On Monday, November 11, 2013, Superintendent Dr. Joshua Starr delivered his second State of the Schools address. The speech was given at the Music Center at Strathmore, with more than 750 people in attendance, including MCPS staff, parents, and community leaders. The address was delivered with the theme “Building Our Future Together.”
First, Dr. Starr reiterated the achievements of the 2013 school system. More than half of MCPS graduates earned sufficient, college-ready scores on at least one Advanced Placement exam, said Starr in his speech. This number, he emphasized, is nearly triple the nation-wide rate. The average SAT score in the county was 1648, which is among the highest of any large district in the nation. Furthermore, Dr. Starr’s 10 new Innovation schools – schools that starting in 2013 received intense support in designing and implementing innovative school improvement strategies – have made great progress. Watkins Mill High School, located in Gaithersburg, has seen graduation rates rise by 6.5 percent, while students receiving free and reduced-price meals saw a 13 percent increase in their graduation rate.
However, Dr. Starr also admitted that there was plenty of room for improvement.
SAT scores of African American and Hispanic students were 300 points lower than the scores of the white students within MCPS, and the gap is still growing. “We must innovate in order to respond to longstanding challenges and new opportunities– longstanding challenges such as eliminating the achievement gap; new opportunities such as new standards, new assessments, and a very different workplace that will demand very different skills from our students,” Starr said with regards to the gap.
In addition, Dr. Starr stressed that Montgomery County students should graduate with three core competencies: Academic Excellence, Creative Problem Solving, and Social Emotional Learning.
Overall, it has been a good year for Montgomery County Public Schools. Robert Frost Middle School was named a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School. According to U.S. News & World Report, MCPS schools currently comprise seven out of the top 10 public high schools in Maryland, with Winston Churchill High School in the lead.
Article by Jennifer Chen, MoCo Student staff writer