Hill said CTE officials are working hard to make the program more accessible to all students. Part of her presentation entailed outlining the numerous career education options that are available throughout Charles County Public Schools (CCPS), and also changes to the application process for the coming school year.
As for student services, Hill said the board received an update on the evolving roles of school counselors and psychologists, the mediation center, community conferences, bullying and the next steps in the delivery of services.
“This year, we retrained and re-screened all of our substitute teachers. We are closely monitoring our substitute pool to determine how well our current model is meeting school needs,” she said. “We have considered the possibility of outsourcing substitute services through a third-party vendor. But at this time, we have decided to stay with our current model. We will continue to consider all of our options as we begin the budget planning process for [fiscal year] 2020.”
According to Hill, CCPS received a $2.7 million literacy grant to enhance reading instruction. Deputy Superintendent Amy Hollstein and her team spoke about how the grant is putting a focus on third-grade readers and also helping teachers screen children more effectively for reading problems.
In other news, Hill said she will be engaging more with students this school year, starting with elementary and high school student advisory councils this month and a middle school advisory group in November. She will also meet with elementary, middle and high school teachers to learn about their successes, challenges and ideas.
“I would like to address misconceptions recently aired during a Fox 5 report on CCPS absentee rates,” said Hill before she concluded her update. “The report didn’t tell the whole story about what we are doing in CCPS in regards to student attendance and graduation. The report failed to point out that CCPS attendance rates are above the state average at all three levels — elementary, middle and high school.”
“It also failed to recognize that last spring, we initiated an outside audit to review our attendance regulations, record keeping, grades and graduation rate to ensure our programs for students with high absentee rates are instructionally sound and rigorous,” Hill continued. “Most importantly, the report failed to recognize the extraordinary efforts of teachers, school counselors and other staff at the school and district level to get students in class and caught up instructionally. All of this information was provided to the [Fox 5 News] reporter by our staff, but not shared in the story. … I did not commit my career to public education to watch children fail. Our job, as educators, is to support each child’s effort to learn and complete school and we will continue to do that in a rigorous and credible way.”
The Fox 5 report alleged that students who were missing numerous days of attendance at school were being allowed to graduate despite the school system’s set policy about attendance and graduation requirements.
According to Hollstein, CCPS currently offers 28 high school completer programs which are composed of 10 four-year programs, 12 three-year programs and six twoyear programs.
Four-year programs include construction design and management, graphic communications, and information technology networking and cyber security. Three-year programs include electrical construction, welding technologies, cosmetology, culinary arts and the Teacher Academy of Maryland. Two-year programs include career research and development, the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, interactive media and the Academy of Health Professions.
Last school year, Hollstein said data showed that more than 3,820 students enrolled in CTE courses, about 43 percent of which were completers and nearly 67 percent for dual completers. In addition, she noted that CCPS currently stands at 42 percent in terms of the More Jobs for Marylanders Act, with the goal of hitting 45 percent by 2020.
In terms of access and equity, Hollstein said 17 CTE programs are offered at North Point High School and that students can apply as early as eighth grade. For comprehensive high schools, students can enroll for seven CTE programs through a course selection process instead of an application. The Robert D. Stethem Educational Center also offers six CTE programs, allowing students to apply once they reach 10th grade, according to Hollstein.
CTE programs are monitored by program advisory committees, Hollstein said, which meet three times a year for every program. These groups have an array of duties which include conducting curriculum reviews, supplying resources, identifying instructional and industry needs, as well as providing or overseeing mentorships, guest speakers, guest judges, student inter views and work-based learning opportunities.
Another group that Hollstein said helps keep CTE programs up to date is the local advisory council, which also meets three times a year to oversee CTE as a whole. This group is responsible for marketing, determining workforce needs and finding ways to support program advisory committees.
Hollstein encourages CCPS students to choose CTE because the program provides industry-related certifications and transcripted credits and articulation agreements; promotes networking through student organizations; and offers a guidance manual for the Maryland Technical Skills Assessment.
Student services update
Supervising school psychologist Mike Blanchard said CCPS expanded psychology services because there needs to be an emphasis on direct delivery and behavioral consultation, and the need for crisis response continues to increase. School psychologists are not heavily involved in many schoolbased teams and initiatives, but they are also required to be multi-faceted and serve as both an administrative and mental health resource.
When it comes to expanding staffing, Blanchard reported that from 2010 to 2018, there was a 65 percent growth in risk/threat assessments