Third Generation study groups' recommendations

February 05, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |

About 100 volunteers have been meeting since last fall to study ideas that would provide more educational opportunities for Washington County Public Schools' students.

Following is a brief look at each of the study groups' recommendations based on information in the 260-page report and presentations at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting.

The full report was expected to be available today at the school system's home page at A video of the school board meeting is available under the "school board" tab.

Renzulli learning

Incorporate the Renzulli learning strategy at elementary, middle and high school levels.

Students with sincere interests in particular topics or problems would learn to think, feel and act like practicing professionals as they studied their topics. Students would develop creativity, leadership skills, collaborative abilities and critical thinking.

The study group recommended phasing in the program over four years, starting with Clear Spring schools.

Joseph Renzulli is director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, according to

STEM programs

Expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs throughout elementary, middle and high schools; and develop a new STEM high school.

The group looked at biotechnology, biochemistry and biophysics.

Short-term recommendations included a science and math program at Smithsburg High School that could partner with Hagerstown Community College and the former Fort Ritchie, which the report states is exploring the possibility of a biotechnology firm moving in there.

Also, explore partnerships in the community to offer more internship opportunities for students.

A long-term recommendation noted several existing programs fall under the STEM umbrella and could fit into a new high school.

Last November, Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said she was optimistic the future East End high school will be a STEM school, but acknowledged that decision remains up in the air.

Transportation academy

Establish a Transportation Academy with instruction in diesel mechanics and transportation logistics and management.

The school system could partner with Hagerstown Community College and an aviation institute.

Junior ROTC

Establish a Junior ROTC program in a county high school.

Such programs teach citizenship, leadership, character, critical thinking, respect for self and others, and offer opportunities for college credits.

Empower students

Empower students to become innovative, responsible and engaged citizens, to include looking at leadership, Junior Achievement, entrepreneurship and student serving learning.

This would involve adopting leadership programs for elementary students, embedding Junior Achievement programs into existing middle-school curriculum and adding an entrepreneurial program at the high-school level.

Junior Achievement programs show students how to make and manage wealth, create jobs and apply entrepreneurial thinking, according to


Expand the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to middle schools.

AVID is a college readiness program for middle and high school students designed to encourage more students to attend a four-year college. The program focuses on the middle-level learner, one who might be the first in their family to go to college.

AVID is now at North Hagerstown, South Hagerstown and Williamsport high schools.

Recommendation is to expand the program to Northern Middle, Western Heights, Springfield and E. Russell Hicks middle schools, which feed into high schools.

International Baccalaureate

Expand the International Baccalaureate program, currently only at North Hagerstown High School, to two more high schools and one middle school.

IB's mission is to develop intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live and work in a rapidly globalized world.

Recommendation is to expand the IB program to South High, Boonsboro High and Western Heights Middle schools.

Magnet program

Establish an arts magnet program at Northern Middle School and develop a long-range plan to create a comprehensive school for the arts for grades six through 12.

There is an elementary arts magnet program at Fountaindale elementary and a high school program at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, but none at the middle school level.

The long-term goal is to combine an arts magnet middle school with the Ingram school.

STEM in Spanish

Establish a kindergarten to fifth-grade STEM, dual-immersion Spanish program; provide incentives to content teachers who earn English as a Second Language certification; create English Language Learners magnet schools at a high school and middle school; and pursue development of a SEED elementary school.

A bilingual teacher would use Spanish to teach a curriculum driven by science, technology, engineering and math.

Create English Language Learners (ELL) magnet middle and high school programs with a newcomer program for students who have recently arrived in the U.S.

Recommendation is to open the third SEED Foundation school in the U.S. A SEED school is a college-prep public boarding school that targets high-poverty, high-minority areas.

Technical offerings

Expand course offerings to prepare students for 21st century technology careers and add courses for 10th-graders at the technical high school.

The group suggested restyling tech high or adding a new wing that would have tech areas with state-of-the-art labs and equipment.

Another suggestion calls for adding more Advanced Placement courses and adding new or revamped programs for aviation maintenance, diesel mechanics, biomedical engineering, robotics, and green architecture and construction technologies.

Arts, engineering

Expand arts and engineering course offerings and opportunities in middle schools; and provide specialized tracks for high school students.

An elective course at all middle schools would focus on five areas of arts and engineering.

High school students would choose three of five specialized tracks to explore, with each offered at a different high school. The group recommended specialty courses in manufacturing processes; digital arts/media and graphic design; computer animation and modeling; sensors, motors, and human machine interfaces; and introduction to computer-aided design and manufacturing.

Students with disabilities

Provide more opportunities for students with disabilities.

Expand job coaching opportunities for disabled students by developing more partnerships with businesses, agencies and organizations to provide more opportunities for disabled students to learn on-the-job skills.

Create an innovative elementary alternative school to help young students with conflict resolution, social skill development and anger management so they can succeed in school. As a result, students would be more likely to remain in school rather than need more costly nonpublic placements.

Expand the birth-to-5 intervention program to significantly reduce early learning deficits.

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