Common Core under fire in Md.

The Maryland School Assessments, a set of standardized tests for elementary and middle-school students, are under fire by some parents, teachers, lawmakers and school officials who say the tests are outdated and meaningless in the age of Common Core academic standards. Two state lawmakers from Montgomery County say they’re drafting bills asking the state to seek a waiver this school year from a federal requirement to give standardized tests. (Daily Times)

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U.S. Labor Secretary Perez visits Don Bosco Cristo Rey School in Takoma Park

High school students at Don Bosco Cristo Rey in Takoma Park are working their way through school, one day a week, at law firms, government offices, universities, hospitals and construction companies. Most students couldn’t afford the private education otherwise — money earned working these jobs goes toward tuition. And they learn job skills along the way. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez highlighted his hometown school’s program in a visit on Dec. 18 and spoke to students about continuing to pursue their education. (Gazette)

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Brickyard school site fallow for now

Those involved in the controversy over the Brickyard school site in Potomac — which ended in February after an outcry by residents that included lawsuits and accusations of closed-door deals — are, like the land itself, waiting for Montgomery County Public Schools, which owns the land, to make the next move. The 20-acre parcel was the subject of a tug-of-war between Potomac residents and Montgomery County, which took over ownership of the property and planned to lease it to a private club for use as soccer fields. (Gazette)

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Student artists honored by Annapolis

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot unveiled a series of student artwork Dec. 20 to be honored in the state capital as part of the Maryland Masters Award. The program, announced in July, recognizes young scholars with "extraordinary artistic skills and vision for Maryland’s future," according to the comptroller's office. Franchot reached out to each of Maryland's public school superintendents and asked them to choose a piece of artwork from an elementary, middle or high school student in their school system, a July news release states. He will now show their works alongside one of his favorite artists, Baltimore-born modernist Herman Maril. (News-Post)

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Dec. 23 // Montgomery parents say Maryland standardized test is outdated

Among parents in Montgomery County, standardized testing is facing new opposition: Why, they ask, must their students take outdated exams that no longer reflect their classroom teaching? Many are urging that the Maryland School Assessments (MSAs) scheduled for March be canceled. The standardized exams, which go back a decade, are given to students in grades 3 through 8 for math and reading; science is tested in grades 5 and 8. Results are used as a marker of accountability, showing how well schools do in educating their students. But increasingly, critics contend the tests lack purpose — and take away time that could be used for instruction — because they do not reflect the Common Core standards now being taught. (Wash. Post)

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Carroll, Harford community college students to see tuition increases

Harford Community College students would see tuition rise $12 per credit hour under the school's proposed operating budget for next year, while Carroll Community College wants to raise tuition $5 per credit hour. Officials at the Harford school said they need to close a structural deficit and to offset flat state and county funding. Their proposed $47.8 million operating budget was given to the members of the HCC Board of Trustees at their most recent monthly meeting. (Patuxent)

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New positions, costs for contract school included in Anne Arundel budget request

Anne Arundel County Interim School Superintendent Mamie Perkins unveiled a $1.04 billion operating budget proposal for the next fiscal year, calling for 75 new positions throughout the school system and $5.8 million to open a new contract school. Perkins outlined a budget recommendation that's $35.5 million — or 3.5 percent — above the current approved budget. That request may put Perkins at odds with the Anne Arundel County government, which school officials say will fund nearly 60 percent of the budget. (Balt. Sun)

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Dorchester BOE rejects charter school

By a 4-0 vote, the Dorchester County Board of Education rejected the charter school application of the Maryland Eastern Shore Charter School Alliance. The school board’s decision followed public comment by more than a dozen people, primarily former and current educators, who spoke against the MESCA charter school application, as well as people speaking as representatives of Dorchester’s African American communities, who took exception to several sections of the application, starting with an introduction which reads, in part, “The students that Dorchester Prep intends to serve are fighting against, in many cases, generations of failure and loss of hope.” (Star-Democrat)

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