Story Category: Local Schools »
Calvert Schools Plan for 'Third Wave'
Prince Frederick, MD - 8/7/2012
By Marty Madden
Calvert County Public Schools’ (CCPS) officials met with the press Monday, Aug. 6 to present an overview of state-mandated strategy for making students ready for higher education, closing achievement gaps among minority groups, and evaluating teachers and administrators. The initiative, dubbed “Maryland’s Third Wave of Educational Reform,” is part of the Free State’s commitment to the federal “No Child Left Behind” and its “Race to the Top” strategy.
Deputy Superintendent of Schools Robin Welsh said the plan impacts “performance and accountability.” Calvert will be adopting changes in curriculum, standards and instructional practice known as “common core state standards.” Welsh said the changes emphasize more rigorous classroom instruction and will “integrate several content areas. The common core state standards require students to demonstrate their understanding of the standard through analysis, problem solving, critical thinking, citing evidence to support their conclusions.”
Welsh said the changes will mean “less content will be covered in a given year and content will be covered at a greater depth. Teachers and students will be required to understand the content, not just know the content.”
The full implementation of the standards is planned for the 2014-2015 school year. A new method of assessing student performance will be implemented during that school year. The Maryland School Assessments will continue to be used as the student performance gauge during the two preceding school years.
Smith called the Maryland School Progress Index “a big change from No Child Left Behind.” The index would rank Maryland’s schools in five “strands." Diane Black, CCPS’ director of Instructional Support, said the ranking system is intended to “direct support and interventions to schools with similar needs.” However, the progress index creates “increased difficulty for high performing schools to meet the targets each year due to [a] baseline high level of achievement. The more kids we have at a high achievement value, the harder it’s going to be.”
Strand one--the highest rating a school can achieve—includes schools that usually meet or exceed the academic standards for all students. Schools rated among the state’s top 50 percent would be included in strand two and strand three would be similarly rated schools with increased intensity of needs. Strand four schools would be those with serious needs and strand five would be the lowest achieving schools in the state.
“We don’t believe we have any schools at strand five,” said Black.
The teacher evaluation component of the Third Wave looks at both an educator’s professional growth and the growth of students under the new standards.
“For our teachers it will be a major change,” said Smith.
“We don’t know how it’s going to play out,” said Smith, who added the initiative does change the long held philosophy that a public school systems’ objective was not to prepare every student for college after graduation.
“Citizens should know and understand how the schools are judged,” said the superintendent, who concluded that by reporting CCPS’ student performance information in the context of the new state requirements, “the information reported will be accurate and more meaningful to the public.”
More information about Maryland’s Third Wave of Educational Reform can be found at www.corestandards.org/ or at www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/esea_flex/
Contact Marty Madden at email@example.com
Comment On This Story!
Send This Story to a Friend!