Baldrige → In the Classroom
To achieve the MCPS goal of preparing all students for the rigors of college and 21st century careers, everyone from the superintendent to the youngest student in the school system must be an active participant. That is especially critical inside the school building. To successfully apply Baldrige principles in the classroom requires active engagement of students in the teaching and learning process—and guiding them to take ownership of their own learning.Sherwood Elementary School provides an excellent example of Baldrige principles at work in the classroom.
At Sherwood, every student has specific, academic goals. Working closely with their teachers, students set those goals and then track them, on a daily basis, in individual “data notebooks.” On any given day, students at Sherwood can report exactly how they are performing in reading and math. Teachers meet with students weekly to review data notebooks and provide feedback on their progress.
The notebooks also are an important communication tool between Sherwood staff members and parents. Students take their notebooks home regularly for parents to review progress and to help them reflect on what they can do to help their child reach his or her academic goals.
Teachers and administrators have created numerous ways to ensure students have a stake in setting the ground rules and culture of each classroom. Each fall, teachers lead students through a process to establish guidelines and expectations for how their classroom will operate—making the “rules” those of the class and not just the teacher. To keep instructional time focused on academics, every classroom includes an “issue bin,” which students use daily to ask questions and let teachers know about personal issues that may affect their performance. Teachers review submissions daily and decide to meet with students individually, or, if warranted, to call a class meeting to address a larger problem.
To ensure quality instruction in the classroom, MCPS has developed a highly-effective professional growth system for teachers, as well as a rigorous evaluation process that focuses on helping educators improve their practice. All novice and struggling teachers receive intensive mentoring from their peers who are veteran master educators.
Most teachers hired by MCPS participate in a Baldrige Quality Academy and receive training in how to apply process management principles and strategies for student engagement in their classrooms. The academies have trained more than 7,000 teachers in four years.
At Sherwood, a Baldrige leadership team—comprising teachers, support staff, administrative staff and parents—meets monthly to create schoolwide action plans and review data to gauge progress toward those goals. Whether it is setting a goal of improving Sherwood’s writing program or increasing the academic performance of its English language learners, the Baldrige leadership team plays an integral role in holding the school team accountable for delivering results.
Sherwood students, staff members, administrators and parents are directly involved in improving Sherwood’s academic and operational results, and the school is thriving. For example, 95 percent of Sherwood’s 4th graders scored proficient or advanced in reading on state exams in 2010, compared to 87.4 percent of 4th graders in Maryland. Year after year, Sherwood has consistently raised the bar to meet the rising academic benchmarks that state and federal mandates require.
Across the district, parents are a critical piece of the pipeline in moving all students toward academic success. To keep them directly connected to what their children are learning and understanding in their classes, all middle and high schools in MCPS provide access to Edline—a web-based system where teachers post assignments and where parents and students track progress throughout the semester.
Read about our academic record of success.