Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Staff:
Thank you for your support as we continue our transition to the 4th Marking Period and Phase II (April 20–May 15) of online learning in Montgomery County Public Schools. While we have encountered and addressed many challenges along the way, we continue to see so many of our staff doing innovative, engaging and inspiring things through our online platforms. Our students continue to demonstrate how resilient and creative they are; a group from Oakland Terrace Elementary School is teaching us how we can use art to express ourselves and encourage one another.
While we remain hopeful that we will be able to see our students, families and staff soon, our work is ongoing to ensure that we can continue to provide robust online learning no matter how long our school buildings are closed. We are continuing to refine and improve our plans and processes based on community feedback and data analysis.
Please read the important updates below. They cover a range of topics, including the criteria students will need to meet in order to receive a “Pass” during the 4th Marking Period and how we are monitoring student engagement.
Jack R. Smith, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Marking Period 4 Grading Criteria
for Middle and High School
MCPS has developed a framework that provides criteria for staff on how to determine whether a student can earn a “Pass” for the 4th Marking Period. Our framework emphasizes the importance of overall student engagement over precise scores/grades on assignments. It includes multiple criteria, such as completion of assignments, demonstration of learning, engaging with teachers in multiple ways, and the teachers’ professional judgement. Teachers will continue to use their gradebook as a tool to track assignments and provide feedback to students, but it is important to remember that traditional use of grading categories, percentages, and letter grades visible in the parent portal may not be the same interpretation as “normal” marking periods. There are additional multiple measures (in the chart below) that will also be used to determine a passing grade.
The framework for the grading criteria is found below:
A STUDENT WILL EARN A GRADE OF “PASS” BY MEETING AT LEAST 2 OF THE FOLLOWING MEASURES:
Assignment Completion: Completes assignments on a consistent basis (at least 50 percent of assignments)
Content and Skills: Demonstrates understanding of concepts or application of skills on assignments turned in through grades, scales or other rubrics
Engagement: Consistently engages by attending scheduled teacher check-ins, ongoing communication with the teacher, or other activities, such as discussion boards or digital classroom activities
Teacher Professional Judgment: Based on the body of evidence and a holistic view of a student’s performance within the context of the circumstances caused by the pandemic, when it benefits the student
We want to remind families 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 will discuss and approve a final plan at its May 12, 2020, business meeting. The meeting will be broadcast live on the MCPS website (www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org) and on MCPS-TV (Comcast 34, Verizon 36 and RCN 89). We will provide an update to the community once the Board takes final action.
Marking Period 4 Grading for Elementary School
Letter grades will not be assigned for the 4th Marking Period. The emphasis will be on engaging students in learning experiences and connecting with as many students as possible. To ensure students are progressing and meeting learning objectives, we will:
- Provide students with the opportunity to participate in a variety of learning experiences
- Follow up with students and their parents/guardians on identified areas of concern
- Engage students in academic and social-emotional work
- Provide teachers with information so that when students return to school, they will know which skills to work on, and how to involve them in learning at the next grade level
Science experiences for students and families will be available in myMCPS classroom starting the week of May 4, 2020. Additional science experiences will be made available for families the week of May 11, 2020. The science experiences are designed to be extensions of learning for students and families.
Monitoring Student Engagement
MCPS is implementing a comprehensive student engagement monitoring program that includes multiple data sources, and mobilizes staff and resources across the district to meet individual student and family needs. The MCPS student engagement plan has three phases—analyzing and tracking individual student engagement at the school and central office level; creating outreach and case management action plans to address student needs; and analyzing and quantifying the quality of student engagement. It is important to note that engagement in our Continuity of Learning program can happen in a number of ways. Students and parents/guardians (on behalf of students) are connecting with teachers through email, telephone, text and paper-packet materials. Ensuring all students are accounted for in the engagement data is critical. Visit our Continuity of Learning webpage for more information.
Continuity of Learning Plan for MSDE
All school districts in Maryland were required to submit a Continuity of Learning Plan to the Maryland State Department of Education by April 24, 2020. The MCPS Continuity of Learning Plan describes our current state and will be updated regularly to reflect enhancements to the learning plan based on feedback and data analysis. Please visit this link to view the most up-to-date Continuity of Learning Plan.
In Case You Missed It:
Virtual Discussion on Remote Learning in MCPS
MCPS staff held a virtual discussion on April 27, covering a variety of topics and answering questions from the community about Phase II of online learning in MCPS. If you were unable to tune in, you can watch this important conversation here.
Parent/Community Volunteers and In-Session Tutoring
MCPS sincerely appreciates the outpouring of support from our parent and community volunteers, as well as external tutors. While these volunteers have supported the needs of our students under the supervision of MCPS staff during normal operations, our teachers and administration must now focus on supporting students during remote learning. Volunteers and tutors in support of our online instruction are not permitted through the remainder of this school year. This effort is made to protect our staff and students (and volunteers) regarding issues of clearance and compliance. Any MCPS community member who wishes to volunteer is welcome to reach out to any of the non-profit organizations listed on the Montgomery County Volunteer Center (www.montgomeryserves.org) website. Many of these organizations support the needs of students and families. We look forward to being able to welcome our volunteers back into our buildings soon.
Family Violence Awareness and Prevention
Montgomery County has launched a new Family Violence Awareness and Prevention Campaign, designed to support and inform county residents who are experiencing family violence during the stay-at-home order. The Montgomery County Family Justice Center (FJC) remains open throughout the pandemic and continues to provide services. The FJC can be reached by telephone at 240-773-0444 or by email at email@example.com. The Montgomery County Crisis Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be reached at 240-777-4000.