Last week, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett delivered his State of the County speech. Apparently, the county is in great shape. You can read a full transcript of what Leggett said here.
In fact, the county is in such great shape, Leggett plans to put more money into expanding “Excel Beyond the Bell,” a “successful” (his word) after-school program that aids in closing the achievement gap. Leggett’s plan is to expand the program into all county middle schools. Well, who knew that this program closed gaps? Of course, I doubt that anyone can produce any real empirical evidence to support the use of the word “successful,” but then who cares about such things?
But here is what I find really interesting: Next month, the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight will update a 2008 OLO report that basically concluded that while Montgomery County Public Schools narrowed some gaps, the school system missed closing gaps on a long list of key achievement outcomes. My prediction is the updated 2013 OLO report will come to the same conclusion.
And so, before expanding anything and spending more money, wouldn’t it be wise to wait to see what the OLO report has to say? No one is that wise in a county with endless supplies of cash.
Excel Beyond the Bell simply joins a long list of programs tripping over one another and claiming they close gaps. Perhaps what needs to be on OLO’s agenda next is a thorough review of all the program dollars we—taxpayers—pump into gap-closing programs and efforts. Wouldn’t that be interesting?
And for the record, we live in a county that seems to have an endless supply of programs claiming “success” at closing gaps (somewhere out there in ‘Google-land’ you can find these programs saying they closed gaps).
Here is my quick list—a baker’s dozen—of programs, or efforts, or “stuff” that makes the claim of closing gaps. (The list is in alphabetical order.):
- Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/aces/
- Business partnerships: http://www.114th.org/
- Downcounty Consortium: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/schools/downcounty/about/
- Excel Beyond the Bell: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/bulletin/article.aspx?id=269185
- Gapbusters: http://www.gapbuster.org/
- George B. Thomas Learning Academy: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/itv/Take10/Take10-03.shtm
- Kennedy Cluster Project: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/bulletin/article.aspx?id=42064
- Middle school culture: http://montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/sharedaccountability/reports/2012/Brief%20Closing%20the%20Gap_Final.pdf
- Minority Scholars Program: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/bulletin/article.aspx?id=287501
- Pre-K 12 Systems Approach: http://www.pewtrusts.org/uploadedFiles/MCPS_report.pdf
- Seven Keys: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/info/keys/documents/research.pdf
- Study Circles: http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/studycircles/aboutus/
- Union collaboration: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/montgomery-teachers-union-wields-power/2012/02/13/gIQAMojD2R_story.html