More than 900 guests entered the 2019 State of the Schools, hosted by The Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools, on March 20, by walking through the 2nd annual Learning Walk of Knowledge. The Learning Walk filled the concourse of Towson University’s SECU Arena with more than 30 demonstrations and interactive displays of BCPS student projects including 3D printing, filmmaking, aviation technology, automotive technology, math movement, Model United Nations, meteorology, robotics, health sciences, and a ukulele club.
Interim Superintendent Verletta White began her State of the Schools address by referencing the students featured on the Learning Walk as well as those who performed and served as greeters. “You can’t help but be inspired,” she said. “That feeling of possibility, of potential, and even of adventure, is what today is all about.”
Saying that she wanted to offer the audience “a realistic view of where we are and where we need your support,” White took time to highlight recent achievements for BCPS such as:
- The Class of 2018 graduation rate of 89.16 percent, which exceeds the state average by more than 2 points.
- Pinewood Elementary becoming the 25th Maryland Blue Ribbon School in BCPS.
- The launch of BCPS Works, offering expanded apprenticeship and internship opportunities through a partnership with the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development.
- The growth of Career and Technology Education programs, with 17,840 students now enrolled and 1,300 students participating in internships through CTE each year.
- Exceeding the state average on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment in 2017 and 2018, which is related to the launch of Conscious Discipline in PreKindergarten and the ability for the Baltimore County’s Infants and Toddlers program to close at least one outcome gap for nearly 60% of children served.
- Literacy interventions for elementary and middle school learners supported by a $1.75 million Striving Readers Grant.
- 90% of BCPS schools earning a 3, 4, or 5-star rating on Maryland’s new accountability system.
- The start of the county’s first P-TECH program at Dundalk High School, which provides students the opportunity to earn an AA degree along with their high school diploma and to receive skills training, mentoring, and paid summer internships with industry partners Alban CAT, KCI Technologies, Stanley Black & Decker, and Whiting-Turner.
- The launch of the Student Behavior and Discipline Council to review and revise current practices and policies.
- The launch of Baltimore County Cares for Kids, which allows students who qualify for reduced-price meals to eat at no cost to families.
- The expansion of the school resource officer program to provide services to elementary schools.
Noting that “good is not good enough,” White went on to describe challenges and plans to address them. “Math is an area of focus because student scores are flat, which may be impacting our SAT performance,” White said. In response, she announced an upcoming math audit to examine the alignment of the math curriculum to math standards and the math course sequence.
She also announced the launch of a Student Achievement Task Force, bringing together teachers, students, parents, and administrators to explore ways to improve student academic performance.
Among the special guests in the State of the Schools audience were County Executive Dr. Johnny Olszewski Jr., former County Executive Dr. Don Mohler, former BCPS superintendents Dr. Joe Hairston and Dr. Robert Dubel, Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, Thea Wilson (representing Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Monica Goldson), Towson University Provost Dr. Melanie Perreault, SECU President/CEO Dave Sweiderk, members of the Baltimore County Council, and members of the Board of Education of Baltimore County and the Board of The Education Foundation of BCPS.
During her remarks, White presented Dubel with the inaugural Dr. Robert Y. Dubel Hall of Fame Award.