Dr. Jack Smith, superintendent of schools, has made identifying and serving the needs of our highly able learners a priority and used the Metis Report as a catalyst for creating an expansive vision of access to enriched and accelerated instruction. This vision is based on Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) commitment to expanding access to enriched and accelerated instruction for students. Last year’s field test for the Elementary Centers for Enriched Studies increased the number of elementary students receiving enriched and accelerated instruction from 482 to 944. MCPS currently is in the process of universal screening for all Grade 3 students to assess the need for enriched and accelerated instruction. Additionally, we currently are field testing a similar process in Grade 5 for articulation to middle school application magnet programs.
As a result of the work, expanding access to enriched and accelerated instruction, MCPS is piloting the Enriched Literacy Curriculum. This increases the ways in which students can access enriched and accelerated instruction. MCPS has focused on building the infrastructure to meet the needs of highly able students from around the county. This year the number of Elementary Centers for Enriched Studies increased from 7 to 12, with 10 additional schools piloting the new Enriched Literacy Curriculum. It is anticipated, as the process expands to systemwide implementation, the number of students with access to enriched and accelerated instruction will continue to increase.
In addition to these efforts, MCPS has made a significant commitment to early talent development with the addition of Primary Talent Development Coaches, the Extended Learning Opportunities Summer Title I Enrichment Program, and the Young Scholars program. Investing in building a strong continuum of services in K–12 is a priority for the school system.
This year, MCPS has invested in strengthening enriched and accelerated instruction at the middle school level. A field test at Takoma Park and Eastern middle schools is underway as is an evaluation of how to expand and strengthen enriched and accelerated instruction at all middle schools. It is expected that this work also will expand opportunity to more students. MCPS has seized the opportunity afforded by the Metis Report to place a renewed emphasis on creating opportunities for highly able learners as a systemwide commitment.
MCPS values the work of staff in the Division of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction (AEI) and the school system will continue to support the continued expansion of services for our highly able learners. However, it is clear that one group of educators is not sufficient to meet the needs of all highly able learners in the system. It is imperative that every educator take responsibility for meeting the needs of our highly able students. One of the goals of the choice team is to strengthen the ability of all schools to meet the needs of highly able students. This school-level support is most critical for students and there has been a great deal of effort put into building the local schools capacity.
Although there are reductions in AEI staffing, an AEI team will remain with a supervisor and instructional specialists. In addition, the current AEI coordinator position which works with International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs is moving to the Department of Secondary Curriculum and Districtwide Programs in order to better integrate work with the academic and career readiness content area supervisors. As a part of the creation of instructional specialist teams in the Office of School Support and Improvement (OSSI), one AEI specialist position will move to OSSI.
The work of AEI will continue through a more integrated system where advocates for enriched and accelerated instruction will be embedded with others in the curriculum and program office, putting them at the table when decisions are made about curriculum, instruction, and programs. By creating a space where diverse perspectives come together to meet the needs of all students we believe that the needs of the highly able learners, and indeed all learners, will be well served.