Montgomery County Public Schools Continuity of Learning Plan

Overview of Continuity of Learning Plan

ESSENTIAL COMPONENT 1

An overall description of how MCPS will deliver continuity of learning to all students. This will include the distance learning platform, technology available, and accommodations for students who do not have access to a device or the internet.

MCPS is committed to ensuring all students can engage in learning while school facilities are closed to combat the spread of COVID-19. The MCPS Continuity of Learning Plan takes a multi-pronged approach to providing learning and engagement to students. This primarily includes leveraging online learning platforms through digital devices, but also uses print materials and television.

MCPS has distributed Chromebooks and personal Wi-Fi hotspots to any student in need of a digital device or connectivity to access instruction online. Additionally, MCPS has worked closely with Comcast to raise awareness of its free internet service package being offered during this health crisis. Once online with their device, students can access materials through the Google Classroom or myMCPS (Canvas platform) portals. Educators can also provide live instruction through the Zoom meeting platform, which is integrated with myMCPS Classroom. MCPS has worked closely with Zoom to add additional protections to ensure the safety and privacy of students, including:

  • A restricted system that only allows access for students and teachers with MCPS accounts
  • A waiting room feature that allows teachers to review all students who seek access to the class
  • Private chat features turned off
  • Settings that turn off student cameras and microphones by default
  • Development of a formal agreement to maximize student privacy and security, and to ensure data deletion when students no longer use the software

Read more about MCPS’ commitment to student privacy here.

MCPS is supporting other online platforms and tools that ensure students with special needs can engage in learning. The district is also ensuring that accommodation software integrates with our online learning management system (LMS) platforms.

In addition to online access, MCPS is providing printed instructional materials for families. These materials are available for pick-up at meal sites once a week. The materials are primarily used for elementary and prekindergarten students. MCPS is regularly broadcasting instructional content on its television station, MCPS-TV (Comcast 34, Verizon 36 and RCN 89), to further enhance its distance learning tools. A schedule of content can be found here: www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/itv/cablecast_scheduledPrograms.aspx.


Roles and Responsibilities

ESSENTIAL COMPONENT 2

A description of the roles and responsibilities of district staff, school administrators, teachers, instructional assistants, students and parents.

The Continuity of Learning Plan acknowledges that COVID-19 has created an unprecedented circumstance for learning and engagement. MCPS continues to lead with empathy and care to maintain the relationships with students and families that are crucial to forming the foundation so learning can take place. This requires an all-hands-on-deck approach to help teachers reconnect with students, engage students in learning and attend to students’ social and emotional well-being. Teacher roles may be found in the class schedules. The following roles and the responsibilities for non-teachers are not meant to be exhaustive, but are a starting point for our work to support continuity of learning. MCPS Staff Roles and Responsibilities


Sample Student and Teacher Schedule At-A-Glance

ESSENTIAL COMPONENT 3

A sample teacher’s day and student’s day is to be included for elementary, middle and high school students.

The MCPS Continuity of Learning Plan allows for students to experience synchronous and asynchronous instruction. There was strong consensus that elementary learners require more structure, therefore, morning alternating literacy and mathematics instruction was designed. Additionally, elementary students and families who are not able to meet the demands of live instruction have the flexibility to receive instruction from pre-recorded videos in literacy, mathematics and specials. Elementary students who receive special education services or ESOL services engage in additional instruction at least twice a week in the afternoon. This instruction takes place in small groups or individually to meet the students’ Individual Education Plan goals or English Language Development needs.

For middle and high schools, the Continuity of Learning framework engages students in a learning cycle that emphasizes asynchronous instruction and learning experiences, combined with synchronous live check-ins (e.g.,office hours, web conferences) to provide students with ongoing connection, support and feedback. Although the term “office hours” may signal something optional, the scheduled check-ins are an important time for teachers and students in the learning process. The transition to Marking Period 4 will shift the emphasis to communicating the significance of attending the check-ins and making these scheduled times engaging and meaningful. However, it is also recognized that no penalty shall be placed on students who may not be able to attend at a specified time.

It is important to remember that the work students complete and the feedback teachers provide during this time is not meant to replace the day-to-day instruction that students would have received in a traditional classroom setting. The learning experiences are meant to maintain a continuity of learning; facilitate and track progress; and foster a growth mindset for students. As a result, remote learning plans do not follow the schedule of a typical school day.


Accountability and Measuring Student Progress

ESSENTIAL COMPONENT 4

An accountability plan to identify the monitoring and assessment of student performance, including a grading and reporting plan for the 3rd and 4th quarters.

MCPS developed individual school academic and well-being teams for all 208 schools. These teams are designed to support the continuity of learning plan and to ensure active engagement of all students in the virtual learning platform.

MCPS has developed comprehensive monitoring systems for student engagement and for grading and reporting. Monitoring for student engagement involves a multi-phase approach and uses several data sources. Agile and strategic action plans are created by school and central office teams to help coordinate support for identified students based on the engagement data. 

The elements of monitoring and assessing student performance focus on providing instruction aligned to core learning objectives, leveraging student accessible tools and resources, and providing the academic and social-emotional support students need. The online learning model includes a blend of approaches to learning activities—independent, self-paced work; virtual office hours to check for understanding; and submission of assignments. In reference to grading students for the 4th quarter, it has been determined that a traditional grading system based on percentages and letter grades will not serve the best interest of all students. MCPS wants to ensure the implemented  grading system has a positive impact and can only help our students’ academic standing. 

Student Engagement

Central office cross-functional teams will review students by school and develop outreach action plans to contact families centrally and provide necessary resources and support.  Wraparound services to schools and families will also be provided through the Office of Student and Family Support and Engagement (OSFSE) using the Ask OSFSE dropbox. Wraparound services pertain, but are not limited, to attendance support to schools; student social-emotional and well-being issues; family support to schools; and academic support to schools.  Specialists in these areas stand ready to serve students and families alongside community partners to maximize access to the continuity of learning in a safe environment.

The student well-being team (SWT) is a collaborative, comprehensive team whose charge is to support students to reduce barriers to learning. With schools engaging in distance learning and families under stay-at-home orders, social-emotional competence and the need to identify and support mental health challenges is more important than ever. SWTs are responsible for reaching out to families to follow-up on issues of concern and offer ongoing support and resources from OSFSE. OSFSE staff members may provide additional assistance or work with  other county partner agencies to ensure that student and family needs are met.

Grading and Reporting

  • MP3 Elementary

Grading Guidance for Marking Period 3

  • MP4 Elementary and MP4 Secondary

4th Marking Period

MCPS is gathering input from staff, students and the community regarding grading and reporting for the 4th Marking Period. MCPS has explored the options of a process that assigns grades, as well as one that does not assign grades. MCPS has used the following guiding principles regarding grading and reporting for the 4th Marking Period.


Maximum flexibility, fairness and equity 

  • Holding students harmless
    • Final grades no lower than recorded semester mark and with opportunity to improve
    • Assurances that vulnerable students and students historically who have benefited from traditional grading practices are not negatively impacted
  • Employing policies and procedures that serve the best interests of all students, but especially those who may not be able to fully access instruction during this time
    • Access to devices (none or sharing devices)
    • Caring for siblings (engagement at other times)
  • Engaging students in the curriculum, providing meaningful feedback, and tracking their progress and engagement
  • Ensuring fourth- and fifth-year seniors who are on track to graduate, will graduate on time, and others are given flexibility in meeting their remaining graduation requirements by August 2020

4th Marking Period—Elementary

Letter grades will not be assigned for the 4th Marking Period. The emphasis will be on engaging students in learning experiences and connecting with and engaging as many students as possible. Measures and considerations put in place to ensure students are progressing and meeting learning objectives include:

  • Providing students with the opportunity to engage in a variety of learning experiences
  • Following up with students and their parents/guardians in identified areas of concern
  • Engaging students in academic and social-emotional work
  • Providing teachers with information so that when students return to school, they will know  which skills to work on, and how to engage them in learning at the next grade level

4th Marking Period—Secondary

In middle and high schools, a traditional letter grade system will not be used for the 4th Marking Period. MCPS is developing a grading and reporting framework for secondary schools that is commonly known as “Pass/Incomplete” or “Credit/No Credit” for the remainder of the year. Implementation of this grading approach will ensure fairness and equity for all students, while also engaging students in the curriculum, providing meaningful feedback, and tracking student progress. MCPS is working with stakeholders (teachers, parents, students and union leaders) to ensure a smooth transition to this system and ensure that teachers and students understand the criteria for success.


Equity, Accommodations and Related Supports and Services

ESSENTIAL COMPONENT 5

A description of how the school system plans to address Equity and should address Special Education, English Learners, Students with Academic Needs, Homeless Students and Gifted Students.

Special Education

MCPS students who  receive special education and related services will continue to receive them,  according to their Individualized Distance Learning Plan (IDLP), which has been developed in collaboration with parents/guardians. This agreement is documented (a sample IDLP Prior Written Notice can be found here) and the documentation of services in the plan will be entered in the Maryland Online Individualized Education Program (MOIEP) Related Services log. (Sample Related Services Log Notes can be found here.) Use the link below to view the entire MCPS Office of Special Education Continuity of Learning Plan. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IMiOU6sf21FOSyJC-XcvRT_wg2S2ekH_/view

Elementary ESOL

During the Continuity of Learning Plan, ESOL students participate in the same distance learning opportunities in Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English/Language Arts (ELA) as general education students. In addition, English Language Development (ELD) instructional videos have been created for ESOL Levels 1-5 students and families at elementary school levels aligned to ELA and Mathematics. In addition, ELA and Mathematics intervention and supports are in place for ESOL students with interrupted formal educations in Grades 3-5. Both content and ESOL teachers provide ELD to their students through ELA curriculum and also provide at least two check-ins weekly to teach, re-teach, explain assignments and/or provide feedback to students. Here is a link to sample schedules for schools with small, medium and large ESOL student populations. In addition, click this link to watch the Mathematics/ELD or ELA webinars devoted to ELD during Continuity of Learning. MCPS Continuity of Learning Plan for Elementary ESOL Students

Secondary ESOL

During the Continuity of LearningPlan, ESOL students participate in the same distance learning opportunities in Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English/Language Arts (if dually enrolled) as general education students. In addition, ESOL courses have been created for ESOL Levels 1-5 students at the middle and high school levels based on their courses of enrollment. In addition, literacy and math intervention and supports are in place for ESOL students with interrupted formal education in Grades 6-12. Both content and ESOL teachers provide learning resources to their students and also provide two check-ins a week to teach, re-teach, explain assignments and/or provide feedback to students. 

Here is a link to a sample schedule for students with additional information for ESOL students. A link to a presentation shared with ESOL teachers to provide guidance about supports for secondary ESOL students in Grades 6-12 is also included.

Reading and Mathematics Interventions

Teachers and paraeducators who were providing reading and mathematics interventions to individual students or small groups of students prior to COVID-19 are continuing to do so in the distant learning model. Prior to providing the interventions, teachers and paraeducators took online professional development on  providing interventions to students in a distance learning model. The intervention courses provided information, guidance and resources for teachers, students and parents/guardians to support the process of getting started with online learning, implementation guidance, teacher resources and supports and parent/guardian resources.  

Gifted Students

Teachers and instructional staff (e.g., reading specialists, staff development teachers) who provide enriched and accelerated instruction to students enrolled in a local or regional gifted program prior to COVID-19 are continuing to do so . Prior to launching the  distance learning plan for the local and regional gifted programs, teachers and instructional staff must participate in online professional development focused on the technical tools and curriculum expectations. A recording of the elementary curriculum sessions is located under the “Professional Development” section of this plan. The elementary local and regional gifted program teacher courses provide information, guidance and resources for teachers, students and parents/guardians to support accessing the online learning, implementation and pacing guidance, and teacher resources and support. All local and regional gifted programs follow guidance set forth by the core content areas for grading and reporting, instructional time and virtual office hours in order to maintain consistency for families. MCPS Continuity of Learning Plan for Accelerated and Enriched Instruction


Professional Development

ESSENTIAL COMPONENT 6

A section that identifies the professional development plan for staff.

Professional Development

In order to support school-based staff with delivering synchronous and asynchronous instruction, MCPS designed and implemented a comprehensive professional development program for professional staff, supporting staff and substitutes. Professional development offerings began the week of March 30 and have continued each week based on stakeholder need and input. Professional development topics fall into several categories, including technology, curriculum and instruction, and student services. Many training sessions have been and continue to be offered in a conference style, with live sessions repeating throughout each day and week. This model provides staff with the opportunity to join sessions when it fits into the weekly instructional schedule; join sessions more than once if needed; and attend sessions that are of particular importance for them. All sessions have been, and continue to be, recorded so that staff can attend a session that they missed or rewatch a session as needed. In addition to conference-style sessions, self-paced courses were created for staff to enroll in and complete as needed. Quick guides, videos and self-help materials were also created and aggregated by topic to provide staff with multiple ways to access professional development materials.

Technology Professional Development

Technology professional development focused on using technology to teach in a remote learning model. MCPS allowed the use of two digital learning management platforms—Canvas (myMCPS Classroom) and Google Classroom. A series of training sessions focused on using these platforms to engage with students. Live sessions are part of the K-12 Continuity of Learning program, so using video conferencing was also a core course offering. Teachers and staff wanted help with recording videos, using document cameras, and annotating resources, so this also became a core focus for getting started in this new remote learning experience.

Curriculum and Instruction Professional Development

These sessions provided the opportunity for teachers to reconnect with curriculum teams on topics, such as guidance for continuity of learning; finishing Marking Period 3; support and best practices for online and remote/distance learning; and previewing essential content for Marking Period 4. Additionally, ongoing check-in sessions for teacher leaders are offered regularly to provide on-demand support and collect feedback around implementation.

Student Services Professional Development

Professional development in this category includes a focus on ensuring content is accessible to all learners. Meeting the needs of special education students, as well as English language learners, is a focus of these sessions. Restorative Justice, as well as the MCPS Be Well 365 initiative, is another focus. As a result, MCPS students are engaged in Be Well 365 lessons and experiences through counselors, pupil personnel workers, and other members of the school academic and well-being teams.

Additional Information for Professional Development

https://drive.google.com/file/d/10WrMDnBxgur6_W3dtiyQ6nwp4t3cVotn/view


Resources for Students

ESSENTIAL COMPONENT 7

A description of the resources available for students.

In order to support school based staff with delivering synchronous and asynchronous instruction, MCPS created a continuity of learning system that offered multiple ways to provide the resources students need to engage in meaningful instructional activities. This document provides specifics about what these resources are and how they are available to students.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zOpWLDj4-wPUMhcnOuhVlxMpZdASa8QKDcYwAXvLhVM/edit?usp=sharing


Plan for Homeless Students

ESSENTIAL COMPONENT 8

A description of the support available to MCPS homeless students.

MCPS homeless students are participating in the same distance learning opportunities in Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English/Language Arts (ELA) as general education students. Pupil Personnel Workers (PPWs) and the International Admissions & Enrollment (IAE) office Homeless Liaison and support staff are also contacting these students to ensure they have the resources they need to remain connected to their schools and engaged in e learning. Staff are also ensuring that these students and their families are receiving MCPS communications regarding device and meal distributions. The MCPS Homeless Liaison regularly communicates with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) on the types of support being provided to homeless students and on the management of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grant. The liaison is currently exploring online tutoring options to continue supports that were offered in Montgomery County shelters before the school closure.  For any questions regarding MCPS homeless student support, please contact the MCPS Homeless Liaison Margarita Bohorquez at Margarita_I_Bohorquez@mcpsmd.org.


Recovery Strategy

MCPS is currently working on a recovery strategy to support social emotional health, student safety, and academic learning when students return to school.