Schools Determine Which Student Assessments to Implement

School boards across the state are deciding how to implement a state law passed in 2013 that requires all 11th graders be tested for college readiness in English language arts, literacy and mathematics, according to the Maryland Reporter.

The State Board has granted some flexibility regarding which tests may be used for the assessments, as described,

They face a choice of whether to add two Common Core-aligned tests to assess college and career readiness, or use scores from one of several already established college entrance exams like the SAT. It’s also possible students who take a college placement exam could be exempt from taking PARCC in school systems who elect to use it.

For more information, read the whole story from the Maryland Reporter and our previous posts on Conduit Street: State Gives School Boards Flexibility In Administering Student AssessmentsOpinion Piece Predicts Maryland Governor Will Continue Common CoreState Board Approves 2-Year Delay in Using the New Student Assessment as Graduation Requirement.

Supreme Court Will Hear Nonmember Union Fee Case

On June 30 the Supreme Court granted certiorari, agreeing to hear a case challenging the right of government worker unions to collect fees from nonmembers, as reported by the Baltimore Sun. The case is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

According to the Sun, in Maryland, the union that represents state government employees brings in $2.75 million annually in fees from nonmembers. However, the nonmember fees are controversial,

Opponents of such fees say they violate the First Amendment by forcing government workers to subsidize unions they do not want to join. The argument could have a receptive audience among the court’s conservative members, who have openly questioned the precedent the court set four decades ago allowing the fees.

According to SCOTUSblog, the case will be decided in the Court’s new Term, which opens in October.  The case is likely to come up for a hearing in December or January.

For more information, read the full story from the Baltimore Sun and coverage on SCOTUSblog.

Opinion Piece Encourages Broad Reform in Baltimore’s K-12 Education

An opinion piece in the Baltimore Sun encourages systemic change in Baltimore City’s schools. The piece was written by Donald Manekin, who served as the invited interim chief operating officer for the Baltimore City Public School System between September 2000 and August 2002 and convened the group of civic leaders asked to review the school system’s master plan in 2000.

The author notes the lag of progress in the schools since 2000, and asks for broad-based changes to help bolster the City,

Eddie Brown, Wes Moore, and Freeman Hrabowski, and countless other civic and social-change leaders know and have said that a student’s journey through school, beginning at pre-K, must fully prepare him or her for the workforce of the 21st century or post-secondary education. Repeatedly, we have heard from Baltimore’s children and adults in the aftermath of the Freddie Gray shooting that they want and need an education that creates positive possibilities.

If we want return on our education investment — public schools where all students have all the resources to prepare them for success in school and in life — change must not be incremental but systemic. Thinking and acting must be bold, broad and creative.

For more information, see the full story in the Sun.

Two Maryland High Schools Attain 100% College Acceptance Goal

One measure of success of our K-12 education system is the rate of college acceptance of graduating seniors. Two Maryland high schools (New Town and Dulaney) recently reached the ambitious goal set by their Administrator to attain a 100% college acceptance rate among graduating seniors, as reported by the Baltimore Sun.

According to the Maryland State Department of Education, 70% of Maryland students are enrolled in college 16 months after their graduation. This does not reveal, however, how many were accepted to college upon graduation. And, at New Town and Dulaney, not all of the students accepted to college plan to attend, according to the Sun. Assistant Principal Murray discusses the program’s broader aim with the Baltimore Sun,

“If we as educators, and a school system, truly want students to be college- and career-ready, then we should work to assist students to at least be accepted to college by the time they graduate so that they have the option available to them,” he said.

For more information, see the full story from the Baltimore Sun.

The Maryland State Department of Education and Maryland’s Community Colleges are currently working to improve student readiness for colleges and careers through new apprenticeship programs. You can learn more about these programs at MACo’s Summer Conference, where we will host a Saturday morning session with Maryland State Department of Education Secretary Lowery and others dedicated to the topic.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

For a schedule of educational sessions at MACo’s Summer Conference, please view the Registration Brochure.

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

High School Capacity Issues Could Halt White Flint Redevelopment Projects

A June 19, 2015, Bethesda Magazine article reported that enrollment capacity projections for Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda may trigger a development moratorium and jeopardize two projects in the White Flint area. According to the article, the school is projected to reach 119.8 percent of its capacity within 5 years.  If capacity exceeds 120 percent, an adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO) requires all new residential development in the school’s cluster area to stop.

Properly implemented, APFOs serve as an important warning mechanism when growth in a particular area exceeds the capacity of local infrastructure (schools, public safety, water and sewer, roads, etc.) to handle incoming population.  MACo has supported the ability of a county to enact APFOs that serve to slow or halt growth until the infrastructure needs have been addressed.  Critics of APFOs argue that they sometimes end up serving as a permanent ban on development in a region. MACo does not support APFOs acting as a permanent ban but there is currently no funding mechanism at the State or federal level to address expensive infrastructure upgrades that exceed the ability of a county or municipality to budget for.

From the article:

While no school clusters in this year’s schools test are projected to surpass the moratorium mark in the next five years, county Planning Department staff cautioned that Walter Johnson— located at 6400 Rock Spring Drive—is projected to get close.

Developer Saul Centers’ plan for high-rise apartments along Rockville Pike near the White Flint Metro station could be affected. …

East Village at North Bethesda, a joint development project between Promark and Foulger-Pratt just north of White Flint Mall, could also be impacted.

Planning staff warned that the 614-unit, multi-family development might have to go forward in pieces.

“The Planning Board could approve only that part of East Village for which there is sufficient capacity [in the schools], leaving the remainder of the project in the queue until additional capacity becomes available, but this is not desirable,” Planning Department staff wrote.

The article noted that Montgomery County planning staff are set to review the capacity standards later this summer.

Carroll Considering Waiving College Tuition Fees for Children of County Staff, Teachers

According to a Carroll County Times article, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners and school officials are considering waiving college tuition fees for children of county staff and teachers at Carroll Community College.

The article states,

Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, introduced the proposal at a June 10 joint meeting between the commissioners and the school board as a way to attract and retain teachers in Carroll. Frazier again brought up the idea at the community college’s board of trustees meeting on June 17.

“My idea is anyone who works for Carroll County should be able to send their kids to Carroll Community College for free. If we can start with teachers, we could eventually offer free tuition to county employees,” said Frazier, an ex-officio member of the community college board.

As of now, the proposal doesn’t include free tuition for employees or spouses — just children, Frazier said.

Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie said he believes free tuition would be a good incentive for any school system employee.

To read the full article, visit Carroll County Times online.

State Gives School Boards Flexibility In Administering Student Assessments

As reported by WBAL, local school systems are able to offer the PARCC student assessment test in many forms and in two subjects thanks to a change made by the State Board of Education. PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) is the student assessment connected to the Common Core standards.

WBAL reports,

“We have worked collaboratively with the districts. We hear them, and as long as they can demonstrate that their children are ready for college and career, we believe they should have the local option as to how they can do that,” Maryland State Superintendent Lillian Lowery said.

This fall, school districts will have the option of offering students PARCC English 9, English 11, geometry and PARCC algebra 2. The changes are likely to get high marks from high school students who welcome testing flexibility.

For more information, read the whole story from WBAL.

Secretary Lillian Lowery will be speaking at MACo’s Summer Conference at the Saturday August 15, 2015.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

For a schedule of educational sessions at MACo’s Summer Conference, please view the Registration Brochure.

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

Regional Technology Communities Come Together, Following Augustine Commission Recommendation

As reported in Business Wire, the Tech Council of Maryland (TCM) and Betamore are joining forces to unify the technology communities in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore metropolitan areas, and throughout Maryland.

The two organizations today announced a comprehensive partnership with the goal of creating a more vibrant business environment for Maryland’s technology and life science companies. The alliance will focus on enhancing statewide advocacy efforts, developing joint educational events to bring together established and early-stage businesses from both organizations and markets, and giving members of both groups new opportunities to network and build business relationships.

As described in the article, the partnership was a recommendation made by Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission, known as the “Augustine Commission,” which stated in its February 2015 interim report that, “there are natural strengths that the Washington and Baltimore regions of the state can capitalize on together in order to benefit the state as a whole.”

At MACo’s summer conference, we will be delving deeper into the theme of economic development in Maryland and the county role in nurturing Maryland tech companies and readying Maryland’s tech workforce. In Saturday’s Education Session, Vennard Wright, Montgomery County’s CIO will be sharing case studies and models of career pipelines that have been made possible through partnerships between government, school systems, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations and private industry will be examined for discussion around ideas that could be potentially replicated statewide.

The focus of his remarks will be on the development of an IT focused career pipeline and interceptive strategies to improve student matriculation and eventual career success in technology related fields, with the goal of the program being to identify and develop students who have demonstrated a sustained aptitude and interest in IT and to cultivate their educational and career growth so that they become future contributors to the economic success and competitive viability of our state.

For more information, see the whole story from Business Wire.

Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference:

For a schedule of educational sessions at MACo’s Summer Conference, please view the Registration Brochure.

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.

MACo Wins Regulatory Reprieve for County Rec Camps

The Maryland State Department of Education will be withdrawing its proposed change to the definition of child care in new regulations, and returning to original language in the final regulation. MACo and its affiliate, the Maryland Association of County Parks and Recreation Administrators (MACPRA) raised concerns with the effect of proposed changes on parks and recreation programs for school-age youth. The original language stated that school-age recreational and supplementary education programs operated by a local department of recreation and parks, law enforcement agency, or a public or nonpublic school, are not considered child care, if the primary purpose of the program is not custodial care. Parks and recreations departments offer many free and low-cost after school and before school programs to children, including sports programs and arts education.

MACo raised concerns of county governments in formal comments to the proposed action in April, stating,

Several Maryland county parks and recreation departments operate programs for school-age children, and others have an interest in starting them. MACo would like to ensure that your proposed action, which alters the definitions of child care and child care centers, considers our shared interest in providing opportunities for Maryland’s school-age youth.

The Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review requested a hold on the regulations based on county government concerns and in May, MACo Policy Staff and County Parks and Recreation Directors met with the Director of the Office of Childcare, The Chief of Child Care Licensing, and the Maryland State Department of Education’s Director of Education Policy and Government Relations and Assistant Attorney General in Baltimore. Through the discussion, MACo and recreation and parks representatives gained an understanding of current challenges in licensing for-profit child care providers, and shared concerns regarding the effect of the proposed change on the many county-sponsored before school and after school programs. MSDE noted in the discussion that it was not the Department’s  intent to require recreation and parks programs where custodial was not being provided to be licensed but to provide clarity since some departments read the current regulation as a complete exemption from licensing even if custodial care was being provided.  MSDE provided information during the discussion that 179 recreation and parks department programs across the state are currently licensed because they provide custodial care to children.

This week, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) sent a letter to the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review requesting they lift the hold on the regulations, stating,

After a productive dialogue, MSDE, MACo, and the county recreation and parks departments have reached a resolution concerning the proposed regulation. MSDE has agreed to:

  • Reinstate the original language of the regulation, COMAR 13A.16.01.02B(14)(iii) that maintains the current exemption for recreation or supplementary education programs that do not provide custodial care for children, from the definition of childcare;
  • Issue guidance for county recreation and parks departments based on the current regulation so these departments can review the factors that the MSDE Office of Child Care – Licensing Branch considers when determining whether a recreation and parks program is providing custodial care; and
  • Work with MACo and the county recreation an dparks departments in teh future to discuss a possible regulatory language for recreation and parks programs, consistent with the childcare licensing statute, which may be proposed sometime in the future.

John R. Byrd, MACPRA President and Director of Howard County Recreation & Parks said in response to the withdraw of the new regulatory language,

This move marks a significant weight lifted off the shoulders of our county recreation and parks program directors. I welcome our continued collaboration with MACo and the Maryland State Department of Education.

MACo and MACPRA look forward to working with the Maryland State Department of Education on any needed updates to the regulation and continuing the county partnership in providing opportunities for Maryland’s school-age children.

For more information, read the proposed action of March 20, MACo’s Comments on Proposed Action on 13A.16.01 comment letter, MACo’s Letter to Secretary Lowery, and MSDE’s letter to the  Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive & Legislative Review, and contact MACPRA.

What Is In the Bipartisan Reauthorization of the U.S. Elementary and Secondary Education Act?

Education Week provides a primer on the elements of the bipartisan Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently before the U.S. Senate.

According to the article, among other things, the new version of the Act would:

  • Provide some flexibility on testing through a limited pilot program that allows states and school districts to develop innovative assessments;
  • Not include any provision allowing Title I dollars for low-income students to follow them to the school of their choice;
  • Specifically prohibit the federal government from pushing the Common Core State Standards;
  • Eliminate the No Child Left Behind Act waiver requirement that states develop and implement teacher-evaluation systems (though they could if they wanted);
  • List early-childhood education as an allowable use of funding for a broad swath of programs in the ESEA.

For more information, read the whole article from Education Week here.