Mary­land schools pur­sue cre­ative so­lu­tions for fall

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

On­line and blended learn­ing will in­deed play an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role in ed­u­ca­tion for Mary­land stu­dents in the fu­ture and it is al­ready suc­ceed­ing in some cases (“Schools reopen­ing: Here’s how Mary­land ju­ris­dic­tions are plan­ning for the fall amid the coron­avirus pan­demic,” July 23). One ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple is the grade 6-12 Col­lege Park Academy, a pub­lic charter school in Prince George’s County that of­fers a post-pan­demic model for mid­dle and high school ed­u­ca­tion across the state. CPA was founded in 2013 through a coali­tion of county, state and Univer­sity of Mary­land sup­port.

Stu­dents en­roll via lot­tery sys­tem and rep­re­sent di­verse racial and so­cio-eco­nomic back­grounds, as well as spe­cial needs/dis­abil­i­ties. CPA’s model al­lows for face-to-face and on­line learn­ing by pro­vid­ing a blend of a tra­di­tional class­room with on­line in­struc­tion.

About a third of the classes are com­pletely on­line with the rest taught on site by teach­ers us­ing on­line cur­ricu­lum. The on­line cur­ricu­lum opens up a wide range of cour­ses that oth­er­wise may not be avail­able at a typ­i­cal school.

CPA also of­fers ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties to pro­vide a well-rounded ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence. Par­ents, stu­dents, and faculty are gen­er­ally en­thu­si­as­tic about CPA’s ap­proach and re­sults.

They also ap­pre­ci­ated the fact that CPA didn’t miss a beat when class­rooms closed in March. Most of this year’s grad­u­ates are col­lege-bound and sev­eral have al­ready earned Univer­sity of Mary­land cred­its.

That’s just part of a de­vel­op­ing and pos­i­tive story for the fu­ture of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion in our state. While the cur­rent pan­demic has in­tro­duced se­ri­ous chal­lenges for school sys­tems, it has also cre­ated new op­por­tu­ni­ties for em­brac­ing tech­nol­ogy to im­prove ac­cess, in­no­va­tion and out­comes.

Here in the Univer­sity of Mary­land Col­lege of Ed­u­ca­tion, The Cen­ter for Ed­u­ca­tional In­no­va­tion and Im­prove­ment is work­ing to de­velop strong part­ner­ships be­tween lo­cal school dis­tricts and univer­sity re­searchers in or­der to solve the tough, real-world prob­lems con­fronting K-12 ed­u­ca­tion.

Our re­searchers are work­ing to iden­tify best prac­tices for ef­fec­tive and eq­ui­table re­mote in­struc­tion, and to un­der­stand the knowl­edge and skills that ed­u­ca­tors need to be suc­cess­ful with all stu­dents in vir­tual learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments.

We are col­lab­o­rat­ing with school sys­tem part­ners to pre­pare and sup­port teach­ers for ef­fec­tive re­mote/ blended ed­u­ca­tion. We are com­mit­ted to re­search that is re­spon­sive to the needs of our schools and dis­tricts — and be­yond.

Over­all, as The Sun’s edi­to­rial board notes, (“Smart peo­ple in Baltimore have good ideas for re­mote learn­ing; schools should lis­ten up,” July 23), per­fec­tion is al­ways elu­sive, but at the Univer­sity of Mary­land and other ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and in our coun­ties and dis­tricts, we will not set­tle for “good enough” in ed­u­cat­ing our stu­dents and fu­ture cit­i­zens.

Jen­nifer King Rice, Col­lege Park

The writer is dean of the Col­lege of Ed­u­ca­tion and pro­fes­sor of ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy at the Univer­sity of Mary­land Col­lege Park.

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