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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

State Board Sets Limited Waiver Process for Snow

Depending on how many days the State Superintendent grants us, this will allow MCPS to relieve some of the snow days that are added onto the summer. However, the hours requirement will still be in place.

MSDE Press Release: BALTIMORE (February 22, 2010) – The Maryland State Board of Education today set forth a limited waiver process for Maryland school system calendars affected by the historic snow storms of this winter.

School systems may request a waiver of up to five days from the required 180-day instructional calendar due to the inclement weather that affected the State during storms in December and February. The State Board has authorized the State Superintendent to approve individual requests from local system superintendents to make adjustments in the school calendar.

State law requests schools be open for a minimum of 180 instructional days. The law also grants the State Board authority to make adjustments to the school year if normal school attendance is prevented by severe weather. Under the waiver provision, systems must demonstrate that they have made sufficient effort in providing instruction through calendar planning and modifications.

“We believe that 180 instructional days is a bare minimum in a competitive world where some nations keep students in school for 220 days or more,” said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. “At the same time, we recognize that severe weather conditions this year have been unprecedented, and the State Board believes that some flexibility must be granted.”

Due to federal deadlines and a tight scoring schedule, Maryland does not have the option to delay the Maryland School Assessments (MSAs). Students will take the annual MSAs as scheduled, beginning the week of March 8, but State officials have said they will ask the U.S. Department of Education for special flexibility to maintain the same scoring targets that were in place for 2009. This practice has been used by other states in severe circumstances.

Under federal law, schools and school systems must meet steadily increasing scoring targets to maintain what is known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Under the No Child Left Behind Act, schools and systems strive to make AYP in order to reach the overall goal of having 100 percent of all students scoring at proficient levels in reading and mathematics by 2014.

Maryland’s proposal would maintain the overall 2014 target, but would not increase the interim target from 2009 to 2010. Instead, Maryland schools and systems would be required to make greater improvement by 2011, a target which would not be altered.

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