As the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County considers next year’s school calendar, a committee is recommending an additional professional development day for elementary and middle school teachers in response to a 32% increase in the number of conditionally certified teachers in county public schools.
Students would not attend school on the extra day. Instead, teachers would spend half the day in professional development, focusing on teaching methods, and the other half catching up on grading assessments and similar work, said Bob Mosier, school system spokesperson and facilitator for the Calendar Committee.
Director of Curriculum and Assessments Nicole Howard said the teachers with conditional certificates have experience and knowledge that makes them qualified to teach, though they have not yet checked all the boxes for state certification. The professional development will help give these new teachers the tools they need to translate that knowledge into lessons. They will learn about how to get students to work together, and how to teach curriculum in a way that catches the interest of students.
As of Nov. 14, 365 conditionally certified teachers are working in the 2022-23 school year, compared to 276 working during the 2021-22, Mosier said.
The system is short 194 classroom teachers as of Nov. 16. Anne Arundel County and jurisdictions across the state are experiencing record levels of classroom teaching vacancies, driven by the COVID pandemic and other factors.
Maryland issues a conditional certificate to people who are employed by a school system but don’t meet all of the requirements for professional certification. According to the Maryland State Department of Education, the certification process ensures teachers have the qualifications and training necessary for the job.
The system’s Calendar Committee recommends adding professional development on Nov. 1, 2023, a date with an extra advantage as a day off for young students.
“That, of course, is the day after Halloween and therefore young trick-or-treaters would not have to get up and go to school,” Mosier said.
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The proposal would not lengthen the school year, as middle and elementary students have for years used a 181-day calendar, one day more than the 180 days required by state law, Mosier said. Taking the extra day off will make their year 180 days. High schools are not part of the plan.
The committee is also suggesting the system eliminate three half days that have been used in years past for parent-teacher conferences, as better options such as virtual conferences are available.
“They were deemed relatively ineffective and largely disruptive both to school operations and to the lives of parents,” Mosier said.
If the parent-teacher days are eliminated, the number of partial school days could decrease from 15 to 12 with the change.
The committee prepared two calendar options for the board to consider, one with a start date of Aug. 28 and one with a start date of Sept. 5, the day after Labor Day. Mosier said the committee recommends the Aug. 28 start. The pre-Labor Day start would result in school ending June 13 and the post-Labor Day start would have the school year end June 21.
The holiday closures planned for this year, which include Juneteenth, Eid al-Fitr, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Christmas and Easter, are part of both proposed calendars for 2023-24.
The board is scheduled to vote on the calendar during its Dec. 7 meeting. The board will consider the committee’s recommendations, as well as public comment. Written comments will be accepted through Dec. 2, and can be made through the following link: www.aacps.org/2324calendar.