is Secondary School Reform?
School Reform is transforming the educational experience of all middle and high
school students to ensure they are provided with the skills and competencies
needed to compete in the 21st century.
purpose of the Secondary (6-12) Reform Plan is to design, implement, track, and
monitor curricular and instructional programs that move PGCPS substantially
forward in graduating all students college and workforce ready. All children
must be provided with educational options that best meet their needs, so that
they can achieve their fullest potential and make their greatest contribution
2. Why do
we need to reform grades 6-12?
are alarmed by this nation’s high dropout rates and low academic achievement of
many of our high school students. These problems disproportionately affect
disadvantaged young people, especially those who are African-American and
and here at PGCPS, our secondary schools face five major challenges: (1) creating
a personalized and orderly learning environment, (2) assisting students who
enter high school with poor academic skills, (3) improving instructional
content and practice, (4) preparing students for the world beyond high school,
and (5) stimulating change.
is developing a Secondary School Reform (SSR) Plan that will address these
challenges. There is an urgent need to transform our low-performing middle and
high schools into more responsive learning environments.
will we transform secondary education at PGCPS?
At PGCPS, the goal of Secondary School Reform
is to graduate every student college and career ready. To achieve this goal,
PGCPS will utilize three levers of change: (1) Raising Expectations; (2)
Expanding Opportunities; and (3) Enhancing School Experience.
Secondary School Reform based upon other model schools?
is being developed based upon researched best practices used in school
districts across the nation. The Secondary School Reform team reviews best
practices in grades 6-12 and determines how they might be implemented at PGCPS.
other school systems have implemented an Academy model?
school systems across the country have implemented the Academy model as a way
to improve the climate and culture of high schools and increase student
achievement. A few notable school
districts that have implemented this model are: Baltimore, New York City,
Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County.
does Secondary School Reform mean for our students now?
addition to making changes to our high school programs, SSR is engaged in other
efforts to raise student achievement. For instance, since August 2010,
students have been participating in a systemic student transition program. The
Transition Program for Middle and High Schools is an orientation program that
is being presented system-wide for rising sixth, seventh, and ninth grade
students that will be entering middle or high school for the first time. Our
goal is to support students by helping them to successfully transition to
middle or high school. This Transition Program begins the process of our
students becoming college and career ready graduates.
county middle and high schools will participate in this program in August 2012 during the transportation department's "school bus dry-run day". All schools will operate on a
three-hour early dismissal schedule. By providing this opportunity to students after teachers return to school on the "school bus dry-run day", we are able to provide students with an opportunity to get to know their new schools without transportation or staffing costs.
will there be changes to the high school programs?
ensure quality implementation, Secondary School Reform is using a phased-in
approach for implementing high school academies. Academies began to be implemented in SY 2011-2012 and will be completed by SY 2016-2017. Parent and student input have been used in determining academy interest.
is the timeline for implementation?
Career Academies will be phased-in over five years. Changes to high school
programming began in SY 2011-2012 and will be completed in SY 2016-2017.
9. Who is
responsible for developing the Secondary School Reform Plan?The Prince George’s County Board of Education hosted five
Bridges to Excellence Stakeholder Community Meetings to elicit public
perspectives and input regarding the school system’s secondary school reform
initiative. In May and June 2009, approximately 770 stakeholders participated
in the meetings. Attendees included parents, students, community leaders,
representatives from colleges and universities, economic organizations, and
major employers in Prince George’s County. The input from these Stakeholders
Meetings has guided the system’s work in secondary school reform.
The Prince George’s County Board of Education also hosted
four Phase 3 Community Forums between January and April 2010 for the purpose of
receiving input on high school programs.
The Division of Academics hosted Teacher Input Meetings for
the purpose of receiving input on the academies and SSR implementation in April
During the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, the Division of
Academics hosted a monthly Parent Advisory Team (PAT), where parents, community
members, and school-based staff provided input into the on-going work of
SSR. This group reviewed work products,
provided recommendations for implementation, and distributed information to
their school and community networks. The
PTA/PTSA presidents or their designees were invited each month to the Parent
Advisory Team. Moreover, all parents,
staff, and community members were welcome to attend these meetings. Parents and community members continue to
provide feedback during the 8th grade parent nights held at middle and high
schools across the county.
Since fall 2009, a team of PGCPS staff members began working
to develop a comprehensive Secondary School Reform Plan based upon the input
from the Stakeholders Meetings and researched best-practices for secondary
reform. The team is comprised of individuals from Academics, Accountability,
High School Consortium, Area Executive Directors, Student Services, Human
Resources, Business Management Services, and Middle and High school principals.
can I provide input on the Secondary School Reform Plan? What kind of direction can I provide as we continue to shape the Academies?
SSR Team welcomes participation in the development and implementation of the
Secondary School Reform Plan. There are several committees and forums in which
principals, teachers, and community members can participate. If you are interested in assisting with this extremely important work of the district, please contact the Secondary School Reform Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, principals, teachers, and parents will continue to be able to
provide their input via various online forums (e.g., website, surveys, blogs,
can parents become involved?
SSR Team welcomes participation in the development and implementation of the
Secondary School Reform Plan.
Parents and community members are welcome to provide
feedback during the 8th grade parent nights being held at middle and high
schools across the county. Please contact your middle or high school directly
to get the schedule for their 8th grade parent nights.
In addition, there will continue to be committees and forums
in which principals, teachers, and community members can participate. If you
are interested in assisting with this extremely important work of the district,
please contact the Secondary School Reform Team at (email@example.com).
Principals, teachers, and
parents can continue to provide their
input via various on-line forums (e.g., website, surveys, blogs, etc.)
will SSR be sustained if there is a change in leadership?
is being institutionalized at PGCPS through policy changes, budget allocations, and most importantly community and staff commitment to the program.
can I go for more information?
visit the SSR website at http://www1.pgcps.org/ssr for more information.
is the high school cluster model?
High schools will be divided into five (5)
clusters based upon geographic location (and other factors.) The academies
offered in each cluster is based upon feedback from parents, community members, school administrators and staff, and school facilities. This
model will enable students to have better access to high school programs.
meetings be held in each cluster?
January/February 2010, meetings were held in each cluster in order to receive
community feedback on Secondary School Reform. As Secondary School Reform is
implemented, additional meetings will be held in the community based on the
cluster structure. In addition, members of the Secondary Strategy Reform team have attended 8th grade parent nights at middle and high schools across the county throughout the school year.
High School Academies will be offered?
- Aerospace & Automotive Engineering
- Consumer Services, Hospitality & Tourism
- Graphic Arts, Media, & Communications
Education, & Public Service
all high school students have Career Academies?
once fully implemented all high school students will be in an Academy. They will select their academies in middle
many Academies will exist at each school?
will be an average of three (3) academies per school.
programs be equitable in each cluster?
SSR plan has been designed to have the same academies available in each cluster.
However, based upon community feedback, the academy/program offerings in each cluster
may not be identical in order to respond to community preference. A few academies and/or programs will be offered in the Northern and Southern
areas of the County, as opposed to each cluster, due to the expense of operating
a particular program. All programs will have the same entry criteria regardless
of cluster or school location of the program.
schools will get which programs?
high school academies are being implemented using a phased-in approach. Schools have been selected for particular academies based upon the school's proposal, community interest, staff capacity, and building capacity.
won’t some of the academies be replicated in all of the 5 clusters?
few programs will only be offered in the Northern and Southern areas of the
County, as opposed to each cluster, due to the expense of operating that
particular program (e.g., Visual and Performing Arts). All programs will have the same entry
criteria regardless of cluster or school location of the program.
9. What is the
relationship/difference between the Career Academies and CTE programs?Career academies
differ from traditional academic and vocational education because they prepare
high school students for both college and careers. Academics provide broad
information about a field such as health care, finance, engineering, media, or law.
They weave the themes into academic curricula that qualify students for
admission to four-year colleges or universities.
have found that students in career academies perform better in high school and
are more likely to continue into postsecondary education, compared to similar
students in the same schools. After assessing the most extensive, longitudinal
study yet on academies by MDRC, William Raspberry, of the Washington Post,
succinctly wrote, "The magic, apparently, is in the combination of linking
academics to job prospects and the intensive involvement of adults."
the boundaries change?
is not currently contemplated that high school boundaries will change. Instead,
high schools are divided into five (5) clusters based upon geographic
location (and other factors). The programs offered in each cluster are based upon parent and community feedback. This model enables students to
have better access to high school academies.
11. Is SSR
an effort to move kids out of their boundary school?
is not about getting kids out of their boundary school. It’s about getting kids interested in going
to school. Students will stay in school
if they are involved in a program that is of interest to them and if they have
meaningful relationships with their teachers.
The Academy model provides students with relevant coursework and a personalized
all students that live within the boundary of a cluster attend a school within
all students will attend a school within their cluster with the exception for
students that are enrolled in one of the Science & Technology academies or
Visual and Performing Arts.
under-enrolled schools be the first to get academies?
The high school academies are being implemented
using a phased-in approach. Schools have been selected for academies based upon the school’s proposal,
community interest, staff capacity, and building capacity.
programs be moved from one school to another?
are some instances where a program may be moved from one school to
another. Some programs will be or have
been moved. Academies are being implemented in schools based on expressed
parent, student, community, teacher, and school administrator input. To ensure
quality implementation, Secondary School Reform is using a phased-in approach
for changing high school programs. Program changes implementation began in SY
2011-2012. All academies will have the same entry criteria regardless of school
location of the academy.
students receive college-credit?
Many of the academies are designed to provide students with the opportunity to earn college
students complete a culminating project?
Yes, high school
students will be expected to complete internships, senior projects, and/or portfolios that
reflects their work from grades 9 – 12.
is the infrastructure plan to implement SSR (i.e. training, facilities,
materials, and resources)?
implementation of each high school's academies will vary. The training, facility
modifications, materials and staffing are based upon the requirements of
each program with the academy.
there be a coordinator for each academy?
teachers have been identified as Academy Coordinators for SY 2011-2012 to
assist with academy planning for their school and receive additional pay for
serving this function. Schools implementing Academies in SY 2012-2013 are in
the process of doing the same.
19. Explain Advisory
Boards and the school's role in creating them.Advisory boards
provide students with a robust, enriching academy experience related to
particular career fields. Advisory boards bridge schools and communities
and are key components of the academy model. Corporate personnel,
representatives from institutions of higher learning, representatives from community-based non-profits, local and
regional government representatives, and small-business owners offer vast and
essential resources that will complete the structure of our career-themed
advisory boards also review curriculum, provide experiential learning
opportunities and provide professional development.
Members of each school with a related academy are part of the advisory boards.
These members represent their schools on the advisory boards.
schools in the Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) Cluster have program changes?
The SLC Cluster will continue to operate
according to its implementation plan and grant requirements.
21. In the
proposed high school cluster model, what will be the transportation policy be
for students participating in high school programs and students concurrently
is anticipated that students will be provided transportation to academies located within their cluster.
will small schools be impacted by Secondary School Reform?
The high school academies are being implemented
using a phased-in approach. Small
high schools will undergo the same process for academy implementation as
all other high schools. Schools will be selected for programs based upon the
school’s proposal, community interest, staff capacity, and building capacity.
Oaks, Croom and Annapolis Road Academy are not part of the clusters, why? How do these schools fit in? Are these schools being phased out? Will students stay at these schools versus
going back to their schools?
Alternative Schools will remain open for students. The Alternative Schools such as Tall Oaks and
Croom are not adopting the Career Academy Model. In fact, these schools will develop their own
strategies for addressing the needs of their populations. It is our belief that alternative should mean
alternative. That means, our alternative
schools should not look and feel like our comprehensive schools.
Program Selection Questions
will be the number of seats available in each program?
number of seats available will vary based upon the requirements of each program.
middle school parents and students be informed about the high school programs?
During SY 2009-2010, high school PTA/PTSA
presidents were invited to serve on the SSR Parent Advisory Team. In
SY 2010-2011, this invitation was extended to middle school PTA/PTSA
presidents or their representatives as well. Information is also being provided
to all parents on SSR through various media, such as our website and
Currently, members of the Secondary School Reform Strategy Team present at
middle school 8th grade nights, PTA meetings and high school interest nights to
inform parents and students about the Career Academies. Team members and
guidance counselors also present to 8th grade students.
procedures are in place at the middle schools (before registration) to inform
parents/students of the Academy Opportunities?
Secondary School Reform staff attend the
8th grade (high school) nights at our middle schools. The staff also participated in the PGCPS showcase of schools and in other
community events. Presentations at schools and community events are ongoing. In addition, marketing
materials will be sent to each middle school counselor.
can students provide input on their programs of interest?
SY 2009-2010, a survey on high school program options was provided online. Over
2,000 students completed the survey and provided their input on the programs
they would like to see offered in our high schools. The survey results were
used to re-design PGCPS’ high school programs. Students are welcome to give feedback about their academy to their teachers, academy coordinators, and guidance counselors.
will the admissions criteria be for the high school programs?
admissions criteria for each program are determined by the Department of Curriculum and
Instruction. Most programs will have open-enrollment. All programs will have
the same entry criteria regardless of cluster or school location of the
will students select their academy? When
will students select their academies?
As of SY2011-2012, students were able to enroll in an Academy if offered at their
boundary school. Students will be able
to sign-up in the Spring of 2011 for the upcoming year via the 9th grade course request form. Request forms can be obtained from the high school professional school counselor. If interest outnumbers available openings, student will be admitted through a lottery
process. It is currently contemplated
that once all of the Academies are implemented (projected Fall 2017), 8th grade
students will indicate their Academy preferences and be admitted through a
7. If my
first academy choice is offered out of my boundary school, will transportation be
SY12 and SY13, students will only be permitted to attend an academy if it is
offered at their boundary high school.
Transportation will be provided to their boundary school as usual.
8. If a
student is not accepted into their 1st or 2nd choice academy and is placed in
their 3rd choice, but not at their home school, will transportation be provided
for the student to attend?
Once the academies are fully implemented, it is
anticipated that students will be able to indicate their academy choices. A transportation plan for all of the
academies will be developed with our Transportation Department. Once a plan is in place, regardless of
whether a student receives their 1st or 3rd choice, the same
transportation procedure will apply.
9. Once admitted into an Academy, how should scheduling be completed?
Scheduling is done by the school scheduler and the guidance counselors. There are required courses that students must take at each grade level. Some academy courses require a prerequisite course and must be taken in a particular sequence.
10. Why must some Academy courses be taken in a particular sequence?
Some courses require prerequisites in math, science or
other elective courses. The course sequence has been carefully designed by the
Division of Academies in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Education,
our Advisory Boards and business partners, and with the use of scientific data.
You may view the Career Academy brochures with sample program planners on the
PGCPS website on the Career Academies page.
1. Will a
student be allowed to transfer from one academy to another?
can change their completers during their four years of high school. It is recommended that they do this in consultation with their professional school counselor.
allowed to transfer academies, do they have to transfer to an academy at their
current school or can they choose another school to attend?
present, a student will only be permitted to transfer between academies at
their boundary school. All program
transfers should be done in consultation with a professional school counselor. The professional school counselor will advise
a student whether or not he/she has sufficient time to complete a different
3. What is the Academy transfer process when a student transfers schools?
Transfer students must meet with their school
counselor to determine if they have adequate time to complete an academy
offered at their new school along with fulfilling their graduation requirements.
4. If a
student, currently in one academy, i.e. Global Studies, transfers (due to their parents
moving), from one high school to another high school that does not have the same academy what happens? Will the student be allowed to stay at his/her current high school? Will transportation
be provided? Will the student be required to transfer?
SY12 and SY13, if a student transfers from one high school to another that does
not have the same academy, then the student would transfer to their new boundary
school and enroll in whatever programs are available at that school. Transportation will not be provided to allow
the student to remain in their original high school. If a student is in good standing, current
practice allows 12th graders to finish at the prior school. However,
transportation becomes a parental responsibility. If a student relocates in a grade other than
12th and wishes to remain in their Career Academy, SSR and the Office of
Student Records and Transfers (OSRT) will evaluate the requests on a
will a student meet the graduation requirements when transferring from another
state (in the 12th grade) that does not offer academies? Will an exemption apply?
Career Academies are comprised of elective courses. They augment the graduation requirements, but
do not take the place of the graduation requirements. If a student transfers from another state,
they should consult with their professional school counselor about the credits
they need to graduate. If there is
sufficient room in the students schedule to complete a career academy, he/she should do so, but the first priority is assisting the student to graduate
6. What is the process for opting out of an Academy?
Students can opt out of an academy at the end of a school year by not enrolling in the academy course(s) for the subsequent year. Students in Career Academies have a schedule of academy courses that they are to complete.
Academic Quality Questions
1. How do
you ensure quality control of each program in each cluster?
The SSR Team will develop the measures to
determine the effectiveness of each program. These measures will be used to
monitor program quality.
the new programs be staffed with teachers with expertise in the program area?
Department of Curriculum and Instruction will identify the staff qualifications
for each program course. Staff teaching the program course must meet the
requirements as identified by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
there be equitable programs in all of the schools?
SSR plan has been designed to have the same programs available in each cluster.
However, based upon community feedback, the program offerings in each cluster
may not be identical in order to respond to community preference. It is
anticipated that a few programs will be offered in the Northern and Southern
areas of the County, as opposed to each cluster, due to the expense of
operating a particular program. All programs will have the same entry criteria regardless
of cluster or school location of the program.
does Common Core fit into the academies?
The Department of Curriculum and Instruction is developing a plan to align our entire curriculum in the core content areas with the common core standards. The same staff is responsible for developing
the career academy curriculum (which consists of all elective courses). Where appropriate, staff will infuse the
common core standards from the content areas into the academy curriculum. In addition, each school's academy team(s)
should be meeting regularly to discuss their students as well as how to
integrate their core courses with the academy courses.
the Academy model limit the number of electives for students?
Academy model focuses the electives that a student takes into a program of
study. By completing a program of study,
students will have the opportunity to have real-world experiences based on
their program, receive a certificate/license, and/or earn college credit. However, the structure does impact the
ability for students to explore other electives.
will the SSR changes impact standardized test scoring and improvements in
Through SSR students will have the opportunity
to participate in programs of study that match their interests. As a result,
students will be engaged in a rigorous program of study that prepares them for
the 21st century workforce.
7. What happens if a student fails an Academy course?
If a student fails a required Academy course, he/she may have an opportunity to take it the following school year. If the course is not a requirement for the Academy certification, the student may proceed to the next course. If he/she does not complete the required academy courses, the/she may not receive a Career Academy Certificate. As long as graduation requirements have been met, the student will still graduate.
are you going to hold school personnel accountable for the reforms to be
Career and Technology Education Office will be responsible for
monitoring high school programs to ensure the quality of implementation and
that the programs meet expected outcomes.
9. What support are schools given when they hit a 'bump in the road' while developing or overseeing their academies?
Schools are supported by the Secondary School Reform (SSR) Strategy Team. The team visits a different school every two weeks to get feedback from staff and address implementation concerns. If schools have more questions, they should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financial Impact Questions
are we going to pay for Secondary School Reform?
SSR Plan has been structured with a phased-in approach over five years. The
aspects of the plan that are of little or no cost have been implemented first.
For example, the Transition Program for Middle and High Schools (an orientation
program that is being presented system-wide for rising sixth, seventh, and ninth
grade students that will be entering middle or high school for the first time)
currently being offered as a part of SSR did not require system funding. By providing
this opportunity to students after teachers returned to school on the
“school bus dry-run day”, we were able to provide students with an opportunity
to get to know their new school without transportation or staffing costs.
2. How do
you reconcile these proposals with the recent budget cuts?
order to fund SSR, the implementation plan is structured with a phased-in
approach over five years. In addition, staff has discovered innovative ways to
provide students with additional support at little to no cost. Furthermore,
PGCPS has applied for, and will continue to apply for, applicable federal
grants to fund the SSR plan.
will later/higher cost Academies be funded?
capital improvement costs for the Academies are now included in the District’s
5-Year Capital Plan. Capital funding began in FY2011-2012. Operating
expenditures will be paid for from the General Fund. In consideration of current fiscal challenges,
the funding for SSR is being phased-in over five years.
Special Education Questions
are special education students (autism, CRI, intensive, co-teaching) being
considered in academies? Co-teaching and intensive classes are double periods
as well as Read 180. If a student is to
take at least one academy course during their 9th grade year, how will they be
able to take the course?
of our 9th graders take double period courses for a variety of reasons. In these instances, we have recommended school
staff to evaluate which non-required 9th grade courses could be taken in a
later year of high school. For example,
while students often take Foundations of Technology, Health and Physical
Education, and Fine Arts in 9th grade, students could take these courses in a
later year. This would allow them to fit
the 9th grade academy courses in their schedule.