Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Community Members,
As we prepare to start another week of online learning in MCPS, I continue to be amazed by the strength, resilience and creativity of our students and staff. They are persevering through this incredibly challenging time and doing their best to teach, learn and establish new routines.
I am proud of the ways our students are stepping up to support each other and helping the most vulnerable in our community. Our talented, creative and compassionate students are manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare and other essential workers; collecting food donations and organizing virtual proms; and teaching younger students new skills virtually.
As a reminder, we are now transitioning into the next phase of our Continuity of Learning Plan (online learning/remote instruction). The first phase focused on getting students and staff comfortable with remote instruction and closing out the 3rd Marking Period. In Phase II, our goal is to provide more direct, new instruction and ongoing student engagement. We will continue to focus on meeting learning objectives; leveraging student access to tools and resources; and providing the academic and social-emotional support students need. We will share more information with you about elementary and secondary instruction in Phase II next week.
If we can continue to work together, support each other, and do our part to lessen the severity COVID-19 is inflicting on our community, I am confident we will come out of this stronger and better as individuals and as a school district.
Please take a few minutes to read the important updates below. They cover a range of topics, including grading and reporting, online registration for new MCPS students, the last day of school for seniors, and new wellness resources for the entire family. We also want to remind families that Tuesday, April 28, 2020, will be an instructional day for students and staff. We encourage you to visit our Coronavirus and online learning webpages frequently to view important updates and resources.
Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Grading and Reporting
As we shared in the April 19 community letter, MCPS will not be using a traditional letter grade system for the 4th Marking Period. We are developing a grading and reporting framework for secondary schools that is commonly known as “Pass/Incomplete.” We know that there are many questions about how this will be implemented and we want to assure you that clear criteria and guidance about the multiple measures that constitute a “Pass” will be provided after gathering additional input from stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, our employee associations and college/university admissions offices). These measures may include, but are not limited to: completion of assignments, meeting a threshold of performance expectations, attending teacher check-ins and teacher professional judgment, and others. We also want to reiterate that a decision has not been made about calculation of the overall semester grade, Grade Point Average (GPA) or how grades will be reported on transcripts. The Board of Education (Board) will discuss and approve a final plan at its May 12, 2020, business meeting. The meeting will be broadcast live on the MCPS website and on MCPS-TV. We will provide an update to the community once the Board takes final action. You can view the April 21 Board discussion about grading and reporting here.
Marking Period 3 Report Cards
Report cards for Marking Period 3 are being mailed on April 27. It is important to note that teachers, principals and central office staff took great care to ensure that the grades assigned were fair and equitable given the extraordinary circumstances. We also wanted to ensure that those students who were working throughout the marking period towards a desired grade had opportunities to do so.
At the elementary level—in an effort to ensure that grades were assigned with maximum flexibility, fairness and equity—parents may notice that sections of their child’s elementary report card do not show a grade or show an “M” for a missing grade. We believe this approach was necessary given the extended school closure and significant interruptions to the marking period. We want to assure you that a missing grade will have no impact on your child’s grade advancement, articulation or other academic matters moving forward.
At the secondary level, report cards will indicate a letter grade in each course for Marking Period 3. Phase I of online learning included extending the end of the marking period to ensure students had the time and support (via office hours) in completing assignments to successfully finish the 3rd Marking Period. In some cases, students may receive a grade of “Incomplete” in order to provide students with additional opportunities and assignments that may be needed to finish the marking period and earn a grade. If you have questions about a grade or assignments needed to resolve a grade of “Incomplete,” please contact your child’s teacher. In cases of an “Incomplete,” schools will also be contacting families to develop a plan for the student to complete remaining assignments to earn a passing grade.
For students receiving special education services
, please reference your child’s Marking Period 3 Progress Reports for additional information on progress towards meeting Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals. We will ensure that Marking Period 3 grades will not serve as an isolated data point with respect to IEP decisions.
Online registration for new MCPS students
MCPS has launched a new online registration/enrollment process to support families who wish to enroll their children. Families who are enrolling their children in Prekindergarten/Head Start programs and kindergarten for the 2020-2021 school year, as well as new K-12 and international enrollments for the 2019-2020 school year, can complete the process in three ways:
- Online, starting with this Registration Survey
- Over the phone by calling 240-740-5999
- By paper forms. Call 240-740-5999 to request forms be mailed to your home.
Last Day of School for Seniors and Graduation Survey
The last day of school for seniors is May 22, 2020. Many of you have voiced concerns about the uncertainty around graduation for the Class of 2020. We want to hear your thoughts on how MCPS should move forward with recognition and celebrations for the Class of 2020, and we ask parents of seniors to please complete this brief survey by Friday, May 1, 2020. Seniors will receive a separate survey via email.
College Board and IB updates
The College Board has announced that Advanced Placement (AP) exams will be administered from May 11 through May 22, in an “at-home” format. The exams will only include topics and skills most AP teachers and students covered in class by early March. Like many college-level exams, the exams will be open book/open note. Specific information about accommodations for AP World Languages and Cultures exams will be available the week of April 27. The College Board understands that not all students have access to the internet or a device at home and is working on solutions to help students get what they need to show their best work.
Up-to-date information is available by checking ongoing AP Updates from College Board.
Online AP courses for students are also provided by the College Board in each course, in addition to myMCPS courses developed by MCPS teachers.
MCPS has created an AP FAQ for Students. The College Board also has webinars that have been helpful for educators and parents, such as parent webinars and subject-specific webinars for teachers,
Traditional International Baccalaureate (IB) exams will no longer be held. IB students will either be awarded the Diploma, Career-related Programme certificate or a course certificate that reflects their standard of work. The achievement will be based on the student’s coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigor and quality control already built into the programmes. More information is available on the IB Organization website.
Student Member of the Board Election
The Student Member of the Board (SMOB) election that was originally scheduled for April 22, 2020, has been moved to May 20, 2020. We have been working to provide students with access to information about each candidate and to determine the best platform for online voting to ensure that the election can take place regardless of whether students are in the school building.
The two candidates for the 43rd SMOB are Mr. Nick Asante, a junior at Richard Montgomery High School, and Miss Victoria Kidder, a junior at Col. Zadok Magruder High School. Click here to read the candidate profiles, and watch this video to learn about their positions on key issues. The candidates have also recorded a short video sharing their thoughts on the impact of COVID-19, which can be viewed here. All secondary students will receive an email on May 20 with a link to the ballot. Additional details will be shared with students in the coming days.
Eureka Math Programming on MCPS-TV
Elementary students can watch supplemental educational programming from Eureka Math on MCPS-TV cable channels Comcast 34, Verizon 36 and RCN 89. The lessons in the series are taught by expert K-5 teacher-writers from Greatminds.org. Eureka Math programming is additional content for students to expand their knowledge outside of the MCPS Continuity of Learning requirements. View the schedule to find out when Eureka Math programming will air by grade level, module and lesson.
Parent Academy Offering Resources, Webinars to Families
The MCPS Parent Academy has canceled its spring 2020 workshops, however, plans are in the works to create a series of Parent Academy To-Go videos that families can watch at home. Stay updated by frequently checking the Parent Academy website.
This website also has links to webinars and resources available to help families. These resources, offered by the Parent Encouragement Program and Common Sense, are:
New Video Series to Highlight Health and Well-Being Resources
MCPS has launched a new video series, “Waymaking,” which highlights mental health and well-being resources for staff and students as families adapt to the evolving changes in daily life. The show is hosted by Dr. Christina Conolly, director of psychological services for MCPS. You can watch the first episode here.