MCEF conducts its work in a number of initiatives which contribute to our goal of de-tracking, providing a high quality education to all students.
Our current major focus is an effort - in collaboration with the Equity in Education Coalition of Montgomery County - to end the practice of sending out letters to parents of students about to enter grade 3 stating that their children are "Gifted and Talented" (or not). The letter is a direct result of the Grade 2 Global Screening (G2GS) process that MCPS continues to employ, despite its negative effects. The campaign (to end the practice of including the "Label" in this letter) is a focussed extension of our longstanding "No Labels, No Limits" campaign. We are currently presenting explanatory materials about the negative aspects of the labelling letter to community groups, churches, etc. As the Board of Education (BoE) completes its consideration of proposed revisions to Policy IOA (Gifted and Talented Education), our "No Labels" campaign will encourage multiple organizations and community members to contact the BoE and express their concerns.
If you would like to help with this campaign, you can access some useful tools by clicking here.
PAST & FUTURE
The sections below will give you some sense of other MCEF activities that were emphasized in the past and/or will become our main focus once efforts to End the Labeling have born fruit.
Policy Practice and Pizza Forums: Our current flagship offering to the education community are monthly Best Practice and Policy Breakfasts that bring together policy makers and influencers with cutting edge educational equity experts on such topics as enriched and accelerated instruction for all children, differentiated instruction and high stakes assessments. With the right people in the room, new courses can be charted on the spot. Our host and partner for each Forum is the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA). Click on Events for specific dates or click on Contact Us and ask to get our Forum announcements. The Forums are held at the MCEA Conference Center, 12 Taft Court in Rockville, Maryland. We hope to see you there for Policy, Practice and Pizza.
To see a list of recommendations from one of our Forums for what is needed to provide a high quality education to all elementary school students, click here.
De-Tracking Initiatives: Our core de-tracking work involves a number of initiatives. We focus on three critical components of a high quality education for all students : 1) We are working to stop MCPS from labeling students “gifted” or “not gifted”, as well as ending the MCPS practice of Grade 2 Global Screening, where labeling tracking often begins; 2) encouraging and expanding MCPS staff development in Differentiated Instruction as a primary method for bringing high quality education to all and ending tracking; and 3) Eliminating the Maryland High School Assessments (HSAs) as graduation requirements and replacing them with appropriate performance-based assessments.
Ending Labeling of Students: MCEF has a standing seat on MCPS’ Accelerated and Enriched Instruction Advisory Committee (AEIAC) where we keep an eye on gifted and talented education policy and practice within MCPS. The committee is comprised of representation of parent groups from around the county, including the MCCPTA, GTA and the NAACP Parents’ Council. The committee’s purpose is to give advice to the AEI department, which wants to expand opportunity and update the 30 year old gifted and talented policy to do so.
Promoting Teacher's Professional Development in Differentiated Instruction: While MCPS moving to end labeling, it becomes increasingly important to pave the way for differentiated instruction, an effective alternative to tracking, While there is already substantial agreement among leading education experts that differentiated instruction is an appropriate direction, it will take a well planned initiative to help teachers get the proper professional development to acquire these advanced techniques. MCEF is in the beginning stages of organizing a year long field study to determine the resources necessary to ensure all MCPS staff have the skills they need to help all students reach their potential.
Initiative to Replace the HSA: We are working with a team of people from around the State of Maryland to modify the use of the HSA and create an additional focus on Performance-based Assessments; we are being assisted by Monty Neill of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), a national organization fighting the overuse of standardized tests. The Montgomery County Education Association is a key partner with us, in addition to the Maryland NAACP and the Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers - LAYC. The goal is to change state policy on this crucial issue with a three point program: using the HSA as an end of course exam counting 20% of the course grade; adding state approved “authentic” assessments that really measure what students learn; and making school systems accountable for preparing students.