 12 have two tests, eight have three and 10 have not taken any of the four assessments. There are three additional opportunities for students to take or retake the tests this year. "We anticipate that once these students have completed all four exams, they will meet the HSA graduation requirement," Superintendent James E. Richmond said.

Since May, 22 additional students met the HSA requirement through the Bridge program, and approximately 40 other students have submitted final projects that could be accepted within the next two to three weeks. "The percentage of students meeting the requirement changes every week and the vast majority of the students who started the process in the summer are making great strides toward meeting the requirement," said Drew Jepsky, director of instructional assessments. "Most of the 65 students who started the process in the summer have completed their projects or are only a few away from meeting the requirement," Jepsky said.

Additionally, there are 137 students who are working on Bridge projects this fall. "These students are moving closer each day to completing their projects, and I believe that by January we will have close to 100 percent of our students meeting the HSA requirement," Jepsky added.

The Bridge Plan offers some students who have not achieved passing scores on assessments an optional way to meet the HSA requirement. Students failing to pass an HSA can complete a single eight- to twelve-hour project for every twenty-one points they fall short of the passing score.

Students who have not passed the tests are being offered additional classes, support and program adjustments to help move them toward graduation.

"Our biggest concern now," said Superintendent James E. Richmond, "is the number of students we have transferring into our school system who have not met the HSA requirement or taken all of the tests. We have 156 new students who entered our schools this year as seniors and have not taken all the tests. We continue to work with all students to help them achieve this graduation requirement," Richmond added.

HSA results by school and for the county are on the CCPS Web site at on the Fast Facts page.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Board Approves Budget Cuts

The Charles County Board of Education unanimously approved $4.35 million in cuts to its fiscal year 2009 budget Monday evening to meet a 3 percent reduction imposed last week by the Charles County Commissioners.

Reductions include a hiring freeze that has been in place since early summer, elimination of fund balance reserves and a decrease of the transportation budget.

Superintendent James E. Richmond told the Board the changes require internal job realignments and eliminates available fund balance reserves; however, it limits direct impact to the classroom and students. The cuts are one-time resources and permanent base reductions, if needed, will be determined during the fiscal year 2010 budget development next year.

The school system plans to maintain a hiring freeze, put in place this summer, on 32 vacant positions for the remainder of the fiscal year. Richmond said normal procedure when a vacancy occurs is for staff to evaluate the positions and realign when appropriate. Workload responsibilities from the positions, 27 of which are based at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, have been temporarily transferred to other staff or suspended. Reduction to the budget from the hiring freeze is $1.6 million.

Richmond told the Board that the cuts, especially personnel, could begin to strain operations and staff. Each position, and its impact on the school system, employees and the classroom, will be evaluated at the end of the school year. "Employees who have been asked to take on more work have been understanding and recognize the need to absorb the additional workload," Richmond said.

Fund balance reductions include elimination of reserves set aside for other post employment health insurance benefits (OPEB), the digital classroom and special projects for emergency repairs. Fund balance reserve reductions total $2.375 million.

"We recognize the importance of providing funding for retiree health benefits in the long term. The school system took steps last fiscal year to establish and partially fund an OPEB trust. If we have savings available in the health insurance program at the end of the fiscal year, we may recommend replacement funding. We are still committed to providing health insurance benefits to our retired employees," Richmond told the Board.

The digital classroom reserves are set aside to match federal funding for the classroom technology, which is a component of the school system's technology and instructional vision for the next new high school. However, the new high school, which will house the digital classroom, may not be completed in the original time frame. "The school system will work hard to find replacement resources for this project if it is ultimately approved," Richmond said.

The cuts also include a $375,000 reduction of the transportation budget. The budget includes an estimate of $5.50 per gallon for diesel fuel. The average price, so far this school year, has been less than $4 per gallon. The reduction is the savings already realized this school year due to the recent and steady decline of diesel fuel prices.

Richmond told the Board that he endorsed the cautious approach to managing these cuts. "Our first priority is to limit impact to the classroom and to maintain high quality services and support to our students, classrooms and teachers. I believe we have accomplished that objective. Hopefully, there will not be any more cuts this year," Richmond said.

View a video from Mr. Richmond to employees with more specifics HERE

Monday, October 27, 2008

TONIGHT: Board to Hold Q & A on New High School UPDATE!

The Board of Education will hold a questions and answers session about the new high school on Monday, October 27, 7-9 p.m., at Mary B. Neal Elementary School.

The public is invited to attend. (please come, I'm begging you.)

The Board of Education has scheduled an Executive (closed) Session Meeting at 6:00 p.m. prior to the question and answer session.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Open Thread Sunday!

"Open Thread" is a place for you to tell me what you would like to see on this site. What can I do to make it more user-friendly, topics you would like to see discussed in the future, questions or concerns. If I missed your questions on another thread, please direct me to them here.

So here you go, give me your feedback.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kids Less Likely to Graduate than Parents

Most states doing little to hold schools accountable, says advocacy group
updated 12:17 p.m. ET, Thurs., Oct. 23, 2008

Your child is less likely to graduate from high school than you were, and most states are doing little to hold schools accountable, according to a study by a children's advocacy group.

More than half the states have graduation goals that don't make schools get better, the Education Trust says in a report released Thursday.

And dropout rates haven't budged: One in four kids is dropping out of high school.

Read more HERE

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Time for Round Two!

The Commissioners will be meeting again, next Tuesday, October 28th. You're probably saying "that's no surprise Jen, they meet most Tuesdays." Well take a gander at the agenda…pay special attention to the two agenda items in bold…

8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Charles County Economic Outlook Summit (Waldorf Jaycees) (No Live Broadcast)

3:00 p.m. - Public Hearing: Bill #2008-17 Scrap Metal

3:15 p.m. - County Business - Update on Special Police Officer Process (Ms. Joane Gulvas/Mr. John McConnell)

3:15 p.m. - County Business - Approval of Minutes of October 7-8, 2008 and October 14-15, 2008/Consent Agenda

3:30 p.m. - Public Hearing: Bill #2008-18 Replica Firearms

3:40 p.m. - Briefing: Request for Proposal for Transfer Station (Mr. Dennis Fleming, Public Facilities/Mr. Tom Kelley, Purchasing)

4:00 p.m. - Public Hearing: Bill #2008-19 Campaign Signs

4:15 p.m. - Briefing: Tax Assessment Program (Mr. Robert Farr, Charles County Tax Assessor)

4:40 p.m. - Follow-up Budget Work Session (Ms. Deborah Hudson, Fiscal & Administrative Services)

5:20 p.m. - Presentation to Ms. Michele Fox

5:25 p.m. - New Business

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From Mr. James Richmond

Video Message from James Richmond to employees

Email from Mr. Richmond to employees

Dear Charles County Public Schools employees:

Earlier today I sent a video message about the projected county funding shortage. I attended the Charles County Commissioners meeting this afternoon, and while I do not have a lot of additional information, I wanted to share a few more details.

This afternoon, the Charles County Commissioners announced a potential $8 million to $9 million budget shortfall that will impact funding to the school system. We do not have definite funding cut estimates; however, we have been notified that the shortage will affect our budget.

Let me assure you that people – all Charles County Public Schools’ staff – are our top priority. We are a people business, and every employee has a role in providing a quality education to our students. As we review our budget, we will look first at our fund balance, material goods and other areas.

The classroom, students and a quality learning environment will remain our focus regardless of any adjustments we need to make.

While we did not anticipate any further cuts from the county beyond the ones made prior to the start of the school year, we are aware of the difficulties states, counties and school systems across the nation are experiencing. Because of that, we have done a number of things to help keep the school system financially sound and to conserve our resources.

We opened Mary B. Neal Elementary School by transferring staff where possible.

Since the beginning of the school year, we have frozen 32 vacant positions, most in the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, to provide a possible buffer in the event we receive additional cuts. My sincere thanks go to the employees who have picked up additional job responsibilities that allow us to keep these positions vacant.

During the summer, we changed office hours and consolidated programs in order to save money. The $160,000 energy savings will help offset additional costs for relocatables added this year.

There are no easy fixes to the economy and we do not see relief in the immediate future. In the meantime, we still need to provide our students with quality instruction, safe schools and the skills and education necessary for them to be successful in a global market. Our mission, vision and accountability do not change even though our budget may. I ask that we work together, conserve our resources and continue to strive for excellence.

Thank you for all you do for children each day. I will keep you informed as decisions are made and we learn more.

James E. Richmond
Superintendent of Schools

Monday, October 20, 2008

November Board Work Session


The November Board Work Session will be held on November 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the Starkey Building. Please mark you calendars accordingly.

Weast, Grasmick disagree over HSAs

Click HERE for the complete article from the Montgomery Gazette dated October 8, 2008

Click HERE for the resolution passed by the Montgomery County Board of Education

FROM SUE ALLISON – MAHST (Marylanders Against High Stakes Testing)

In the October 1, article, MD Supt. Nancy Grasmick scolds Jerry Weast for not being "collegial":

"It is interesting that 23 other school systems have worked collegially with MSDE staff to resolve issues they have encountered with the implementation of both the High School Assessments and [No Child Left Behind],"

Isn't that RICH! Is it "collegial" to force Jerry Weast to tell parents their children's hard earned diplomas will be shredded this spring, despite the fact that Dr. Grasmick and her collegial staff have not lived up to their own responsibilities?

The HSA Bridge Plan is an opportunity for certain students to submit “projects” that will allow them to graduate if those students are unable to achieve passing scores on the HSAs. Superintendent, Dr. Weast is asking parents with HSA, Bridge Plan concerns to attend the October 28th MD State Board of Education meeting in Baltimore.

During a meeting with her child’s high school principal, Nannette, a Montgomery County parent, discovered there would now be two graduation dates. The first being a traditional date in the spring and the second being sometime in August for those students whose final bridge projects were not graded on time. It was also mentioned that the “projects” would now be graded by the county and not by the state as was mentioned all along – including on MSDE’s HSA’s own website. Nannette was outraged to hear that the second graduation date has been set for sometime in August. “Well thank you very much for having a self contained graduation for our children! This is just what we need to hear – more exclusions!”

The Montgomery County Board of Education recently passed a resolution supporting a delay in HSAs being tied to diplomas. This resolution begs the question -- why is Montgomery County standing alone in this fight? Where is the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE)? Isn't this why our county boards of education pay them dues - to join together to fight unjust mandates? Isn't this the perfect time for them to step up to the plate? And if not now - WHEN?

Our friend, Nanette, called all 24 local boards to find out who would be attending the October 28, state board meeting. She found that only five superintendents may attend (Weast-Mo. Co., Alonso-Balt. City, Shirley-Caroline, Teets-Garrett, and Hildebrand-Dorchester) and of them, only three plan to speak (Weast, Alonso, and Shirley).

Why not drop these superintendents a line and give them your concerns and remind them that they will be representing many more Maryland high school students than just those who reside in their own county. Then, drop your own superintendent a line and ask why he or she is not speaking at the meeting. What could be more pressing than hundreds of Maryland high school students being denied diplomas when they’ve clearly passed all their state-mandated classes? While it could be a career-limiting event to cross Dr. Grasmick and the MSDE, (by Maryland law, local boards hire superintendents but only the state superintendent has the authority to fire one) there is more at stake than job security for these well-paid superintendents – our children’s futures!


Well if reading the Charles County AP results made you feel slightly ill, then you better get the alka seltzer ready. Here is a link to the national statistics.

College Board

Commissioners Meeting, 10/21/08

Oh to heck with caution.

Everyone be sure to tune into the Commissioners Meeting tomorrow, October 21 at 12:45.

Scheduled: Budget Presentation

Better yet, try to attend :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Open Thread Sunday!

"Open Thread" is a place for you to tell me what you would like to see on this site. What can I do to make it more user-friendly, topics you would like to see discussed in the future, questions or concerns. If I missed your questions on another thread, please direct me to them here.

So here you go, give me your feedback.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

NOTES: Board Meeting, 10/14/08

The Board Meeting Tuesday, October 14th will be re-broadcast on Channel 96 on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.; Fridays at 9 a.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. . 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, Maurice J. McDonough High School's JROTC unit

REPORT - Superintendent's Update to the Board

  • CISCO - telepresence
  • 5th graders to visit CSM
  • CSM Board of Trustees Meeting
  • Parent@ School- looking for replacement

REPORT - Board Member Updates (no report available)

  • Wise - Re-creation of rainforest
  • Wise - Phone call from Connie Graves re: recycling
  • Carrington - recommends CC Government to supply bins
  • Pedersen - what counts results have been emailed
  • Berringer - sporting events recycling
  • Abell - Q & A Meeting. Than k you to Carrington and Wade for attending. Topics discussed included recycling, hand washing, school zones, school lunches
  • Cook - Suggests all BOE members to conduct meetings
  • Pedersen - great idea but more than one member at a time
  • Carrington - visiting schools
  • Wade - MABE committees

REPORT - Education Association of Charles County Update

  • Read report
  • Pedersen - will forward What Counts results
  • (BTW, since these were mentioned throughout the board meeting, I have since requested they be posted for the public viewing...still waiting)

REPORT - Student Board Member Update

  • Thanks to Wise and Cook for attending
  • Safe driving

REPORT - Deputy Superintendent Update - School Recognitions (no report available)

  • Enrollment 26,731 students...up 557 from last year
  • 3,192 students new to Charles County
  • Out of the 3,192 students new to Charles County, 1,436 are attending school for the first time
  • Changes in County Recognition program - wants to change to one per semester instead of quarterly and hold one at each high school on all the same night..
  • Abell - concern with parents no getting to see both children if at different high schools
  • Richmond - trying to increase parent participation and attendance; no way not to conflict with some other event
  • Wise - What if we did only three high schools
  • Pedersen - Talked about personal experiences
  • Abell - suggests six different dates
  • Richmond - won't work; trying for one year

REPORT - Finance Update - FY2008 Audit Presentation; Audit Report; Budget Update

  • Met 9/30 deadline
  • All is good
  • Read report

REPORT - Supporting Service Update - CIP update

  • All schools have recycle dumpsters and blue bins but not enough for every classroom
  • Read report
  • Security system - remotely monitoring from all over the country regarding alarms. Not a physical body at the building monitoring systems on nights, weekends, and holidays.

REPORT - Instruction Update - Student Service Learning; PowerPoint

  • See report and power point
  • Abell - pointed out that an organization does NOT have to be a member of the United Way in order to qualify for this

REPORT - Instruction Update - Title I Parent Involvement Policy; CCPS Policy

  • See report

REPORT - Instruction Update - Testing

  • See report (all 8,455 pages; jk) ...covers MSA's, SAT''s, and AP's...lots of information
  • Abell - Asked for numbers of graduating seniors "predicting" they will be attending universities, 2-year colleges, vocational, military, etc.
  • Eichel - That information is in the graduation programs
  • Abell - unfortunately didn't save them from all the graduations for the last three years
  • Eichel - will compile data and forward
  • Abell - asked for AP scores by high school, by course
  • Eichel - already on the CCBOE website
  • Abell - reason for not including in this report
  • Eichel - didn't want to make the report to lengthy
  • Abell - ROFLOL

REPORT - Instruction Update - New Health Curriculum - (Moved to November)

REPORT - Human Resources Update - Teacher Retention

  • See report
  • Abell - student teachers...o we still have; haven't seen any in my visits to schools over the last few years
  • Hettel - not as many; University of Maryland students stay around campus; occasionally we will get some that live in this area


  • Carrington - National Conference, thinks we should go, it's in the budget
  • Cook - agreed; most MABE members are going
  • Wise - FEA sponsors can't go to their conference?
  • Cunningham - Talking to the principals tomorrow about this. Also, parents have to fund their students. In this economic turmoil, there may not be as many attending anyway.

NEW BUSINESS - Contract Award for Full-Day Kindergarten

Motion by Wise; Second by Pedersen
Accept Superintendent's recommendation


  • Wade - thank you to board members for participating and attending all that you do
  • Wade - New high school briefing paper
  • Wade - 10/27 forum; no work session this month
  • Pedersen - what counts information; November work session
  • Abell - school lunch program from start to finish; where do we get the food, who decides the food, which schools prepare on-site; nutritional value; costs, etc.

RECOGNITION - 4:30 p.m. - October Recognitions

PUBLIC FORUM - 6 p.m. (Rules)

  • Male - "Drive to Survive"; teaches officers how to respond to emergencies safely. Program to minimize panic behind the wheel. Sheriff Coffey endorsement. Wants to offer to all students. Offer twice a month. Eight hour program for 15 students and awareness clinic for parents
  • (I just wanted to add here...this gentleman brought the car simulator and I had a chance to try it out after the meeting...I was impressed. You wear goggles that has a video while your actually sitting in a car and using the pedals and steering wheels. Similar to a video game. I don't know how useful this would be in actually letting the students FEEL a car sliding across ice or how not to over correct when you drop of the edge of the road)

ACTION - Minutes September 9, 2008; Motions September 9; Minutes September 30, 2008

Motion by Carrington; Second by Wise
Accept the Minutes

ACTION - Personnel

Motion by Wise; Second by Pedersen
Accept Superintendent's recommendation

ACTION - FY 2009 Comprehensive Maintenance Plan

Motion by Wise; Second by Cook
Accept Superintendent's recommendation

Experts question benefit of school time-out rooms

Associated Press Writer

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- After failing to finish a reading assignment, 8-year-old Isabel Loeffler was sent to the school's time-out room - a converted storage area under a staircase - where she was left alone for three hours.

The autistic Iowa girl wet herself before she was finally allowed to leave.

Appalled, her parents removed her from the school district and filed a lawsuit.

Some educators say time-out rooms are being used with increased frequency to discipline children with behavioral disorders. And the time-outs are probably doing more harm than good, they add.

"It really is a form of abuse," said Ken Merrell, head of the Department for Special Education and Clinical Sciences at the University of Oregon. "It's going to do nothing to change the behavior. You're using it as an isolation booth."

Read more HERE

Friday, October 17, 2008

Md. school creates classes for Asperger's students

September 7, 2008 - 2:34pm

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (AP) -When children who have behavioral quirks or who are lacking in social skills are also bright and capable, schools tend to assign them to regular classrooms.
But that can lead to student meltdowns when even little things go wrong.

Montgomery County has several programs to address one of the most vexing problems in special education: What to do with a child who is disabled, but capable of work at or above grade level?

At Diamond Elementary School, students with Asperger syndrome, a developmental disability on the autism spectrum, learn in special education classes the skills they need to successfully transition to mainstream classrooms. It's one of the few Asperger's education and development programs in the nation at a public school.

Robyne Barth's 10-year-old son, Alex, has Asperger's. But he is a sociable and accomplished student at Diamond.

"I couldn't see my child as anything. I couldn't imagine him having a normal life," said Barth, of North Potomac. "And now, my child has a personality. He's funny. I can see him as an engineer. I can see him as an architect. I can see his life."

Diamond's program educates 15 students each year to cope with their disorder and to help them move to regular classes. The school has two teachers and four assistants dedicated to the task.

Seven years ago, the school system wanted to help the more than 1,000 students affected by autism by offering assistance at Diamond, Sligo Creek Elementary School, and Tilden and Montgomery Village middle schools. The help is available to any of the 137,000 students in the system - and participation should rise since the autism population increases each year by more than 17 percent.

Anne Arundel County also has a program designed for students with Asperger's, or high-functioning autism. The county school system has teamed with a private special education school to help autism-spectrum children move into regular classes at two schools, Severn River Middle and Severna Park High.

James Ball, a behavior analyst in Cranbury, N.J., said Diamond's program "should be looked at as a model program" because children with Asperger's "are a unique breed of kids, and they do respond to a variety of unique teaching strategies."

Diamond challenges students with Asperger's to raise their hands, not scream, when they need something. And if a student's efforts to succeed in a normal class are met with a hectic day, the student can retreat to the books, board games and toys in the Asperger's classroom.

Children receive rewards for good behavior and even fill out a contract laying out the social skills each student will work to learn.

Staci Daddona of Gaithersburg has seen the change in her 7-year-old, Justin. Before entering Diamond's program, he obsessively opened and closed doors and repeatedly flushed the toilet at home. At school, he ignored his teacher and fellow students to play with a top - all day, every day.

But he's now in some regular classes and is beginning to recognize when he's anxious and unfocused on schoolwork and social skills.

"When he starts to stand up, he'll press on the desk, because he's trying to calm himself that way," his mother said. "And she'll say, 'It looks like you need a break.' And that happens before he throws a pencil, and all the things that happened last year."


Information from: The Washington Post,

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Here they are, I haven't had time to open them and review yet and probably won't get to until the weekend. If someonegets the chance, please look over them and provide the skinny. Thanks

County AP Results - 2008 2007
Lackey AP Results - 2008 2007
La Plata AP Results - 2008 2007
McDonough AP Results - 2008 2007
North Point AP Results - 2008 2007
Thomas Stone AP Results - 2008 2007
Westlake AP Results - 2008 2007

What is the Problem with Education in America?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Highly qualified teachers in most CCPS classrooms

The percentage of certificated teachers in Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) for the 2007-08 school year was 95 percent, which is 9 percent higher than the state average.

The percentage of certificated teachers in CCPS increased 11 percent over the last five school years, as 84 percent of teachers were certificated in the 2003-04 school year, according to Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), 2008 Maryland Report Card statistics.

In CCPS, 95 percent of teachers hold either a standard professional certificate or an advanced professional certificate, and 5 percent have conditional licenses and are working toward full certification.

The percentage of classrooms taught by highly qualified teachers has also increased over the past five school years, from 51 percent during the 2003-04 school year, to 91 percent during the 2007-08 school year, which is 6 percent higher than the state average.

The school system attributes the increases to its focus on hiring highly qualified teacher applicants.

"Principals have made efforts at the school level to place highly qualified teachers in the subject areas of their certification and highly qualified status. This has increased the number of Charles County Public Schools' classes that are being taught by highly qualified teachers," said Keith Hettel, CCPS assistant superintendent of human resources.

Teachers are deemed as highly qualified if they meet minimum requirements outlined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), enacted in 2002. The law requires teachers in core academic subject areas to be highly qualified in the subject area they teach.

Highly qualified teachers must have a bachelor's degree and full state certification, and be able to demonstrate content knowledge in their teaching subject area. These subjects are English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history and geography.

Highly qualified statistics reported by MSDE only include figures for teachers who teach core academic subject areas as defined by NCLB and do not reflect the percentage of teachers who are highly qualified, but are teaching in subject areas not considered core academic subject areas.

NCLB also requires that teachers newly hired in Title I schools be highly qualified, as they are partially paid with federal funds. Title I is a federal education program that provides services to at-risk students in high poverty elementary schools.

Classrooms not taught by highly qualified teachers are taught by teachers who are teaching outside of their certification subject areas or teachers with conditional certificates who are working toward full certification.

Teachers must meet certification requirements at the end of their conditional period. Conditional certificates are valid for two years and are issued to teachers employed in school systems that are not fully certified, but are working toward full certification.

"Human resources is not renewing teaching contracts for staff that have not made progress toward finishing their certification requirements. These vacancies are filled with fully certificated teachers," Hettel said.

NCLB allows parents to request the qualifications of their children's teachers and any paraprofessional that has direct contact with the student. Parents can request this information by putting their request in writing to their child's school principal. For more information, contact Hettel at 301-934-7230.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Open Thread Sunday!

"Open Thread" is a place for you to tell me what you would like to see on this site. What can I do to make it more user-friendly, topics you would like to see discussed in the future, questions or concerns. If I missed your questions on another thread, please direct me to them here.

So here you go, give me your feedback.

Friday, October 10, 2008

REMINDER: Board Meeting, 10/14/08

Reminder... there is a Board Meeting Tuesday, October 14th. Can't can watch it live on Channel 96. It will also be re-broadcast on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.; Fridays at 9 a.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.

Executive session - 12 p.m.
Call to order - 1 p.m.

  • Pledge of Allegiance, Maurice J. McDonough High School's JROTC unit

REPORT - Superintendent's Update to the Board
REPORT - Board Member Updates (no report available)
REPORT - Education Association of Charles County Update
REPORT - Student Board Member Update
REPORT - Deputy Superintendent Update - School Recognitions (no report available)
REPORT - Finance Update - FY2008 Audit Presentation; Budget Update
REPORT - Supporting Service Update - CIP update
REPORT - Instruction Update - Student Service Learning; Powerpoint
REPORT - Instruction Update - Title I Parent Involvement Policy; CCPS Policy
REPORT - Instruction Update - Testing
REPORT - Instruction Update - New Health Curriculum - (Moved to November)
REPORT - Human Resources Update - Teacher Retention


NEW BUSINESS - Contract Award for Full-Day Kindergarten


RECOGNITION - 4:30 p.m. - October Recognitions

PUBLIC FORUM - 6 p.m. (Rules)

ACTION - Minutes September 9, 2008; Motions September 9; Minutes September 30, 2008
ACTION - Personnel
ACTION - FY 2009 Comprehensive Maintenance Plan

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Notes from Q & A, October 9, 2008

The Q & A session this evening turned out just as planned. I had envisioned a very informal session, no set agenda, no specific topic, no presentation, come as you are, drop in and out; just a meeting of parents sitting around discussing education and school issues...and that was exactly what we had. I was a little surprised to see Chairman Wade in attendance. In addition, Charles Carrington stopped by, the new education reporter from the Indy and six parents total in differing shifts.

Topics discussed

  • System-wide germ control such as hand washing or anti bacterial soap prior to lunch
  • System-wide recycling program
  • School lunches (this one was already on my list)
  • Nanjemoy Enviromental Center and the wonderful programs they offer
  • Procedures for out of zone requests for attendance
  • Policy submission procedures (Policy 8210)

I look forward to next month, November 13th. Please forward any requests for information you would like to bring with me. Thank you for your support and attendance.


Charles County Board of Education member Jennifer Abell will hold a question & answer session for interested residents the second Thursday of every month from 6:00-8:30 p.m. beginning October 9th at Unique Sports Academy, 109 Post Office Road, Waldorf.
Call Jennifer Abell 301-659-4112 or e-mail .

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Do you Believe?

Please watch this video. This little boy is speaking to 20,000 teachers, administrators, building service workers, etc in orientation in Dallas, Texas. He is definitely a future leader and this video actually gave me goosebumps. Let me know what you think.

Family Life Committee

I had the pleasure of attending the Charles County Public Schools Family Life Committee yesterday, as a parent. I had been invited to participate some time last spring. The discussion yesterday was on approving the new sex education unit in the Health curriculum for the 9th/11th grade use. I must say I was pleased with the outcome. The curriculum was unanimously approved with minor changes and still focuses on abstinence as the best method to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Sorry I don't have any links or electronic documents, yet...but the committee is suppose to be presenting it to the Board for approval in October/November.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Open Thread Sunday!

"Open Thread" is a place for you to tell me what you would like to see on this site. What can I do to make it more user-friendly, topics you would like to see discussed in the future, questions or concerns. If I missed your questions on another thread, please direct me to them here.

So here you go, give me your feedback.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

State looks at ways to train, retain more teachers

By Liz Bowie
7:21 PM EDT, October 2, 2008

Each year, more Maryland teachers retire or leave the classroom than emerge from the state's schools of education.

That needs to change, a Maryland task force said in a new report outlining 26 actions that should be taken in the next several years to produce more teachers from state colleges and to provide incentives for teachers to stay in classrooms.

Today, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents education committee recommended that the board begin taking action to get more qualified teachers into classrooms.

Some recommendations are likely to need substantial state funding or a shift in the policies of the Maryland State Department of Education, but most of the state's education leaders have endorsed them, said Patricia Florestano, a member of the regents and co-chairman of the task force.

Read more HERE

Friday, October 03, 2008

State report on Highly Qualified Teachers/Classes

Maryland State Department of Education has posted the latest information on classes being taught by Highly Qualified Teachers. CCPS has improved to 91% of our classes being taught by Highly Qualified teachers. The state average is 85%. For the last five years we have continued to improve in this area. Also in the area of teacher certification, we have 95% of our teachers highly qualified and holding valid Maryland Certificates. Five percent hold conditional certificates and are working to become Highly Qualified through course work and Praxis testing.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Dear Parents:

We have permanently disabled Parent@School. Charles County Public Schools does not plan to restore this program, as we are unable to resolve the multiple problems, including security issues, that it has presented this school year. We are reviewing other programs in order to offer you a similar service in the future.

Since the beginning of the school year, we have worked with the software provider, Timpanogos Technologies, to fix problems that on occasion blocked parents from seeing grades or allowed some parents to access information of a child who is not their own. Immediately upon learning of a security breach in mid-September, we took the system down.

Charles County Public Schools conducted two weeks of extensive reprogramming and testing, and launched the site again on Monday after our technology department and Timpanogos thought we had fixed the problems. We did not encounter any glitches during testing involving selected parents, including school system employees with children enrolled in our schools.

On Monday evening after a successful afternoon, we discovered the same problems were occurring, and we immediately took the program off line. Despite our technology staff working with Timpanogos, we are unable to pinpoint the source of the problem, which occurs sporadically.

When Parent@School works, it works well. We understand the frustration of parents who have grown accustomed to using the program. We share that frustration because we think the use of technology can be a great communication tool for parents and teachers to use.

However, as a school system we must safeguard the security of student information, and we no longer have confidence that we are able to do so with Parent@School. We are sorry for the inconvenience, and we are working to provide an alternative.


James E. Richmond
Superintendent of Schools

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Economy Squeezes Education Budget

Washington Times
by Gary Emerling

School districts across the region are preparing to cut most nonessential classrooms needs - from bus routes to class trips - as a result of budget deficits created by the troubled national economy.
Parents in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County, like others across the country, are again this year being asked to provide schools with staples such as soap and tissue paper.

Read more HERE