Live chat with Board of Ed members

JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown, Donna Hanlin, Mike Markoe

JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown, Donna Hanlin, Mike Markoe

September 20, 2006

Board of Ed officials JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown and Donna Hanlin will be our Live Chat guests today starting at 1:00 pm and ending at 2:00 pm. Questions or comments can be submitted by clicking here before and during the chat. Or send an email to:

Tom: So far two elementary schools have been restructured with rehired teachers earning an extra $5,000 for 90 hours work.

What are the criteria for deciding what and when a school needs restructuring?

Donna and JoEtta: The schools that have thus far been restructured in Washington County were restructured as a proactive measure after examining trends in state student achievement data. Based upon the negotiated agreement between the Washington County Teachers Association and the Board of Ed, a joint committee is appointed by the superintendent to review the recommendations for restructuring a school or schools. This appointed team reviews information including achievement data to decide what schools should be restructured and when.


Parent in WC: Why are so few students in Washington County taking the SAT tests compared to the other counties in Maryland, and why are the scores for Washington County below the state average when they should be much higher? Haven't the college bound students in Washington County been left behind?

Donna and JoEtta: While the SAT is not directly related to the requirements of No Child Left Behind, this is an important initiative in the Washington County Master Plan. We are not only interested in preparing our students to graduate from high school but also to prepare students for the future. Therefore, we do strive to provide students with as many options and opportunities as possible; one of which is taking the SAT in preparation for college entrance. We have many initiatives in place to encourage students to take the SAT, one of which is free access to the College Board's online SAT prep course. For more information, please read the Herald-Mail Editorial page on September 21, 2006.

Moderator: How has the No Child Left Behind Act changed the way the school system operates?

Donna and JoEtta: No Child Left Behind is a federal law that was adopted in 2001. The law emphasizes high expectations for all students focusing specifically on achievement in reading and mathematics for all students. The law requires states to establish standards and specific goals for student achievement, based upon the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum (VSC). Each school system must achieve adequate yearly progress (AYP) on state goals. Students are assessed in grades 3-8 and 10 in both reading and mathematics. Scores must be reported as advanced, proficient or basic.

The school system developed a 5-year comprehensive strategic plan called the Washington County Master Plan, which outlines three goals; peak performance, continuous process improvement and customer and stakeholder involvement and satisfaction. Our county budget is built or developed based upon the priorities as determined by the goals of the Master Plan. We have developed county assessments in reading and mathematics to measure progress on the VSC standards.

We focus on achievement data using a data management system whereby teachers can access up-to-date information for individual student progress in reading and mathematics. We have aligned all of our curriculum and instructional materials with the Maryland VSC.

Tom: People within and without the educational establishment now use the phrase "teaching to the test." Since all tests are a reflection of both the curriculum and the level of understanding for the student, when does a teacher not "teach to the test?"

Donna and JoEtta: As discussed in the last response, WCPS follows the VSC in the core subject areas. The VSC reflects what students at each grade level should know and be able to do. The Maryland State Assessments in reading and mathematics measure students' progress towards meeting the state standards. Therefore, it is essential that teachers constantly monitor students' progress through assessments that are aligned with the curriculum, in order to adjust instruction to meet the needs of each individual student.

Moderator: What can parents do to help the system comply with NCLB?

Donna and JoEtta: No Child Left Behind focuses upon closing the achievement gaps of students from varying backgrounds and cultures. One way that parents can help students to be successful in reaching proficiency in reading and mathematics is to read to and with their children. Parents should communicate with their child's teachers, stay informed about what their child is learning, and about their child's progress. Many schools offer parent informational programs designed to help parents enrich and support student learning at home.

Mark: Although the school system said that all school groups achieved AYP, how many groups did not actually achieve AMO and had to rely on the lower confidence interval in order to achieve AYP?

Donna and JoEtta: We compliment you on your knowledge and understanding of AYP, AMO and confidence bands. Unfortunately, we do not have that specific data with us today, however, you may access this information regarding Washington County's data on the state website,

If you need more information than can be gleaned from the website, you can contact out Testing and Accountability Co-ordinator, Bob Brown at

Donna and JoEtta: We appreciate the opportunity to chat with you and respond to questions regarding No Child Left Behind. Feel free to contact us for further information, and

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