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Calvert Co. Public Schools News Briefs


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Transportation Department Cuts Accidents by Over 50%

In his annual report to the Board of Education, Director of Transportation Ed Cassidy announced that the department reduced accidents involving a school bus by over 50% in the 2016-2017 school year.

Sixteen buses were involved in an accident in 2016-2017, compared to thirty-seven the previous year. An accident is considered to be any time a bus hits something or something hits a bus, resulting in damage. Mr. Cassidy attributed the reduction primarily to a training program that emphasizes defensive driving, plus safety inspections and an accident review committee that studies the circumstances of each incident and determines the preventability of the accident.

Dr. Daniel D. Curry, Superintendent, said, "We would like to thank our school bus drivers for the reduction in accidents, and we look forward to another year of safe school bus transportation for our students."

Other department highlights included a Driver Recruitment Fair hosted jointly with the bus contractors that attracted over fifty potential drivers, the installation of surveillance equipment on all school buses, and professional development for the implementation of enhanced school bus routing software.

The Calvert County Public Schools Department of Transportation manages the intake, pre-service training, and in-service training for all certified school vehicle drivers.

CCPS PARCC Scores Increase

The results of the third administration of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments show gains for Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) in both math and English language arts. The results were released five weeks earlier than they were last year, giving educators more time to analyze the data and plan instruction.

Dr. Daniel D. Curry, Superintendent, said, "We are very happy to see progress on the PARCC assessments. Our staff is ready to drill down and analyze data to determine our next steps."

Both elementary and middle school students showed gains on the English language arts assessment. The percentage of elementary students scoring a 4 or 5 increased from 50% to 52%. The percentage of middle school students scoring a 4 or 5 increased from 48% to 52%. Statewide, 41% of students in grades three through eight scored a 4 or 5.

Scores increased in math at the elementary and middle school levels, as well. The percentage of students scoring a 4 or 5 increased from 53% to 55% at the elementary level, compared to about 40% across the state. The percentage of students scoring 4 or 5 in middle school increased from 33% to 34%, which exceeds the state average by a few points.

Scores on the Algebra 1 assessment-which is taken by some students in middle school and some in high school, depending upon when they are enrolled in the Algebra 1 course-showed the most dramatic increase, with the percentage of students scoring a 4 or 5 increasing from 29% to 50%. Statewide, 36.5% of students scored a 4 or 5.

The results for the English 10 assessment stayed constant, with 66% of students scoring a 4 or 5. Across Maryland, just under half of students scored a 4 or 5 on English 10.

PARCC assessments are scored on a five-point scale, with level 1 set as not meeting expectations and level 5 as exceeding expectations.

Scores on the PARCC Assessment are not being used for student, educator, school, or system-level accountability purposes at this time. In the coming weeks, Maryland will send to the federal government a revised accountability plan, under the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act. That document will outline the State's ideas on how it will use State assessment data in the coming years. The State plan must be approved by the US Department of Education.

Findings of Special Ed Department Audit

Last spring, Calvert County Public Schools (CCPS) contracted with WestEd-a research, development, and service agency-to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the organization, practices, and services of its current special education program. The project managers recently presented the findings to the Board of Education. WestEd observed many areas deserving commendation and made a series of recommendations for future improvement.

Dr. Daniel D. Curry, Superintendent, said, "We felt we would benefit from an independent review to make us more effective and more efficient. WestEd has given us a number of good ideas."

WestEd gathered information through a variety of methods, including interviews, surveys, document reviews, classroom observation, and comparisons with other school districts. Seven areas of inquiry that reflect four of the CCPS Master Plan goals guided the project. The areas of inquiry consisted of: (1) organization and continuum of services; (2) policies, practices, and procedures; (3) staffing; (4) student outcomes; (5) finance; (6) data use; and (7) communication.

Overall, the findings indicate that the special education program is staffed with dedicated, hard-working teachers and assistants who believe that students with disabilities can achieve at a high level. The district offers a wide range of professional development opportunities to special education staff throughout the year and greatly utilizes staff input in planning the sessions. CCPS has established Student Services Teams (SSTs) in its schools to help identify and support students who are struggling or at?risk learners. A large majority of students with IEPs are served within district programs, including specialized regional programs. As such, the district has a wide continuum of services and programs available to meet the needs of its students with disabilities. Significantly, CCPS' graduation rate (4?year adjusted cohort) is higher than the comparison districts and the state for students with and without disabilities, and the gap between the two groups of students is smaller than any of the comparison districts. In addition, the gap in attendance rates of students with and without disabilities is the smallest of all comparison districts.

Among the recommendations, WestEd found that CCPS can improve efficiency by deploying staff differently and clearly defining responsibilities, in addition to strengthening professional development, staff recruitment, and transition services. For example, establishing a strategic staff recruitment and hiring plan that expands recruitment efforts and begins heavy recruitment in January when the pool of teachers and related service providers is at its peak will facilitate hiring highly skilled staff. Professional development can be more strategic by basing it on district and student needs and by providing it in a job-embedded, ongoing manner whenever possible, while focusing on Universal Design for Learning (UDL); targeted, small-group instruction; student engagement; and Individualized Education Plan (IEP) compliance. CCPS should examine how it can appropriately educate more students with IEPs in general education classrooms by utilizing co-taught classes, providing professional development to general education teachers, and examining scheduling practices. In order to help students transition across grade levels, school buildings, and into post-secondary opportunities, WestEd recommends that the district examine the articulation process, particularly regarding secondary transition services.

District and school staff will use the findings of the audit to guide future programming and staffing decisions. The full report is available on BoardDocs on the CCPS website, www.calvertnet.k12.md.us, under "Board Meeting Information" on the "Board of Education" tab.

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