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Summary of Vision 2018 Listen and Learn Feedback

This spring, Howard County Public School System leaders held a series of 14 “Vision 2018 Listen and Learn Sessions” with 746 stakeholders to gain feedback on implementation of the school system’s strategic plan, Vision 2018: Fulfilling the Promise of Preparation. Participants at these sessions included parents, staff members, students, and community members.

Additional stakeholders participated in the feedback process through an online survey, which drew 378 respondents. Of these, parents represented 93.1 percent, with the remainder representing non-parent staff and community members.

Overall, stakeholders identified four areas as priorities for HCPSS focus:

  • Emotional and social development and support for the whole child
  • Academic excellence and the expansion of curriculum and electives
  • Improved communication with parents and community members
  • Support for students with disabilities and other special needs

Several topics drew the greatest volume of feedback.

Standardized testing

Testing was the most frequently identified concern expressed by both survey and session participants. Many urged the system to reduce the amount and length of testing implemented, and questioned the value these tests deliver to the educational process.

Academic preparation

The most commonly cited concerns in this area included a perceived inconsistency in instruction among teachers; insufficient preparation for the next academic level, especially at key transition points (moving from elementary to middle school, and from middle to high school); and a need for greater emphasis on social and emotional development and on critical thinking skills.

Many parents would like to see additional supports and challenges provided to on- or below- grade level students, as well as greater equity in the enrichment opportunities provided to all students. Some also requested greater emphasis on physical education and instruction in language and fine arts.

Technology

Although about two-thirds of stakeholders expressed satisfaction in the system’s use of technology in the classroom, the most often cited concerns centered on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) implementation, especially in grades below high school; the need for upgraded technology and technology-related curriculum at all levels; and access and equity issues.

Next Steps

A special “Vision in Action” team, consisting of teachers, school leaders and administrators, will collaborate with parent and community groups throughout the 2016–2017 school year to recommend changes and improvements to HCPSS strategies. Starting with standardized testing practices, the team will address all of the priority topics identified by stakeholders.

HCPSS will update parents and staff on the team’s plans and progress over the upcoming months.