2018 - 2019
Greetings from Teaching and Learning,
On behalf of the Teaching and Learning Department, it is with great excitement that I welcome each and every one of you back to a new school year. With already two weeks into 2018-19, there is no doubt that our students are experiencing exceptional learning opportunities under the tutelage and care of all of you - our highly qualified, remarkable MCPS staff!
As we embark upon a new year, I write this letter to take a moment to celebrate recent accomplishments, reflect upon past learnings, and set forth a vision for the work that Teaching and Learning is committed to facilitating throughout each school year.
To begin, we have much to celebrate. Over the past two years, a variety of content-based task forces have come together to develop essential curriculum components and inform implementation plans that scale-up our teaching and learning efforts. In fact, over 40 teachers and administrators across all grade levels committed over 100 hours to affirm a guaranteed and viable ELA curriculum through the prioritization of standards, development of proficiency scales, and recommendation of core materials. Over 75 K-12 teachers and administrators vetted and championed a new district-wide Universal Screener, STAR 360, as a foundational component to our Balanced Assessment System. In addition, at the elementary level, Science created units of study while Health Enhancement prioritized standards and wrote proficiency scales. At the secondary level, the 6-12 CTE Task Force informed a transparent budgeting process along with improved programming, and the 6-12 Math Task Force completed prioritized standard and proficiency scale development. Meanwhile, the K-12 Library and Counseling Task Forces delved into national standards. Such extraordinary work illustrates the shared expertise amongst us!
The results of such celebrations are found across the district. In state testing, we can confirm an upward trend across all grades, 3 to 8, in ELA over the past two years. We also can confirm that our K-9 STAR Reading scores provide evidence of significant improvement when focusing on specific prioritized standards between testing windows. In both cases, the improved student achievement is a direct result of our teachers developing clarity around student areas for growth and sharing of best practices that continue to occur during our PLCs, both at the school level and during district-wide job-embedded PD.
Even with such celebrations, comes a need to reflect and identify our areas for improvement. This is the essential task we ask of our students and ourselves everyday. Upon reflection over the past year, our essential work of teaching and learning has been somewhat taxing, presenting moments of difficult dialogue, discord and a true test of our collaborative community. I want to acknowledge that I challenged and disrupted the status quo, sometimes doing so without a clear explanation of the “compelling why” or a clear reason for the purpose of the work. I also acknowledge that the process and methods for communication did not always promote a collective understanding nor reach all important people involved. I commit to you that as I have developed this understanding, it comes with a sincere interest, dedication, and promise to put this learning into action for our future work together.
As a result, the vision for 2018-19 is steeped in a commitment to fortify our collaboration, and inspire a collective, professional commitment to implementing our new, school-board-approved English Language Arts curriculum standards, proficiency scales and materials. Our district student learning goal for 2018-19 is to improve our Spring ELA SBAC results by 5 to 7 percent across all grades, 3 to 8; our adult learning goal is to further develop our own teacher clarity and promote teacher efficacy through improved communication and a shared purpose.
As we commit to this year’s focus on improving foundational literacy skills, I look forward to working together in the future with shared clarity and purpose on student outcome goals in Math, Science, Social Studies, CTE, HPE, Counseling, Library and Foreign Languages.
In total, I honor our shared learning evolution as a professional, trusting, collaborative community. Together, we will continue to celebrate, reflect, and seek input to inform future work - all within the realm of a collective, shared commitment to our students, each other, and best teaching and learning practices throughout this new school year.
Teaching and Learning Beyond the Bar,
Elise M. Guest, Ed.D