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baltimoresun.com

Carroll BOE asks for expanded timeline on education reforms

By Blair Ames, bames@tribune.com

11:05 AM EST, December 17, 2013

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The Carroll County Board of Education is asking the state delegation to support an expanded timeline for the implementation of state-mandated education reform initiatives, including the Common Core State Standards, during the upcoming General Assembly.

In a letter to State Sen. Joe Getty, the board reaffirmed its commitment to implementing the reform initiatives, including the Common Core, PARCC Assessments, and teacher and principal evaluations.

But the board also said there is waning public support to implement the initiatives, due in part to "significant misinformation regarding the reform's scope and the extent of local control we have implementing the reform efforts."

To address the issue, the board has requested the delegation support a number of positions during the upcoming legislative session, including:

• Ensure that full public awareness and participation is embedded into the process prior to approving additional mandates for curricular changes.

• Expand the timeline for implementation of additional academic standards connected to science and social studies include sufficient time and resources to provide teachers with the professional development needed to learn best practices for instruction.

• Provide at least one additional year for field testing PARCC assessments. This additional time will allow schools to perfect the logistics associated with new testing protocols. Further, it will allow school systems additional time to test and expand wireless technology needed to administer the next assessments.

• Provide additional state financing to assist school systems with the purchase of computer devices and the installation of wireless infrastructure needed to support on-line testing required under the new PARCC assessments. Carroll County Public Schools estimates $3 million of new capital revenue will be needed to fully implement a functional wireless network at each of our schools and the Central Office.

• Eliminate the Maryland State Assessment (MSA) program during this transitional period.

Getty said Monday that delegation members support delaying the implementation of Common Core, but added that its "likely" delegation members will go further and try to scale back aspects of Common Core.

Getty predicted that a repeal of Common Core or at least a push for a scaled back version will be one of the three biggest issues of the upcoming legislative session.

During an October meeting between the delegation and the Board of Education, Getty raised his concerns with the Common Core, including what he described as a "complete dismantling" of the high school language arts curriculum.

"I'm just concerned about why you would dismantle a system that was working," said Getty, who has a 10th grader at Manchester Valley High School.

At the board's Dec. 11 meeting, school officials maintained their support for the Common Core, while stressing their concerns are with the timeline to implement new curriculum.

"We have genuine concerns about the implementation schedule," Superintendent Steve Guthrie said.

Guthrie added that the school system has heard "a lot of legitimate concerns" from the public.

He compared the implementation of the Race to The Top reforms to those from No Child Left Behind, which was done over a 12 year span.

For Race to The Top, the school system is trying to implement the changes, including Common Core, PARCC Assessments, and teacher evaluations, over a three year period.

"It is a large task for us to do," Guthrie said.

The Board of Education's letter can be viewed online at www.carrollk12.org.