THE HUB - Feature Article

  • Dr. Arlotto Has Provided Skilled, Supportive Leadership Through Time of Big Change

    Posted by Melvin Edwards on 5/24/2018

    As our Board of Education considered the reappointment and, on May 16, approval of a new contract for Superintendent George Arlotto, I began to think about how I would characterize his first four years at the helm of Anne Arundel County Public Schools.

    I landed on three simple words: skilled, supportive leadership.

    Dr. Arlotto has overseen incredible growth in our school system, both in terms of the number of students and the number of programs we offer those students. In Dr. Arlotto’s first year as Superintendent, the 2014-15 school year, AACPS served 79,518 students. Next year we are projected to serve 84,494, an increase of nearly 5,000 students.

    We have completed the rollout of our final two middle school STEM magnet programs at Central and Lindale middle schools, and rounded out the high school magnet programs with the full development of the Bio-Medical Allied Health magnet program at Glen Burnie High School.

    At the elementary level, the innovative and highly successful Enhancing Elementary Excellence (Triple E) program – which offers cutting-edge educational opportunities to our youngest learners and affords elementary teachers with precious additional planning time – is now in place for nearly 14,600 students at 31 schools. We plan to add to that in the fall with the addition of nine schools in the Annapolis cluster, affording approximately 3,500 more students with this exceptional, creative outlet.

    Through it all, Dr. Arlotto has been a solid and steady rudder, steering the AACPS ship on sometimes choppy waters.

    While there is much more work to be done, we have seen progress in our quest to Elevate All Students and Eliminate All Gaps as well. Our graduation rate has risen nearly 1 full percentage point in the last four years, but the decrease in the gap between African-American and white students has nearly quintupled that, closing by 4.7 percentage points. 

    The percentage of second-graders reading at or above grade level, a key focus in our elementary curriculum, has risen by 5 percentage points since 2015, when we began Fountas and Pinnell diagnostics. The proficiency rate for African-American students, however, has risen by nearly 9 percentage points, and the gap between African-American students and white students has narrowed by 3.4 percentage points.

    At the high school level, the percentage of students with scores of 3 or higher on Advanced Placement exams has risen by more than 4 percentage points overall, with the gap between African-American and white students shrinking by more than 5 percentage points in that time.

    Dr. Arlotto has also been a stalwart through many changes that cannot be measured by mere numbers. He oversaw successful implementation of our Teacher-Principal Evaluation system, where all teachers and principals focus on the completion and fulfillment of data-driven Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) which are used in part to calculate their ratings. He has guided our school system through the onset of new College and Career Readiness requirements, a new state assessment program (PARCC) and newly approved state accountability system (ESSA), a new quarterly assessment structure, a new cum laude honors system recognizing thousands of graduates, several new curriculums and online assessments, and our focus on District 203, which embraces the philosophy that all AACPS schools and offices will employ equitable practices and provide a positive, welcoming place for all students, families, and employees to learn and grow.

    In addition to working closely with Board members, he has also forged critical working relationships with the County Executive, County Council, the City of Annapolis government, the county delegation to the General Assembly, and business and community groups. Those efforts have served our students well, and will continue to do so.

    At a time of much uncertainty in school systems across the state, Dr. Arlotto’s leadership has been calm, caring, consistent, committed, and compassionate toward our students, our employees, our parents, and our community. He is the right leader for our school system, and we are proud to have him on board for at least four more years.

     

    Julie Hummer is president of the Board of Education of Anne Arundel County. She can be reached at jhummer@aacps.org.

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  • Charter School Grant Could Mean More Open Seats in Anne Arundel County

    Posted by Tim Tooten, WBAL on 5/18/2018

    Maryland is set to give away millions of dollars to groups hoping to start or expand public charter schools.

    More than $17 million is coming to Maryland from the federal government. But, there are plenty of strings attached in order to cash in.

    Charter school grant could mean more open seats in Anne Arundel County

    The Monarch Global Academy in Laurel is one of five charter and contract schools run by the Children's Guild serving students in Anne Arundel County.

    The K-8 school has been in the spotlight lately. One of its teachers, Heather Carnaghan, was recently named county Teacher of the Year.

    "The most amazing thing about being in a charter school like this is the autonomy that we have to put together our curriculum, make choices for our students and make choices about our staff," Carnaghan said.

    Charter school operators and those hoping to start programs like Monarch Global Academy may qualify for one of five grants totaling, on average, $700,000. The money can be used to start up new schools, known as replication schools, or for school expansion.

    "I think when you think about charter schools, you're thinking about how to expand choice, and I think this is a huge incentive for the state to consider for each school district for charter operators," said Duane Arbogast, of the Children's Guild of Maryland.

    Charter schools have become popular in Anne Arundel County and have led to a waiting list for students hoping to find empty seats. Schools officials said that's not by accident.

    "We've had a great relationship with them. They offer another avenue of school choice for our students and their families, magnet programs and these kinds of things. Charter schools are another option for people as they look at the best education for their child," said Bob Mosier, spokesman for Anne Arundel County Public Schools.

    The state's new charter school grants program is a five-year program.

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  • Bates Middle Students Get Hands-on Oyster Lesson - Capital Gazette

    Posted by Melvin Edwards on 5/11/2018

    Bates Middle students get hands-on oyster lesson - Capital Gazette

    he Harbor Queen hovered near an oyster reef at the mouth of the Severn River Tuesday, as sixth-graders from Bates Middle School lined a rail at the stern.

    Each grabbed an oyster shell covered in baby oysters, or spat, and after a short goodbye poem chucked the tiny creatures into the water.

    The hope is the oysters will grow and filter water, helping to clean the Chesapeake Bay. The students were holding the future of the bay in their hands, volunteer Josh Schmidt said, and putting them on a sanctuary.

    The Bates students took a field trip Tuesday that was the final step in the Annapolis Maritime Museum and Park’s year-long Oyster Education Program.

    Chesapeake Bay Foundation scientists put reef balls laden with oyster spat into the Severn River on Wednesday — not to grow oysters, but to see if they might break up dead zones of low oxygen.

    Education Director Sarah Krizek said the program is focused on the Eastern oyster. In the winter, the museum goes out to four middle schools, where students build a model of the oyster and also complete a dissection. The museum raises baby oysters, and students stay connected with the spat during the year through a blog. Then, in the spring, it is time to plant oysters.

    On the boat Tuesday students also learned how to measure salinity and dissolved oxygen, calculated the approximate distance between City Dock and the reef, counted the average number of spat on a shell, and learned about the other organisms that make their home among oyster shells.

    Then the students traveled to the Ellen O. Moyer Park at Back Creek, the museum’s second campus, to hear from a Chesapeake Bay waterman, learn about the effects of different methods of oyster harvesting, and about how oyster reefs affect shoreline erosion.

    “We teach them that oysters are beneficial to the Chesapeake Bay for multiple reasons. They help to filter the water, they also serve as a buffer, they serve as a habitat, and they provide jobs for people,” Krizek said. “So we’re trying to teach them it’s not just one thing we’re looking at, it’s this ecological point of view, that everything is intertwined. And we also try to teach them they can do something too to make a difference.”

     
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