How Can You Honor That Special Volunteer
By Bruce Butz, Maryland PTA Scholarship Committee Chair
Every year, PTAs around the state begin to think of ways to honor that one special volunteer. You all know the one; they give countless hours, are there whenever you need them, and look for nothing in return. How will you say “Thank you for your outstanding service to our children”? Give the award of a lifetime. Give the Maryland PTA Lifetime Achievement Award, which supports the Maryland PTA Scholarship Fund.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor Maryland PTA can bestow to the person who daily lives out his or her commitment to children. Recognize and thank that special person you know who goes above and beyond for all children and youth.
The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award will receive a certificate of recognition and a congratulatory letter from the Maryland PTA president. The award will be sent according to the direction on the application and a sample press release will be provided for use in your local media.
The $50.00 fee (less the $5.00 processing fee) for presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award supports the Maryland PTA Scholarship Fund. Since the early 1950’s, Maryland PTA has designated that the fees received for the Honorary Life Membership Award be used to support the fund. The scholarships provide the opportunity for seniors across the state, who wishes to pursue a career in education, a chance to make their dreams a reality.
If every local/council honored one member each year, Maryland PTA would have the potential of awarding over $40,000.00 in scholarship money.
GIVE THE AWARD OF A LIFETIME AND SUPPORT THE SCHOLARSHIP FUND. PRESENT A MARYLAND PTA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD TO THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE IN YOUR PTA.
School Progress Index Accountability System
The Maryland State Department of Education unveiled the School Progress Index (SPI), a new accountability system designed to spur improvement in every school. The SPI assesses each of Maryland’s 1,400 schools on their individual school goals, rather than by an absolute measure. It takes into account a school’s progress determined by its overall student performance, student growth, closing of gaps between the highest and lowest student subgroups, and preparation for college and careers. The SPI was released this morning during the State Board of Education meeting. All school, system, and State data will be found on the MarylandReportCard.org website. In addition, an Audio Tutorial will be available that will walk viewers through the process step-by-step with definitions and explanations.
Listed below are links to multiple communication products that can help explain the School Progress Index to local school staff, as well as principals, teachers, parents, and the public-at-large. We hope you will take a few minutes to review these products. We ask that you email this information to your constituents as you deem appropriate.
Highlights of the SPI – This is a condensed 2-page document that provides major definitions about the SPI, including key points about the “Strands.” This hand-out can be useful in providing basic information to parents and other community stakeholders. The Highlights hand-out can be found at http://www.msde.state.md.us/w/SPI_Highlights.pdf.
Frequently Asked Questions on the School Progress Index -- A complete list of questions disaggregated into several categories (General, Definitions, Technical, and Strand categories) can be found at http://www.msde.state.md.us/w/SPI_Q_and_A.pdf. The FAQs should provide additional information and answers to a few technical questions that should assist educators and others key audiences.
SPI video -- A 2-minute video by Dr. Lowery that provides a brief overview of the SPI in an easy to understand format can be downloaded in two formats at http://media.msde.state.md.us/2012/SCHOOLPROGRESS/INDEX.mov or http://media.msde.state.md.us/2012/SCHOOLPROGRESS/INDEX.wmv. This video could be very helpful as the initial starting point for a staff, parent, or community meeting on a school’s SPI.
SPI Talking Points – We have developed several key Talking Points that can be downloaded at
What Parents Need to Know About the Common Core State Standards by Dr. Lillian M. Lowery, State Superintendent of Schools (Excerpt from MDPTA December 2013 Newsletter)
Educators and parents want the same thing for students. We want all children to be successful throughout their educations, so they are fully prepared for college and a career. That is why the more rigorous Common Core State Standards are being fully implemented in all Maryland public schools during the 2013-14 school year.
Developed under the leadership of the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Common Core State Standards initiative has brought together the best and brightest educators, policy makers, business leaders, and parents from across the country to determine what students need to know to be ready to succeed beyond high school. Maryland, along with 44 other states and the District of Columbia, adopted the Common Core State Standards to ensure that students will graduate from our schools ready for their next step.
Maryland is ready for this important shift. Thousands of teachers, principals, and administrators from across the State have been preparing for the past three years to deliver these standards to your children. Some local school systems and schools have already made the full transition, and we are pleased with the reports so far.
The National PTA has been a strong supporter of the Common Core. It produced the “Parents’ Guide to Student Success,” which provides an overview of what children will learn by the end of each grade (from kindergarten through high school) in mathematics and English language arts/literacy. The Guide focuses on the key skills your child will learn in these subjects, which will build a strong foundation for success in other content areas studied throughout the school year. The Parents’ Guide can be found at: www.pta.org/content.cfm?ItemNumber=2909.
Maryland PTA has also been a key partner in our work, providing valuable input on the Maryland State Department of Education’s new handout, “Top Ten Things Parents Needs to Know about the Common Core State Standards.” The “Top Ten” and additional parent resources can be found at: www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/ccss/ccssip_e.
With the Common Core fully implemented in Maryland schools starting this fall, what changes will be coming to your child’s classroom? Younger students will likely see little difference in instruction. However, topics may be covered at different grade levels than they have been in the past. In mathematics, a greater emphasis will be placed on basic arithmetic skills, until students have fully mastered the content. Reading will include more authentic texts and non-fiction works, giving students the opportunity to learn to analyze and understand real-world documents in addition to literary fiction. These mathematics and reading skills will help your children to excel in all subjects, with an emphasis on practical applications for what they are learning. Learning through the use of real-world problems and texts will help students develop the problem-solving and critical thinking skills they will need to be successful as they move forward.
Students in middle and high school will see a greater emphasis placed on informational texts and drawing conclusions from textual evidence. Students will work to enlarge their vocabularies through reading more complex texts. These skills align with current college and workforce literacy expectations.
All too often, students entering community colleges and universities must take remedial courses to re-learn the skills they should have mastered in high school. The educational shifts in literacy and mathematics in the Common Core State Standards will help us better prepare our students to excel upon entering post-secondary education and the workforce.
As standards become more rigorous, your children will need your support more than ever. As an involved parent, please reach out to your student’s teachers to learn how you can help your child succeed. I thank you for your support as we work together on behalf of all students.
Maryland’s New Common Core State Standards
(Information provided by MSDE)
The Common Core State Standards are a set of high-quality academic expectations in English/language arts and mathematics that define both the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each grade level to be on track for success in college and careers. They were created through a state-led initiative and have been adopted by more that 40 states, including Maryland, which is revising its Curriculum to align with the Common Core State Standards.
The standards establish consistent learning goals for all children – regardless of where they live – so that children will stay on track in school when moving from one state to another.
The standards are relevant to the real world, focusing on the knowledge and skills students will need to succeed in life after high school, in both post-secondary education and a globally competitive workforce.
For more information visit our website at www.mdpta.org and click on news and events. Maryland PTA is working with the Maryland State Department of Education to ensure parents are informed about the standards and their implementation.
The Road Ahead – The PARCC Assessments
(Information provided by MSDE)
Maryland is a Governing State in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a consortium of 24 states working to develop an assessment system aligned with the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics. The PARCC assessments will track student progress over time and will report status on a trajectory toward college and career readiness. The assessments will be computer based and will utilize a mix of constructed response items, performance based tasks, and computer enhanced computer scored items to measure higher order skills such as critical thinking, communications and problem solving.
PARCC will replace the Maryland School Assessment (MSAs) in school year 2014-2015.
The NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year
Is your school’s Assistant Principal a Rock Star or goes Above and Beyond Every day? The NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year award program annually recognizes outstanding school leaders who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students. These assistant principals are acknowledged by their peers for the exemplary contributions they have made to the profession. Check out the Application at: 2014 NASSP/Virco Assistant Principal of the Year Application
PTAs that Promote and Support Parental Involvement
How often is you school PTA communicating with parents? Do parents know what your PTA does on behalf of children each and every day in school communities? Parent involvement spans a broad range, from the parent who makes sure that their child is dressed and fed, to the parent who comes into school to volunteer, to the parent who takes it upon himself to learn all of the school system’s initiatives and programs. Research has shown that when parents are involved in their children’s schools their child is more successful in school. Schools benefit by partnering with parents to have needed support for all children. It is a win-win situation for all. PTAs should encourage and support all parents in volunteer efforts for children in their school communities each and every day. Each day make it your PTA goal to ask at least one person to join and support your PTA advocacy efforts on behalf of all children. Parent involvement encourages children to be more engaged in their school communities as well as to support the academic success of children.
The benefits of family-school-community partnerships are many: higher teacher morale, more parent involvement, and greater student success are only a few. That is why PTA developed the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships Implementation Guide, a tool for empowering people to work together with an end goal of building family-school partnerships and student success.
For each of the six National Standards for Family-School Partnerships, this online guide provides:
Who should use this guide?
Anyone with a stake in improving schools and student achievement can use this tool: PTA leaders, parents, school administrators, school board members, community organizations, and more.
How to use this guide:
This guide can assist organizers with implementing programs and policies that encourage these family-school partnerships. Used with the supporting resources, it can help organizers educate their communities about the importance of family involvement and direct the development of effective partnerships. These materials are best used after the formation of an action team focused on promoting family involvement. This team can include parents, other caregivers and family members, school staff, community members, and even students.