Ocean City Today
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Board of Education Briefs 07/21/2017

By Kara Hallissey | Jul 20, 2017

(July 21, 2017) The Worcester County Board of Education discussed the following at its Tuesday meeting:

Character awards

The Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University will honor Snow Hill Elementary School and Stephen Decatur High School at its 2017 awards conference in October.

The program recognizes schools throughout the state that have developed, implemented and are continuing comprehensive character education initiatives in their school communities.

Each school will receive a School of the Year Character Education banner along with a certificate of recognition from the Maryland Center for Character Education at Stevenson University on Oct. 5.

Teacher evaluations

Teacher evaluations based on professional practices and student growth are required in Maryland on a yearly basis. Evaluations give teachers feedback and allows for growth and improvements in teaching.

Student growth is measured through student learning objectives such as standardized and state tests.

Non-tenured teachers have four observations a year, although tenured teachers had different options to show their professional practice objectives, such as mini-observations, portfolio and video artifacts.

Fifty-seven percent of teachers were considered highly effective and 43 percent were effective in professional practice. In student learning objectives, more than 99 percent of teachers were effective or highly effective.

Overall, 60 percent of teachers were highly effective and 40 percent were effective in professional practice and student learning objectives.

Educator program pilot

A professional learning platform for Maryland educators in Worcester County was piloted this year. Teachers are encouraged to take advantage of the professional learning opportunities based on their own needs to grow and improve their skills.

The Maryland College and Career Readiness Professional Learning program allows educators to track their professional learning and earn points toward completing professional learning levels. After completing each level, teachers receive a certificate or badge and can also earn credits.

Teachers can post activities that are cataloged into a professional learning portfolio once they create an account.

In January, 65 percent of teachers were registered for the program, which rose to 70 percent by May. The goal is to have all teachers in the district utilizing the program.

Foundation check

Todd Ferrante, chairman of the Worcester County Education Foundation, presented a $38,000 check to the members of the board to help pay for the digital conversion process next school year.

The committee was established in November 2013 and includes residents from area businesses and private sectors.

Their mission is to create a partnership between the schools and community in addition to giving students equal access to digital devices and a world-class education.

“It has been a pleasure to work with this organization,” Ferrante said. “We’ve raised an excess of $650,000 and I think we will reach the million-dollar mark next year.”

The foundation has created an endowment fund and planned a number of events throughout the county including concerts in Berlin and Snow Hill.

“These donations are supplement funds for our children and teachers in the county,” said Superintendent Lou Taylor. “They expedite our needs and have made digital conversion a reality for Worcester County Public Schools.”

Communications survey

A communications survey is open to parents near the end of the school year to measure the quality of school system communication sources, identify the most effective communication sources, refine goals and increase parental involvement in school activities.

The survey included questions about specific means of communicating, inclusive of interpersonal interaction, electronic, multimedia, social media and print publications. The survey also asked participants to give an overall rating of communications at the district and school levels.

This marks the third year the survey has been administered entirely online.

Only 19 percent of households completed the survey with 72 percent of responses coming from the northern end of the county and 34 percent of responders were parents with children at Ocean City Elementary School. There has been a decline in participation over recent years and access to the internet at home may be the reason.

About 95 percent of responders ranked district communications with three stars or higher and 91 percent of participants ranked school level communications with three stars or higher.

In the future, a strategic plan for effective communication will be developed along with alternative ways to collect county communication data with efforts to boost participation.

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