Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Carroll school officials work through state’s Bridge Plan

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Carroll County Public Schools is figuring out how to implement the state’s Bridge Plan for Academic Validation, developed last year so students who continue to fail the High School Assessments can still graduate by completing projects.

Carroll County Public Schools set up a steering committee to look at how the Bridge Plan will work, said Steve Johnson, assistant superintendent of instruction.

Under the plan, students who fail the High School Assessments more than once may have to complete up to seven projects in each of the four test areas they failed. Students who fail all four assessments could be required to complete 28 projects.

The number of projects depends on students’ score on each of the four subject areas — algebra, biology, English and government.

The lower the student grades, the more alternative projects the student will have to complete to graduate.

For instance, a student who scores 391 in algebra, missing the 412 passing score by 21 points, will have to complete one alternative algebra project in order to graduate. But a student who scored below 280 in the same subject will be required to complete seven projects.

The Bridge Plan will go in effect next school year, the first in which seniors will have to pass the High School Assessments to graduate.

Carroll’s committee, which is made up of principals, directors, academic facilitators, testing coordinators and teachers, met once earlier this month and again Monday.

The first time around, Johnson said the committee went over the Bridge Plan draft that the state provided, and came up with a list of questions.

‘‘A lot of monitoring – who will monitor while the student is going through the plan? Who would be the point person?” Johnson said.

The Bridge Plan indicates that students would still need to meet ‘‘satisfactory” levels in areas such as attendance and grades. ‘‘Well, what does ‘satisfactory’ mean?’” Johnson asked.

The committee began trying to answer some of those questions on Monday.

According to the state, a student needs to have satisfactory attendance the year before to be eligible for the Bridge Plan. The committee discussed where the satisfactory level should be set, and there were several recommendations that fell between 88 percent to 94 percent.

Greg Bricca, director of research and accountability, said he would pull student attendance data together to be used as a reference at the next meeting, which is expected to take place in late February.

The committee also looked at identifying who would be on the team when contacting the parent. Members wanted to strike a balance between having representatives from all of the areas that would be involved in helping a student through the Bridge Plan present and not overwhelming a parent.

Who would serve on the project review committee was another question. The committee decided it would have the Maryland State Department of Education train representatives from the central office, as well as content area teachers and peer facilitators in how to analyze and score the projects.

The review teams will likely be made up of three people. A project monitor, the person designated to be the contact person with the student as they work through the project, cannot be on the committee reviewing a project he managed.

Johnson said the committee will likely involve the Carroll County Board of Education, and will seek comments from the community.

‘‘We’re going to have to get some public input,” he said.

South Carroll High School Principal Eric King is part of the steering committee, and said he had a mixed view of the implementation of the Bridge Plan.

‘‘It’s a nice sort of life raft out there for some kids,” he said about the testing alternative, but it won’t reach all of the students who might need it.

King said that because of the way the program is set up, it could exclude students who might be most in need of the alternative. To qualify, students need to be ‘‘on track to graduate,” he said, which could be difficult for some students to meet.

Second-year freshmen, for example, would not be eligible to participate in the Bridge Plan, King said. ‘‘There are usually other factors going on that they won’t qualify for the program,” he said. ‘‘So it’s not going to be an end all be all.”

Staff Writer Margarita Raycheva contributed to this report

To learn more

For information of the Bridge Planfor Academic Validation,go to