School year off to a good start
I am pleased to report that last week’s school opening was exceptional! Weeks of preparation resulted in school buildings that were clean, safe, and welcoming. Bus drivers, cafeteria, custodial, health room, and front office staff welcomed students with smiles. Teachers, instructional support staff, and administrators focused on building relationships, providing a nurturing learning environment, and ensuring that every single student had what he/she needed for a strong start to the school year. As my Executive Team and I greeted students, families, and employees, we counted our blessings for the privilege to be a part of a school community laser-focused on supporting students.
Last week, I heard from many parents who had several positive comments about the smooth start to the school year. I also communicated with some parents who had concerns about issues with the dissemination of laptops. I would like to assure parents that students in grades 3–12 will be provided laptops in the same manner that has occurred over the last few years in Queen Anne’s County Public Schools. Some families expressed concerns over the possibility of being charged fees for damage to laptops that was not caused by their child. The fact is that the laptops and cases are a few years old and will not be in “like new” condition. Parents are not expected to pay for normal wear and tear to laptops or cases. When laptops, power cords, or cases have been lost, parents have been asked to pay the replacement cost. This fee will be reflected on your PowerSchool account.
As I research concerns centered on laptops, I have learned that even though it is permissible, QACPS has not been successful in recovering fees for damages. However, it has not been the practice of QACPS to withhold laptops due to unpaid charges for damages. Moving forward, if your child has received a laptop, which is damaged (with the exception of normal wear and tear), please return it to your child’s school for repair. To the degree that loaner laptops are available, your child will receive a loaner until the original laptop has been repaired. We have one more school year until the end of our term for the laptops and are researching options that will allow QACPS to continue our 1:1 initiative while ensuring that consideration is given for maintenance and upgrades just as consideration is given for educational benefits when making decisions about the value of our investment in technology devices.
If you have not had an opportunity to review student performance on PARCC assessments for 2016-17, please visit the QACPS website. We celebrate our status as No. 1 in the State for middle school English Language Arts (ELA) and for ranking among the state’s top performing school districts for ELA grades 3-8 and ELA grade 10. I would also like to call to your attention the following notable accomplishments:
• In 2nd grade, 88.2 percent of students scored Proficient or Advanced in mathematics.
• District-wide mathematics performance showed increases in the percentage of students in grades 3, 4, 5, and 7 that scored at the two highest performance levels (PL 4 and 5) with three schools narrowing the gap for African American students, five schools narrowing the gap for students who receive free or reduced priced meals, and eight schools narrowing the gap for students receiving special education services.
• Seventy-four percent (74 percent) of the graduating class of 2017 completed at least one AP, Honors, or Dual Enrollment class, which includes a 10 percent increase in students receiving free or reduced priced meals.
My gratitude is offered to all who contributed to ensuring a smooth start to the school year. Let’s all commit to “keeping the main thing the main thing” meaning that our work and energy is focused on providing the best educational experience for every single student, regardless. DR. ANDREA KANE Superintendent of Schools