Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs - Southern Maryland Headline News

Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

La Plata Business Association supports fine arts in schools

The La Plata Business Association (LPBA) presented Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) a $10,000 check on Nov. 4 to support fine arts for students.

The donation came from the proceeds of the association’s second annual Rocktoberfest 2015, a small-town rock music festival presented by the LPBA and produced by Island Music. The association also donated proceeds from its inaugural event in 2014 to the school system.

Superintendent Kimberly Hill and members of the Spartones, a group of vocal music students from St. Charles High School, accepted the check from LPBA President Keith Grasso on behalf of CCPS. The Spartones performed briefly for LPBA members to show the school system’s appreciation and to provide a sample of the student talent their donation will support.

CCPS introduces HITS Expo, replaces science/history fairs

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is launching a new approach this school year that combines science and history fair projects and demonstrations, as well as technology and engineering programs, into a showcase event called the History, Industry, Technology and Science (HITS) Expo. The Expo replaces the annual Science and History Fairs, generally held annually in the spring, and will also showcase several programs offered to CCPS students such as robotics, the computer science partnership with, and Project Lead the Way. The first Expo is planned for March 19, 2016, at St. Charles High School. The implementation of the HITS Expo changes a few requirements for CCPS students.

Starting with the 2015-16 school year, only students in ninth-grade honors Earth and space science courses will be required to complete a science fair project. This project will account for 10 percent of the student’s grade in quarters one, two, three and four. Students in all other grade levels can complete a science fair project as an enrichment opportunity and earn up to 10 percent extra credit for the third quarter only.

Also changing this school year is the history fair project requirement for students. Only students in seventh grade enrichment social studies classes will be required to complete a history fair project. This project will account for 10 percent of the student’s grade in quarters one, two, three and four. Students in all other grade levels can complete a history fair project as an enrichment opportunity and can earn up to 10 percent extra credit for the third quarter only.

In prior years, science fair projects were required for students in grades 6-12 enrolled in enrichment and honors-level classes. History fair projects were required for middle school students enrolled in enrichment level courses, and high school students who took honors courses. As part of the annual CCPS Science and History fairs, students could submit their projects for judging in the local competition, and advance to the state and/or national levels. Students who participate in the Expo with a science or history fair project are still eligible to compete at the state and/or national levels.

The goal of the Expo is to showcase programs, activities and student skills in areas of science, history, technology, computer science, career and technology education (CTE) and engineering. Also planned as part of the March 19 Expo are representatives from several CCPS science, technology and industry programs located at North Point High School, staff from the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center CTE programs and James E. Richmond Science Center staff to discuss opportunities for student enrichment and public engagement.

Additional information about the Expo, such as times, exhibitors and planned presentations, will be published at a later date.

Students prepare for teaching careers with Educators Rising

La Plata High School senior Cameron Butler wants to be a teacher, but not just any teacher. He wants to be the teacher of the class all students want to take and look forward to attending each day.

Butler wants to be a teacher like his father, Christopher Butler, a veteran social studies teacher at La Plata High School, who makes a difference in the lives of his students. “Current and former students always come up to me and tell me how much they loved Mr. Butler’s class. This made me realize how much of an impact a teacher can have on a student,” he said.

Preparing for a teaching career is why Butler belongs to Educators Rising, and he shared his passion for teaching kids as a speaker at the 2015 Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Educators Rising Installation and Induction ceremony held Oct. 28 at La Plata. A former swimming teacher, Butler said, “There is no greater reward than seeing the smiling face of a child after they proudly display a new skill or hearing the long ‘ooooohhhh’ as they figure out something new.”

Educators Rising gives CCPS students a jump on their teaching careers. There are approximately 130 students from 13 CCPS middle and high schools participating in Educators Rising, formerly known as Future Educators of America. The mission of Educators Rising is to develop highly skilled educators by guiding young people on a path to becoming accomplished teachers. It is one of the tools CCPS uses to develop a future cadre of teachers.

Sarah Desrosiers, the CCPS 2015 Teacher of the Year, told the aspiring teachers that teaching is not an easy road, but one with great rewards. “All of you have that fire and you must keep it with you until the day you retire,” Desrosiers said. She reminded the students, that as teachers, they might be guiding the future rocket scientists or residents of Mars.

Following a roll call of chapters, Amy Hollstein, assistant superintendent of instruction, told the Educators Rising students to give her a call when they are ready to graduate from a college teaching program. “I’m going to give you a job in Charles County Public Schools if you are serious and want to make a difference. We want you to come back home,” Hollstein said.

The following middle school officers were installed:

Milton M. Somers Middle School: Blaire Harley, president; Madeline Malone, vice president; Katherine Akins, secretary; Hannah Raybon, treasurer; and Madisyn Dull, historian.

Mattawoman Middle School: Joylisa Jackson, president; Aliah Brown, vice president; Madysan Chisholm, secretary; Cassandra Vaccaro, historian; Madison Baker, historian; and Janiya Greenfield, parliamentarian.

Piccowaxen Middle School: Ahryel McManhan, president; Jalin Hill, vice president; Cameron Taylor, treasurer; and Tamia Knott, secretary.

John Hanson Middle School: Kieran Roth, president.

General Smallwood and Theodore G. Davis Middle Schools also have Educators Rising chapters, but do not have officers.

The following high school officers were installed:

Henry E. Lackey High School: Morgan Nalley, president; Zakah Robinson, vice president and secretary; Emily Boswell, treasurer; and Brittany Bell, historian.

La Plata High School: Amanda Klopfer, president; Jaliyah Dickerson, vice president; Layci Earnshaw, secretary; Kayla Staley, treasurer; and Sidney Saunders, historian-student liaison.

North Point High School: Angela Schroeck, president; Celeste Kagarise, vice president, Anna Radtke, secretary; Shelby Green, treasurer; and Allison Swegle, historian.

Maurice J. McDonough High School: Tiana Dukes, president; Jessica Beamer, vice president; Xianté Spencer, secretary; Monae Bell, secretary; and Quiana Willett, historian.

Westlake and St. Charles High School also have active chapters, but did not install officers at the ceremony.

State releases baseline data for PARCC

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) released local school system and school-level data today for PARCC, Maryland’s new high school assessments in Algebra I, Algebra II and English 10.

More than 30 percent of Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) high school students taking the PARCC English 10 assessment last spring scored at a level of 4 and 5 combined – the two highest levels on the PARCC five-point scale. Additionally, more than 30 percent of Charles County’s middle and high school students reached Level 4 and 5 combined in Algebra 1. On the Algebra II test, which was first administered with PARCC, 4.7 percent of students scored at a Level 4 and 5 combined.

The assessment uses a five-point score scale set by Maryland educators and others:

• Level 5 - Exceeded Expectations

• Level 4 - Met Expectations

• Level 3 - Approached Expectations

• Level 2 - Partially Met Expectations

• Level 1 - Did Not Yet Meet Expectations

For high school, achieving Level 4 or 5 indicates college or career readiness. The scores set a new baseline, and a new starting line for Maryland students, according to MSDE. This year’s PARCC results will not be used for student or educator accountability; however, the State Board will soon determine how the data will be used going forward.

“History shows us that when new accountability tests are introduced, the scores start low and end high. Accountability assessments are designed to encourage growth and improvement,” Superintendent Kimberly Hill said.

CCPS students improved greatly on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) during the decade it was used as the measure of student achievement. Its lifespan was from 2003-2013 and during that decade, elementary school students increased math scores from 39.9 percent to 81.3 percent; reading scores from 60.6 percent to 84.2 percent; middle school math from 36.8 percent to 76.9 percent; and middle school reading from 61.8 percent to 81.7 percent.

County scores

Algebra 1: Overall, 31.2 percent of students scored at level 4 and 5 combined; 29 percent scored at level 3; 29.8 percent scored at level 2 and 10 percent scored at level 1.

English 10/Language Arts: Overall, 31.0 percent of students scored at level 4 and 5 combined; 24.5 percent scored at level 3; 22.4 percent scored at level 2; and 21.2 percent at level 1.

Algebra II: Overall, 4.7 percent of students performed at level 4 and 5 combined; 20.8 percent at level 3; 41.4 percent at level 2; and 33 percent at level 1.

According to the MSDE, PARCC results cannot be compared with the MSA, which the State used for a decade, both because this is a new test and a different test. PARCC is the first assessment aligned to Maryland’s College and Career Ready Standards, which set a higher bar for student learning. The tests go beyond the old “fill in the blank” model of standardized tests by emphasizing the need for students to demonstrate critical thinking, problem solving, and clear writing.

These tests also will show growth in student achievement over time. For example, parents and teachers will better be able to determine if students taking the math and reading assessments in third grade are progressing in their understanding of the subject matter when they reach fourth grade and beyond.

The pattern of raising standards and creating new assessments has been in place in Maryland since the 1980s.

Individual high school student reports will be sent home to parents within the next few weeks. The state plans to release middle and elementary school scores in early December. For complete results, visit

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