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Carroll County Public Schools puts two tech policies in place in time for start of school year

Carroll County Public Schools puts two tech policies in place in time for start of school year
The Carroll County Board of Education heard presentations on several policies in their last meeting before the start of the school year Aug. 14, 2019. (Courtesy Photo)

In its last meeting before the start of the school year, the Carroll County Board of Education approved two policy changes and heard presentations about two more.

They addressed school system goals from protecting data to communicating with the community.

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Community engagement

Jason A. Anderson, Chief Academic, Equity and Accountability Officer presented on a proposed update to the way the school system does outreach and makes contact with the community.

This is nothing new as a goal for Carroll County Public Schools — it’s included as the second Pillar of the CCPS strategic plan, which Anderson also gave a presentation on at the meeting.

The proposed change is to split the policy that talks about community engagement with the community into three policies: family, business and community engagement.

The reason for the change was because, Anderson said, "We feel like we need to provide a detailed and direct effort in all three of those areas as we move forward.”

The full text of the three proposed policies, which include definitions and procedures, is included with the agenda from the most recent meeting, either at the CCPS administrative building or at carrollk12.org.

CCPS will hear public comment on the proposed change.

Grading homework, communicating student achievement

A proposed update to the Grading Homework and Communicating Student Achievement Policy policy comes as a result of state regulations for records. School systems are required to provide an explanation and process for any change to a student’s final grade.

The goal is to ensure “quality control to any future grade changes in the student information system,” according to the memo attached to the proposed change. A new section titled “Grade Changing Procedures” outlines who in the school system is authorized to make changes to final grades, how that process should take place and how CCPS will audit the validity of grade changes.

Anderson said the procedure for a grade change will work similarly to the way it did in the past.

“What we’re being held responsible now for is the actual documentation, if you will, and making sure that it’s not just done in our internal services ... but also having a quality control that’s provided and making sure that there’s multiple people that are included in the decision making," he said.

CPPS will have to submit the updated local policy to the Maryland State Department of Education by Oct. 1.

The full text of the policy with the changes is included with the agenda from the most recent meeting, either at the CCPS administrative building or at carrollk12.org. The community is invited to comment on the proposed change.

Data Governance and Student Data Privacy

A new policy and a policy revision both passed unanimously at the meeting, aimed at making the school system a better steward for data.

The larger was the Data Governance Policy, which sets up a framework for taking a comprehensive look at how data is handled and by whom, from collection to destruction within CCPS.

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The Data Policy Committee, created in April, is tasked with drawing up the specifics of the policy over the next year and making sure it complies with all laws and regulations. They’ll bring standards back to the Board of Education for approval.

In the long term, a Data Governance Committee will become a permanent fixture in the school system as part of the superintendent’s executive leadership team. They will maintain and enforce the standards for data governance in CCPS.

At the July meeting when the policy was first introduced, Gregory Bricca, chief of strategic planning and system performance, spoke about how state regulations for reporting graduation data had been a catalyst. But CCPS will go a step further and look at not only student data but data at all levels including staff and HR.

The school system received no public comment related to the policy.

Board of Education Vice President Marsha Herbert thanked Bricca for the amount of work he and his colleagues are putting into the policy.

The Board also passed a revision to the Student Data Privacy Policy.

The revision focuses on protecting student’s personally identifiable data when using “digital tools” in the course of instruction. Digital tools are defined as “any website, application (app), or software that requires a student account with a username and password.”

The CCPS Tech Request Review Team has to review any digital tool that asks for students’ personally identifiable information before it can be used in the school system. CCPS will seek consent from parents and guardians when a digital tool asks for a student to create an account.

Superintendent Steve Lockard said the Board had received comment on the policy and incorporated legal review.

According to a staff memo for the board, there was public comment from those in agreement with the need for the revision, but none critiquing the language of the revision.

The policy is reviewed annually.

The full text of both policies are available at carrollk12.org or at the CCPS administrative offices.

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