students who were not performing on grade level
by Grade 3 had little chance of being prepared
for rigorous high school courses.
In 1999, the school system developed a landmark
report, Our Call to Action,4 to articulate a shared
vision to raise the level of student achievement
to rigorous standards of academic performance
and to address the opportunity gap facing increasing
numbers of children. The report, developed by
staff, parents, community, and business leaders,
created ownership of the problem and outlined
specific strategies for systemic reform.
To address the inequity of opportunities of many
of our students, MCPS made a commitment to the
success of its youngest learners, as part of a
comprehensive reform effort. A fundamental element
of ensuring the success of the early childhood
initiative (pre-kindergarten through Grade 2)
is the focus on quality teachers and principals;
a comprehensive and aligned curriculum; individual
diagnostic assessments; a continuous feedback
loop utilizing a technology-based monitoring system;
and ongoing, targeted professional development.
MCPS identified a problem—gaps in achievement
and opportunity. A diagnosis was made and a comprehensive
plan developed—the Early Success Performance
Plan5 for the district’s youngest learners.
A clearly articulated early childhood education
plan coupled with a focus on building a quality
workforce are the two essential components of
the MCPS plan.