National Study Highlights Anne Arundel County’s Public Safety-School Partnership

November 18, 2014

This fall, the Council of State Governments Justice Center presented a white paper on school discipline to the Maryland State Board of Education.  During the presentation, Emily Morgan, Senior Policy Analyst with the Justice Center, mentioned the need for partnerships between schools and  public safety, noting the Anne Arundel County as a leader in this area.

The School Discipline Consensus Report: Strategies from the Field to Keep Students Engaged in School and Out of the Juvenile Justice System states,

The Anne Arundel County Police Department is the fifth largest police department in Maryland, with approximately 660 sworn officers. Of these officers, 21 of them, along with two sergeants and one lieutenant, make up the School Resource Unit. Members of the SRO [School Resource Officer] unit are employees of the police department, which provides all salaries and training. The police department hosts a large central command whereby all SROs and county officers report to a single location to facilitate coordination, training, and information sharing. Given the decentralized nature of SRO work, having a central command provides opportunities for direct communications among officers and encourages peer supports.

The agency also has received recognition for its Speak Out software application for smart phones, which allows students to anonymously report incidents. Because of challenges in
convincing students of the anonymity provided, overlapping reporting systems are also promoted, such as a student safety hotline. Posters and materials with QR codes help students to reach out using the technology they are most comfortable with.

Many Maryland county governments provide school resource officers at their schools. According to data from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, County Sheriff’s Offices provide school resource officers in Calvert, Cecil, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Queen Anne’s, and Wicomico counties.  And county and/or city police provide school resource officers in Anne Arundel, Dorchester, Howard, Allegany, Caroline, St. Mary’s, Montgomery, Washington, Baltimore, and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore City.  There are about 302 school resource officers statewide and the majority of them are provided through police departments.

For more information, read the full report and these previous posts on Conduit Street, Montgomery Posts School Resources Officers at Every High SchoolBaltimore County Begins $9.8M School Security Expansion and the fiscal and policy notes from SB807 (2013) and HB20 (2014).

These additional white papers of the Council might also be of interest to county governments:

New Student Assessments Are Accompanied by Bigger Questions

November 17, 2014

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, just as public school systems in Maryland and other states prepare to give longer and more challenging standardized tests this spring, a national debate has erupted over just how many hours students should be tested in a year.  As reported in the article,

“I think what you are seeing across the country is this backlash against state testing,” said Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance, who believes there may be moves in coming years to reduce federally mandated testing.

This year, an eighth-grader in the Baltimore area will spend from 14 to 46 hours taking tests, depending on which school district he or she is in. And that doesn’t include the tests teachers write and grade themselves — that pop quiz on “The Scarlet Letter” in English or fractions in an elementary school math class.

A recent study by The Center for American Progress, Testing Overload in America’s Schools, found the following:

  • Despite the perception that federally mandated state testing is the root of the issue, districts require more tests than states.
  • Students are tested as frequently as twice per month and an average of once per month.
  • Actual test administration takes up a small fraction of learning time.
  • There is a culture of testing and test preparation in schools that does not put students first.
  • District-level testing occurs more frequently and takes up more learning time in urban districts than in suburban districts.
  • Districts are not transparent about testing practices or purposes.

For more information, see the full story from the Sun and The Center for American Progress.

Boards of Education Comment on Draft College & Career Readiness Standards Implementation Recommendations

November 14, 2014

Estimates for the cost of technology need to fully implement new student assessments to accompany the Common Core standard have been as high as $100 million. The Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE) recently submitted comments to the draft recommendations of The Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards (MCCRS) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Implementation Review Workgroup. MABE’s submission includes comments on the Workgroup’s responsibility to report on school technology needs and to request state funding for technology needs associated with the new assessment.

In response to the Group’s charge to “assess the technological readiness and the needs of the public schools for the implementation of the PARCC assessments, including what resources will be needed to teach students the necessary computer skills to take the PARCC assessments,”

MABE requests that the State Workgroup fulfill this charge by assessing both MSDE and local school system technological readiness for administration of the PARCC assessments.  This assessment should include references and links to existing statewide surveys and RTTT [Race to the Top] updates and reports which contain much detailed information on the issues and challenges to achieve technological readiness, and what resources and investments will be needed.

With regard the the Group’s charge to “recommend a plan to meet the technological infrastructure needs of public schools related to the implementation of the PARCC assessments,

MABE. . . requests that the State Workgroup recommend the development of a statewide plan, and reference other related procurement and planning initiatives.  For example, the Workgroup should reference the assessment of broadband capacity which is being conducted under a separate legislative mandate; and the Workgroup should reference the investments already made by local school systems, and identify remaining unmet needs.

In addition, MABE supports a Workgroup recommendation for a stand-alone state funding initiative to support local technological infrastructure and hardware investments; toward the goal of ensuring a level playing field of equitable access of all students to comparable educational technologies.  MABE requests that this request reference the initiatives in recent years to provide $25 million for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) projects; and to provide $25 million for school safety and security related upgrades.

For more information, see all of MABE’s comments on the recommendations,  additional documents from the Workgroup meeting and our previous posts, Workgroup Discusses Common Core Implementation in Maryland, and Maryland’s Common Core Implementation Work Group Reviews Draft Recommendations.

Baltimore City School Board Considers School Modernization Proposal

November 13, 2014

In the 2013 legislative session, the General Assembly passed HB860 allocating $20 million in annual State lottery proceeds, $20 million in annual Baltimore City Public Schools revenues and $20 million in annual Baltimore City revenues to support a multiyear, $1.1 billion public school construction and renovation initiative in Baltimore City. As reported in the Baltimore Sun, the City is now considering how to best use the funding to modernize its school facilities.  As described by the Sun, this past Tuesday,

School administrators showed the school board a consolidation plan that would relocate several small schools and adjust the grade spans at others. . .

“Baltimore schools are growing, which is a great sign for our city,” [Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake] said in a statement. “My priority is to work in partnership to secure the resources necessary that can build the schools parents want to send their children to, which is why I fought so hard for school construction funds.”

According to the Sun, the school board is scheduled to vote December 17th on whether to adopt the plan.

For more information, see the full story from the Baltimore Sun, the Maryland Stadium Authority, the Baltimore City School Board, and our previous post, House Supports Baltimore City School Funding.

Maryland Applies for Federal Preschool Expansion Grant

November 7, 2014

According to the US Department of Education, 35 states and Puerto Rico have applied for grants under the $250 million Preschool Development Grants program.

Over 25 high-need communities in 12-15 states will benefit from program funding by significantly expanding their preschool programs so that a large portion of their at-risk four-year-olds start school prepared.  States with either small (currently serve less than 10% of four-year-olds) or no state-funded preschool programs are eligible for Development Grants, while states with more robust (currently serve at least 10% of four-year-olds) state-funded preschool programs or a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant are eligible for Expansion Grants.  Preschool programs funded under either category will need to meet the program’s criteria for high-quality.

Maryland has applied for an Expansion Grant.  Awards will be announced on December 10 at a White House Summit on Early Education.

For more information on pre-K expansion in Maryland, see our previous post, Joint Committee on Children, Youth, and Families Reviews Pre-K Expansion Funding.

Maryland State Board of Education Decision on High School Graduation Requirements

November 4, 2014

The State Board of Education recently released the minutes from the October 28 State Board of Education Meeting, documenting that the State Board will allow the State Superintendent to draft amendments to the regulations for High School Graduation which would provide that all students who take the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers tests in Algebra I and English 10 in years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 will not be required to pass the tests in order to graduate high school.

For more information, see our previous post State Board Approves 2-Year Delay in Using the New Student Assessment as Graduation Requirement, and State changes graduation requirements for high school students in the Capital Gazette.

The Arguments For Dual Enrollment Programs in High School Senior Year

October 30, 2014

An opinion piece in Vox argues that more schools should turn senior year into a high school-college hybrid dedicated to helping students make the jump to higher education.  As described,

While still technically enrolled in high school, students could start earning their first college credits through local community colleges or public universities. . . . For the high achievers headed to selective colleges, it would offer a chance to earn free credits. For regular students — the vast majority of college-bound seniors — making senior year of high school also stand in for freshman year of college could close gaps between K-12 and higher education, making the education system more cooperative and more efficient.

In Maryland, dual enrollment programs between community colleges and local high schools are already taking this step.  As reported by the Maryland Association of Community Colleges,

Maryland’s 16 community colleges provide an abundance of outstanding dual enrollment programs for high school students, giving them the opportunity to accelerate their pursuit of a college degree or certificate. Each semester, 4,000+ Maryland high school students attend a community college to earn college credit while still in high school.

For more information, including profiles of students in dual enrollment programs, see the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.


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