The Montgomery County Board of Education voted Tuesday to conditionally support the state of Maryland’s “Race to the Top” application, as long as Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is allowed to continue using its highly successful evaluation system for educators.
The Board passed a resolution
that commended the state for setting a goal of college readiness for all students, a target that MCPS has embraced for many years. However, the Board resolution expressed concerns that the application and other draft regulations released by the Maryland State Department of Education would require MCPS to change its teacher evaluation system.
MCPS’ Professional Growth System for teachers, administered in partnership with the district’s employee associations, includes the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) panel, which pairs new or underperforming educators with consulting teachers in an effort to improve effectiveness and performance. Educators who do not improve performance can be recommended for dismissal. Each year, 40–60 educators are recommended for dismissal by the PAR panel. Over the past 10 years, about 400 underperforming teachers been removed from the classroom through dismissals, resignations or retirements.
“Montgomery County’s professional growth system has been a success by any measure,” said Patricia O’Neill, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “It has improved the effectiveness of many of our teachers and has removed hundreds of underperforming educators from the classroom.”
The state of Maryland announced in April that it will submit an application for the second round of competitive federal grants under the “Race to the Top” program. Maryland could receive up to $250 million over three years if it receives one of the grants, with about half of that going to local systems. MCPS would receive about $12 million.
“We are pleased that the state of Maryland is taking this step to raise expectations for all students, and we look forward to working with state officials on their Race to the Top application,” said Superintendent Jerry D. Weast. “Many of the initiatives outlined in the state’s application have been in place in Montgomery County for more than a decade and have led to tremendous gains in student achievement.”
“For that reason, we will take great care to make sure that our successful reform efforts, including our world-class teacher evaluation system, are not negatively impacted by the state’s application,” said Dr. Weast.
Board of Education's "Race to the Top" Resolution