MCPS Prepares for Curriculum Change

MCPS Prepares for Curriculum Change

Rollout will occur in 70 schools next spring

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Dan Schere

Even though Montgomery County Public Schools hasn’t yet chosen its new curriculum provider for English and math instructional materials, school officials are already preparing for the change.

At the Montgomery County Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Scott Murphy and Niki Hazel, upper-level MCPS administrators who handle curriculum matters, gave a presentation updating members on the curriculum for elementary and middle school students.

Elementary and middle school teachers at 70 schools will be preparing to use the new materials during the spring of 2019 once a provider is chosen is January. Once a provider is chosen, he said, teachers will be able to view the instructional materials and have access to professional development.

“We seem to be in a different place than we were in the spring in terms of introducing materials,” he said.

Murphy said among the goals of the new curriculum will be that the materials support English-language learners and students with disabilities.

“We think this reflects what MCPS is looking for,” he said.

The curriculum replacement process began last spring, after a study by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy determined the school system’s self-designed Curriculum 2.0 did not meet federal Common Core standards that had been adopted by the Maryland State Board of Education. The selection process was put on hold for three months when MCPS officials learned that two administrators had taken jobs with one of the curriculum bidders. MCPS released a new request for proposals on Aug. 20.

With the process underway once again, stakeholder groups, which include parents, teachers, MCPS administrators and other community groups, have been involved in the selection of curriculum providers, with a list of finalists expected to be determined around November. Once the school board chooses a provider in January, the curriculum will be rolled out over three years at 136 elementary schools and 40 middle schools.

Board member Patricia O’Neill said during the meeting that she was pleased with the progress, particularly after the delay.

“There was a feeling when the plug was being pulled on the earlier RFP that we were treading water. I’m so pleased at the training that was done for our primary teachers,” she said.

Student board member Ananya Tadikonda said she wants to make sure the new English curriculum includes materials that better reflect the experiences of students of color.

“A lot of kids are not satisfied with how diverse the texts are,” she said. “What are we doing at MCPS to make sure we’re culturally responsive?”

Board members Jill Ortman-Fouse and Judith Docca both recommended MCPS keep a database of culturally relevant books and films as a guide for the future.

Superintendent Jack Smith, who was also at the meeting, said the curriculum changes will happen concurrently with the shift away from the statewide Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, which will be replaced with a new standardized test during the 2019-2020 academic year.

“By adopting this curriculum now, we should be completely in line with what the state changes the assessment to in 2020,” he said.

But this year, Smith said, PARCC is here to stay in Montgomery County.

“That is a long transition. Whatever it’s [the exam] called next year, it will be the PARCC items,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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