MCPS Begins School Year with Record Enrollment (Photos)

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) opened the 2013-2014 school year Monday (August 26, 2013) with the highest enrollment in the district’s history and a strong focus on providing students with the knowledge and skills they need for success in the 21st century.

MCPS will continue to implement the Common Core State Standards throughout the district this year, including elementary schools, where the standards are a part of Curriculum 2.0. And MCPS staff will spend this year aligning its work to the new Strategic Planning Framework—Building Our Future Together.

MCPS will continue to see significant growth. More than 151,000 students are expected to attend the district’s 202 schools this year, an increase of about 2,300 students from the 2012-2013 school year. Enrollment has grown by more than 10,000 students in the past five years and is expected to top 159,000 students by 2018-2019.

“We are excited to welcome our staff and students back for another great year in Montgomery County Public Schools,” said Christopher S. Barclay, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “Our district is growing quickly because parents know that our schools are among the best in the nation and we are committed to giving every student a well-rounded education that prepares them to thrive in their future.”

MCPS celebrated the new school year Monday morning with an event at Weller Road Elementary School, one of four new, modernized schools that officially opened today. The other modernized schools are Glenallan Elementary, Herbert Hoover Middle, and Gaithersburg High. The modernizations were part of a dozen major construction projects that MCPS completed over the summer, including six additions that added a total of 83 classrooms.

To meet growing enrollment, MCPS added more than 120 elementary and secondary positions, as well as 22 positions to serve an additional 900 students that require English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) services. MCPS also added more than 100 positions to increase individualized services for special education students.

“MCPS is experiencing tremendous growth and that is expected to continue for the years to come,” said Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr. “Our job is to make sure that we inspire and motivate our students by providing the greatest public education to each and every child. I know we have the staff and community support to do just that.”

Building Our Future Together

At the event, Mr. Barclay and Dr. Starr spoke about the district’s new Strategic Planning Framework—Building Our Future Together—which was approved by the Board of Education in June and will guide the work of MCPS in the years to come. The Framework is built upon five Core Values: Learning, Relationships, Respect, Excellence, and Equity.

“These are the Core Values that really define what it means to be a great public school system and serve all students at the highest level,” Mr. Barclay said. “If we really do our work around these values, I know that MCPS will continue to be one of the nation’s best school systems and our students will have great success in college and careers.”

The Framework is focused on the three competencies that students need for success in the 21st century—Academic Excellence, Creative Problem Solving, and Social Emotional Learning—as well as a strong commitment to Organizational Effectiveness. All MCPS schools and offices will align their work to the Strategic Planning Framework throughout the school year.

“Our Strategic Planning Framework sets a clear direction for our school district now and into the future,” Dr. Starr said. “It is focused on what our children need to know and be able to do in order to thrive in today’s global economy.”

Community Partnerships

The opening day event also celebrated the many partnerships that MCPS has with government agencies, non-profits, and businesses that help the district meet the needs of a growing number of students and their families.

Weller Road Elementary School has one of nine School-based Health Centers that are operated in partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. The centers provide physical and mental health services to students and their families in the school building. The centers are under the umbrella of Linkages to Learning, a program in 28 MCPS schools that provides holistic support to families, leading to a brighter future for students. MCPS and the county work in collaboration with many local non-profit agencies to provide services through Linkages to Learning.

“MCPS cannot alone meet the needs of our students,” Dr. Starr said. “We must work in partnership with our county and the community to provide the support and opportunities our kids need to achieve their very best.”

Dr. Starr also highlighted the Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success (ACES) program, which is a collaborative effort between MCPS, Montgomery College, and the Universities at Shady Grove. The program will be in 10 MCPS high schools this year and will provide targeted interventions and supports to students in order to keep them on track for college enrollment and completion. Those supports will continue throughout college.

The community also has come together to support the ACES program by donating money that can be used for scholarships, breaking down financial barriers to college enrollment. Dr. Starr recognized Pepco for its $25,000 donation to the ACES scholarship fund.

Other Highlights

Other highlights of the 2013—2014 school year include:
– The continued rollout of Curriculum 2.0 in all elementary grades (K-5). Curriculum 2.0 is aligned to the Common Core State Standards and provides for rigorous instruction in core subjects—reading and mathematics—while putting a renewed focus on other content areas, including science, social studies, the arts, physical education and more. Curriculum 2.0 also helps students build the Thinking and Academic Success Skills that are so important in the 21st century workplace.
– Thirty-eight new principals and more than 800 new teachers in MCPS schools. Six of the district’s 25 high schools have new principals this year.
– Ten Interventions Network Schools, which will work with central office and each other to improve the timeliness and quality of interventions and supports for students who are struggling. These 10 schools will serve as models for the entire district and effective strategies will be shared with other schools.
– Ten Innovation Schools that will receive intense support in designing and implementing innovative school improvement strategies and professional learning plans, with the goal of raising student achievement and narrowing performance gaps. Each school will have a custom-designed improvement plan, based on the needs of the school.

Fast Facts about Montgomery County Public Schools

Academic Highlights
– MCPS students, in 2012, took nearly 33,000 AP Exams—an all-time record—and 75 percent of those exams earned a college ready score of 3 or higher.
– ACT scores for the Class of 2013 rose to 23.5 (out of 36), significantly higher than the average scores of the state (22.3) and the nation (20.9). In 2012, MCPS set a record for SAT performance, with graduates scoring an average of 1,651 (out of 2,400) on the exam.
– More than 90 percent of kindergartners have met or exceeded reading targets for the past five years.
– MCPS placed four high schools in the top 100 of The Washington Post High School Challenge. Every MCPS high school made the list, which includes only the top 9 percent of schools in the country. MCPS also placed 17 schools on the annual list of America’s Best High Schools, published by Newsweek/The Daily Beast.
– Graduates from the Class of 2013 earned more than $288 million in scholarships.

– MCPS has 1,296 buses and transports more than 100,000 students to and from school each day.
– There are 1,100 bus routes with more than 40,000 bus stops.
– The number of miles driven by MCPS buses each day could circle the equator four times.

– MCPS provides meals to about 60,000 students each day. During the 2012-2013 school year, MCPS served nearly 15 million meals.
– MCPS meals provide three-quarters of the nutrients that a student needs each day.
– About one-third of MCPS students are eligible for Free and Reduced-price Meals (FARMS), an indicator of poverty. Fifty-one MCPS schools will participate in the Maryland Meals for Achievement Program, receiving breakfast in their classrooms at no cost.
– About 3,000 students receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner from MCPS each school day.

– Over the summer, MCPS replaced about 9,300 computers in more than 40 schools. Many of the desktop computers were replaced with wireless-enabled laptops or tablets.
– MCPS installed wireless networks in 113 schools over the summer. By the end of September, every MCPS school should have a wireless network.
– More than 80 additional schools were equipped with interactive whiteboards over the summer, as the district meets its goal of putting a whiteboard in every elementary school classroom.

Sonya Burke

About Sonya Burke

Sonya Burke is the Multimedia Manager at Montgomery Community Media (MCM). You can email story ideas at or reach her on Twitter @SonyaNBurke.


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