> Race to the Top
> Race to the Top - Updates
Race to the Top - Updates
HCPSS Finance Department will respond to minor technical questions about the system’s proposed budget and the document will be forwarded to the U.S. Department of Education by November 22.
HCPSS’ RTTT Targets
On October 26, the District Planning Team of the Howard County Public School System adopted the following targets for the decade of reform that the school system is initiating using Race to the Top funds:
By 2020 -
- One hundred percent of students are proficient in English/language arts and mathematics.
- Ninety-five percent of students in each student group graduate from HCPSS high schools, college and career ready.
Standards and Assessment
In June 2010, the Maryland State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English/Language Arts and Mathematics. During August and September, the state completed a gap analysis matching the current state curriculum and the CCSS using the Achieve Common Core Comparison Tool. The strength of the matches is categorized as excellent, good or weak.
An executive summary of the gap analysis reveals that 88% of the Common Core mathematics standards matched Maryland mathematics standards; there are 495 Common Core mathematics standards. Twelve percent of the Common Core mathematics standards had no match to Maryland mathematics standards.
The same executive summary indicates that 89% of the Common Core English/Language Arts standards matched Maryland standards; there are 1,019 Common Core English/Language Arts standards, including standards for literacy in History, Science, and Technical Subjects.
During October and November, MSDE has been soliciting the names of teachers and curriculum staff from all 24 school systems in Maryland to assist with the work of transforming the current Maryland State Curriculum into Maryland’s Common Core State Curriculum. HCPSS has submitted staff members’ names for each work group that MSDE has identified. Although HCPSS staff may not be called upon to assist with every task, the system’s goal is to be well represented in the groups that will develop the new state curriculum.
Data Systems to Support Instruction
The centerpiece of Maryland’s reform initiative is the development of 21st century tools to support teaching and learning. The MSDE is developing an online toolkit, the Instructional Improvement System, to house student data, lesson plans, teacher resources, and student resources. The focus is on using open content that can be freely shared among all Maryland school districts. The HCPSS has agreed to work collaboratively with MSDE to assess and address technology gaps that could inhibit the successful implementation and use of the online toolkit by classroom teachers and administrators. This assessment will include an evaluation of the HCPSS’s bandwidth capabilities, computer accessibility to all potential HCPSS users, hardware/software requirements, and any other peripheral equipment needs based on the architecture of the MSDE systems.
Great Teachers and Leaders
A Maryland legislative committee voted to reject a revision to COMAR requiring that half of teachers’ evaluations be based on student growth. State law requires student growth to be a “significant” factor in teacher evaluations, but limits any one criterion to 35%. The regulations adopted by the Maryland Board of Education indicated that 30% would be based on standardized test scores and 20% would be based on locally determined measures of student progress. The legislative committee indicated that the total of 50% of teacher evaluations being based on student growth violated the law. The Maryland Board of Education must now decide how to revise the regulations or how to resolve the disagreement with the Maryland legislature.
In June, Governor O’Malley issued an Executive Order that established the Maryland Council for Educator Effectiveness. The Council will develop recommendations that will help shape Maryland’s teacher and administrator evaluation systems. The Council is co-chaired by Dr. Nancy Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools, and Elizabeth Weller, Vice President of the Maryland State Education Association. The Council held its first meeting in August and had subsequent meetings in September, October, and on November 1, 2010. The Council’s next meeting is scheduled for November 29, 2010 from 9:00 am to noon in Annapolis. Two HCPSS educators serve on the Council; namely, Maleeta Kitchen, teacher at Running Brook Elementary School and David Burton, principal of Long Reach High School.
To provide educators with the professional development they will need to understand and implement new curriculum, MSDE will be sponsoring two types of academies during the summer of 2011. The first is a five-day academy that is modeled on the highly successful Governor’s Academies. The purpose of the Instructional Improvement Academy will be to introduce three teachers and one administrator from every public school in Maryland to the new Common Core State Curriculum. This regional academy will be held in seven locations around the state. HCPSS has offered to be a host site, but MSDE is not expected to make final decisions on locations until December. In addition to the summer, academy participants will be expected to attend two follow-up-training days during the school year.
The second academy that MSDE will sponsor during the summer of 2011 is a Teacher Induction Academy. The focus of this academy will be on providing professional development to staff who mentor and support new teachers. Approximately 20 HCPSS staff members (central office and school-based) are expected to attend.
The state has identified sixteen low performing schools that will receive special attention as a part of the state’s Race to the Top initiative. None of the schools identified by the state are in Howard County. Within its Scope of Work proposal, HCPSS decided to concentrate on the work the system is already doing to provide differentiated support to schools with larger numbers of students with greater academic needs. The focus will be on ensuring that Howard County has a system of high-achieving schools.