Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Comcast and MSDE announce fourth annual parent award

Comcast and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) are sponsoring the fourth annual Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award (PIMA) program. The annual award recognizes parents and guardians whose contributions have led to improvements in Maryland public schools.

The program was created to highlight the positive impact parents have on public schools and to encourage parent involvement. Parents and guardians can be nominated for demonstrating significant, positive impact on public education in their communities.

Nominees must be a parent/legal guardian of a child in a Maryland public school, and a consistent advocate of public education. Nominees must have also demonstrated involvement in one of the five following areas within the last 24 months: communications; volunteering; learning; decision marking; and/or community collaboration.

Nominations must include three letters of recommendation, a two-page narrative essay describing the nominee's contribution to public education and completed nomination forms.

Nomination forms are available on MSDE's Web site at www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/pima/. Nomination packets must be postmarked by Wednesday, Jan. 19, and should be sent to: Maryland State Department of Education, Office of Academic Policy, 7th Floor, Attention: PIMA, 200 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD, 21201. Incomplete applications will not be considered and submissions will not be accepted online or by e-mail.

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,858 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hiding exams from students

Class Struggle
by Jay Mathews
The Washington Post
November 18, 2010

The parent at McLean High School was frustrated. Two years ago he had to go to the principal to force a teacher to let his daughter keep a copy of a graded test so she could get a better sense of her errors. Last month, it happened again with his son.

“My son no longer gets any exams returned, and in some cases, classes aren’t allowed to even view their exams,” he said in an Oct. 8 e-mail to the same principal, Deborah Jackson. “Using exams to learn where you erred and to prepare for future exams is a time-honored part of the learning process. My son’s math tutor (a teacher in another school) asked for a copy of a recent exam he had taken and when told that exams were no longer being returned, said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. How do they defend doing that?’ ”

As Jackson said in an interview, rules don’t require that exams go home, but that is her policy and she is enforcing it. She has gone to each teacher involved in the complaint (most of whom said they did not withhold any tests) and has notified the entire faculty.

Yet, that is not the end of it. Jackson said she doesn’t have final say on the handling of all exams. There are signs that keeping exams from students might become more prevalent, not less, in Fairfax County and other districts.

Read more HERE.

Fairfax school experiments with letting cheaters retake tests

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 17, 2010; 10:34 PM

The Fairfax County high school that asked teachers to all but banish F's from its recent report cards has been experimenting with an approach that would allow students caught cheating to retake tests instead of receiving zeros.

West Potomac High School Principal Cliff Hardison last month instructed teachers to allow cheaters to retake tests. The idea was that cheating should "result in a disciplinary consequence separate from an academic consequence," Hardison said in a Nov. 5 e-mail to teachers.

Later, after complaints from parents and teachers, he reverted to the old policy of using zeros but also gave teachers the option of offering retakes, according to the Nov. 5 e-mail. It said that individual departments would be discussing the issue as the school makes broader changes this year to its grading system.

Read more HERE.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

At West Potomac High School, taking F off the grade books

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 14, 2010; 12:04 AM

Depending on whom you ask, West Potomac High School's latest change to student grading is either another sign of a coddled generation or a necessary step to help struggling kids.

The dreaded F has been all but banished from the grade books.

The report cards that arrived home late last week showed few failing grades but instead marks of "I" for incomplete, indicating that students still owe their teachers essential work. They will get Fs only if they fail to complete assignments and learn the content in the months to come.

Read more HERE.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Proficiency of Black Students Is Found to Be Far Lower Than Expected

The New York Times
Published: November 9, 2010

An achievement gap separating black from white students has long been documented — a social divide extremely vexing to policy makers and the target of one blast of school reform after another.

But a new report focusing on black males suggests that the picture is even bleaker than generally known.

Only 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38 percent of white boys, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white boys.

Poverty alone does not seem to explain the differences: poor white boys do just as well as African-American boys who do not live in poverty, measured by whether they qualify for subsidized school lunches.

The data was distilled from highly respected national math and reading tests, known as the National Assessment for Educational Progress, which are given to students in fourth and eighth grades, most recently in 2009. The report, “A Call for Change,” is to be released Tuesday by the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for urban public schools.

Read more HERE

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Efforts to End Bullying, Some See Agenda

The New York Times
Published: November 6, 2010

HELENA, Mont. — Alarmed by evidence that gay and lesbian students are common victims of schoolyard bullies, many school districts are bolstering their antiharassment rules with early lessons in tolerance, explaining that some children have “two moms” or will grow up to love members of the same sex.

But such efforts to teach acceptance of homosexuality, which have gained urgency after several well-publicized suicides by gay teenagers, are provoking new culture wars in some communities.

Many educators and rights advocates say that official prohibitions of slurs and taunts are most effective when combined with frank discussions, from kindergarten on, about diverse families and sexuality.

Angry parents and religious critics, while agreeing that schoolyard harassment should be stopped, charge that liberals and gay rights groups are using the antibullying banner to pursue a hidden “homosexual agenda,” implicitly endorsing, for example, same-sex marriage.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Notes from Board of Education Meeting, 11/9/10

The Board Meeting on Tuesday, November 9th will be re-broadcast on Comcast Channel 96, Verizon FIOS Channel 12 and is available via webstream at http://www.ccboe.com/ . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.

The below notes are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the Board of Education meetings and are provided as a request from my supporters and the general public in a personal effort to be more transparent. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as unbiased and accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes.

Executive session 12 p.m.

Call to order 1 p.m.

Pledge of Allegiance, Henry E. Lackey High School's JROTC unit

Correspondence/board member updates

  • Wise - Adult Graduation; FEA Induction; Emannuel Bakare appointed to the Student Youth Advisory Council
Education Association of Charles County update - See Report

Student board member update - See Report

Enrollment update -
  • Cunningham - 26,852 slightly up from last year; 55.2% African American, 36.3% White, 3.8% Hispanic, 3.7% Asian, 1% American Indian; 3,017 first time enrolled in CCPS. Additional statistics can be found in the report
  • Abell - how many are seniors? 1st time enrolled? HSA's? 47
  • Wise - Graduation rate process
CIP update - See Report

Race to the Top Grant - See Report

Autism Education Update - Charles County autism program at Matula Elementary for Pre-K and K; MIT = Multiple Intensity Teaching. 6 children currently enrolled; Later integrated into inclusion program; Hope to expand program to middle and high school in the future.

CCPS Environmental Education program - See Report

Board policy 4610 - See Report

Budget update - See Report

2011 Legislative issues packet - See Report

Unfinished business - None

New business - Noe

Future agenda items - None

Recognition - 4:30 p.m.

  • Students
  • Employees
  • Maryland Association of Secondary Principals Award: Rick Conley, vice principal, Henry E. Lackey High School
  • American Cancer Society Awards: 100 percent school participation award for 2009-10; 2009-10 Superintendent of the Year award: James E. Richmond
Public Forum - 6 p.m.
  • Alan Jackson - American Freedom Week curriculum; against tasers & firearms in the school but if they are accepted, what is the educational content.
Action Items
  • Minutes
Motion by Cook; Second by Pedersen
  • Personnel
Motion by Pedersen; Second by Cook

Superintendent's update to the Board
- See Report


Fighting Bullying with Babies

The New York Times
November 8, 2010, 8:10 pm

Imagine there was a cure for meanness. Well, maybe there is.

Lately, the issue of bullying has been in the news, sparked by the suicide of Tyler Clementi, a gay college student who was a victim of cyber-bullying, and by a widely circulated New York Times article that focused on “mean girl” bullying in kindergarten. The federal government has identified bullying as a national problem. In August, it organized the first-ever “Bullying Prevention Summit,” and it is now rolling out an anti-bullying campaign aimed at 5- to 8-year old children. This past month the Department of Education released a guidance letter to schools, colleges and universities to take bullying seriously, or face potential legal consequences.

The typical institutional response to bullying is to get tough. In the Tyler Clementi case, prosecutors are considering bringing hate-crime charges. But programs like the one I want to discuss today show the potential of augmenting our innate impulses to care for one another instead of just falling back on punishment as a deterrent. And what’s the secret formula? A baby.

Read more HERE.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

(Frederick County) School system enacts rules against 'sexting'

Thursday, November 4, 2010
Margarita Raycheva | Staff Writer

Growing trend of sending racy messages leads educators to include the term ‘sexting' in disciplinary guidelines for students, alongside gang activity and physical assault

Ask a parent about sexting and you may get a blank stare. But most Frederick County teens will know exactly what you are talking about.

Sexting, which is the act of sending nude or partially nude photos by cell phone, is becoming a popular habit of camera-phone equipped teens nationwide and Frederick County is not an exception.

"I noticed it in middle school when kids started getting cell phones," said Sarah Hauver, 17.

The Walkersville High School senior, who recently gave up Facebook for more face time with her friends, says she has never sent out such a message, but she is familiar with the trend and knows at least one person who has sent one.

When she was in ninth grade, two girls at her school got in trouble for sending out provocative videos and images of themselves via phone message, she said. The images were only meant for specific boys, but ended up getting leaked to dozens of other students, causing a major embarrassment, Sarah said.

"It got around really fast," she said.

The trend is a growing concern for educators in Frederick County, leading them for the first time this year to include the term "sexting" in disciplinary guidelines for students, alongside gang activity and physical assault.

Sexting now is a separate violation within Frederick County Public Schools' bullying regulations and, depending on the scale of the offense, the punishment for students who send these messages ranges from suspension and a parent conference to expulsion. Schools can also report offenders to law enforcement if they suspect a violation of criminal law, according to Ann Bonitatibus, the school system's associate superintendent for secondary schools.

"As the technology evolves, we have to keep up with it," she said. "And (sexting) impacts school environment."

Read more HERE.

How to evaluate students...look at their work

Washington Post
By Monty Neill

In June, I outlined a school evaluation system to replace No Child Left Behind’s test-only accountability structure. I then described in more detail how each component would work: first school quality reviews, then annual state tests in a few grades, and now local assessments. Together, these interrelated elements provide comprehensive evidence of school progress, as well as richer information for teaching and school improvement efforts.
The best way to find out what students know and can do is to look at their actual work. In a local assessment system, teachers document student products and processes. Research projects, oral presentations, essays, problem solving using computers, and science experiments allow evaluation of higher order thinking skills and deep content knowledge that standardized tests cannot measure.
What is standardized in this system is not individual student work but the criteria for gathering and evaluating work products. With a clear structure, the work assessed can vary: what books students read, the specific choices of what to emphasize in history or biology or math, the extended projects students undertake, etc. Strong structures already exist, including the Learning Record and the Work Sampling System. Other countries have developed various approaches to this issue.

Read more HERE

Friday, November 05, 2010

Teens are still reading for fun, say media specialists

By Donna St. George
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 31, 2010; 10:44 PM

Teens read for pleasure, even in the digital age.

That's how it looks here in a Rockville library, where 14-year-old Olivia Smith is propped in a comfy chair, deep into a Japanese novel genre called manga. She has already been reading on the computer for an hour, and later, when she texts her friends, she will still be turning pages between messages. "I'm sort of a bookworm," she says.

Recreational reading has changed for teens in an era of ebooks and laptops and hours spent online, but experts and media specialists say there are signs of promise in spite of busy lives and research findings that show traditional book reading is down.

"It's not that they're reading less; they're reading in a different way," says Kim Patton, president of the Young Adult Library Services Association.

Read more HERE

Thursday, November 04, 2010

President Obama: It Gets Better

Ed.gov blog
U.S. Department of Education
October 25,2010

THIS LINK is President Obama's video message, "It Gets Better." There is a link to a transcript of the President's video at the bottom of the page, and links to information on anti-bullying organizations.

Will New Ed Policy Affect All Districts Equally?

Washington Post
From Anne Geiger on the fallout from the midterm elections and the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives:

The good news and the bad news.

First, some important data...

As this table and this table show, there are 47.7 million students enrolled in public schools and 14,229 school districts in the U.S. Just over 13% (1,883) enroll 67% of all students (32 million students).

Among this 13% are the school districts of our major cities, such as Washington D.C, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Houston. Member districts of the Council of the Great City Schools (I served on the council’s board while on the Orange County (FL) School Board), a member organization of the 65 largest, serve over 7 million students.

Their students are 75% non-white, 60% low-income, 15% English language learners, and 12% special-needs. (Twenty-five of these districts serve over 100,000 students each. Their enrollments total 12% of students overall).

The remaining 12,346 school districts serving the remaining 33% of students (15.7 million students) have enrollments under 5,000. Over 6,000 (about half) of these have enrollments under 800.

Read more HERE

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

REMINDER: Board of Education Meeting, 11/9/10

The Board of Education's next monthly meeting is Tuesday, Nov. 9, at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 1 p.m., and recognition begins at 4:30 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12, and is rebroadcast throughout the week. Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system Web site at http://www.ccboe.com/.

Executive session 12 p.m.

Call to order 1 p.m.

Pledge of Allegiance, Henry E. Lackey High School's JROTC unit

Superintendent's update to the Board

Reports of officers/boards/committees

Correspondence/board member updates

Education Association of Charles County update

Student board member update

Enrollment update

CIP update

Race to the Top grant

CCPS Environmental Education program

Board policy 4610

Budget update

2011 Legislative issues packet

Unfinished business

New business

Future agenda items

Recognition - 4:30 p.m.

  • Students
  • Employees
  • Maryland Association of Secondary Principals Award: Rick Conley, vice principal, Henry E. Lackey High School
  • American Cancer Society Awards: 100 percent school participation award for 2009-10; 2009-10 Superintendent of the Year award: James E. Richmond
Public Forum - 6 p.m.

Action Items
  • Minutes
  • Personnel