Prince George's County public schools opened their doors today for the 2011-2012 school year. Nearly 127,000 students are attending 199 elementary, middle, and high school sites, as well as early childhood centers, special centers, vocational schools, and public charter schools.
"Staff have been working tirelessly over the summer months to prepare for the first day of school," said Dr. William R. Hite, Jr., Superintendent of Schools. "Crews have been sprucing up school grounds and completing maintenance projects, educators have been honing their skills and preparing classrooms, and central office staff have been providing ongoing support behind the scenes."
The school system has seen a steady trend in student gains on state assessments over the past five years. Although the district has been impacted by revenue cuts at both state and county levels, raising student achievement and ensuring that every child succeeds in the classroom will continue to be the primary focus for the upcoming school year.
New initiatives for the school year include:
New Middle College
In partnership with Prince George's Community College (PGCC), the school system opened the Academy of Health Sciences at PGCC this summer. The Academy is the first middle college high school in the state of Maryland. The first class consists of 100 ninth-graders, who were selected based on their teacher's recommendations and their interest in the field of health sciences. A class will be added each school year until full enrollment of approximately 400 students in grades 9-12 is achieved. Students participating in the Academy will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree.
New Public Charter Schools
This year, the school system will open three new public charter schools: Chesapeake Math and IT Public Charter in Laurel; Imagine Andrews Public Charter located on Andrews Air Force Base; and Imagine Foundations II Public Charter, housed in the previously-vacant Morningside Elementary School facility.
Student Run Bank at Parkdale High School
This summer, ten Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) students from Parkdale High School participated in the Capital One Student Banking Program in Newark, New Jersey, to prepare to operate a student-run bank in their school. Students were selected for the program through a competitive essay and interview process. The bank at Parkdale is one of four student-run banks in the nation, and will provide an opportunity for students to learn about the key concepts of financial markets and institutions, as well as expand their understanding of finance beyond their personal budgets. The student-run banks are also designed to provide life-skills training, mentoring opportunities, and provide mainstream banking.
Common Core Standards
MSDE is currently in the process of developing the Common Core Curriculum Standards and Framework for English/language arts and mathematics in grades K-12. This summer, more than 6,000 educators from across the state took part in the Educator Effectiveness Academies, the state's largest-ever professional development program. The training was designed to introduce teachers to the draft core curriculum and the State's vision for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, and to receive feedback from the teachers. The new curriculum will be introduced later this year.