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How is the budget structured to address the issue of the achievement gap and provide information on the accountability measures we have in place?

Question#: 53

ANSWER:

The MCPS budget is structured to reflect our system priorities. Closing the achievement gap is central to our strategic framework and is reflected in how we budget our positions and other resources. The core of the budget is the allocations to schools that most directly support efforts to close the achievement gap. We know from data collected that schools with the greatest needs, based on Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS) rates, are also schools with higher percentages of African American and Hispanic students. Providing additional resources tor these schools is key to closing the achievement gap which is why we allocate additional funds to these schools.

Funding of schools is differentiated based on the needs of students so that schools with greater needs are allocated more staffing and other resources. MCPS has a long-standing commitment to fund schools according to the needs of the students in each school. While all schools are allocated “base or core staffing,” which is determined by a variety of enrollment and program factors, staff and other resources are allocated based on need.

These allocations are provided to support efforts and work to close the achievement gap in MCPS. They include:

  • Focus teacher positions—allocated to schools with higher FARMS eligible students to reduce class size in English and mathematics classes. The allocation formula is based on FARMS and enrollment.
  • Academic intervention teacher positions—allocated to schools with higher FARMS eligible students to lower class size and address the achievement gap. The allocation formula is based on FARMS and enrollment.
  • Alternative programs teacher positions—schools with higher FARMS eligible students, mobility, retention, and suspension rates receive greater allocations.
  • English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher and paraeducator positions—allocated to schools to support instruction of ESOL students.

In addition to staffing, other resources are allocated to schools based on needs. For example:

  • High School Intervention to Graduation program funds are allocated to provide additional support and programming for students who have not been successful in core content areas.
  • Minority Achievement program funds ($100,000 budgeted in FY 2014 and $150,000 budgeted in FY 2015) are used to implement programs that support African American and Latino students, and to address the achievement gap between these students their White and Asian peers.
  • Mini-grants are provided to schools to support for drama, newspaper and yearbook.
  • The Career Lattice provides educators with opportunities to make a difference in student achievement beyond their classroom. Participants in the Career Lattice receive supplemental pay and assume greater levels of responsibility for improving student learning, both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Achieving College Excellence and Success (ACES) is a collaborative program among Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, and the Universities at Shady Grove. ACES focuses on identifying and supporting students who are underrepresented in higher education and those who are the first in their family to attend college.
  • Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a college readiness system designed to increase schoolwide learning and performance by accelerating student learning through research based methods of effective instruction

Last year when the superintendent presented his recommended FY 2015 Recommended Operating Budget to the Board, he noted that the MCPS provides an average of $1.9 million more in resources to Focus elementary schools. Also, attached is a chart sent to Councilmember Branson in April 2014, that provides details on how the budget is differentiated to support high schools with greater needs. Furthermore, the FY 2016 Program Budget has been organized to show how budgeted resources are used support the students who require additional support to help close the achievement gap.

The accountability measures that are necessary to ensure that the achievement gap is closing are part of a multidimensional accountability system that starts with the Strategic Planning Framework’s five milestones and the annual targets established. At the school level, the School Support and Improvement Framework (SSIF) serves as the primary tool which informs many stakeholders on student progress. In addition, work has begun on developing a standard approach for accessing the impact of resource allocations and what the return is on these investments. By comparing groupings of schools based on their level of budgetary support, and aggregating student achievement around agreed upon metrics, we can identify where significant areas of improvement are occurring. This process will further inform whether resource allocation decisions align with the educational needs of students.

Council Data for High Schools

 

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