Silver Chips Online

Superintendent addresses Blair concerns at Town Hall event

Summative exams, registrars and magnet programs among topics of concern

By Abir Muhuri, Online Entertainment Editor
November 25, 2013
On Nov. 21, 2013, Dr. Joshua Starr, Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), addressed community comments and questions at Blair’s Town Hall event.

Dr. Starr answered various audience questions throughout the forum event. Among others, pertinent to both the Blair and the rest of the county, he touched upon issues including county summative exams, second-language registrars and county involvement in magnet programs.

Starr introduced county summative tests and semester final exams as a valuable resource in measuring student progress. However, Starr also acknowledged that these tests may not always be completely consistent with the academic performance of students. “I have some teachers who tell me that summative assessments are wonderful. We get it immediately and they tell us what we need.” Other teachers, however, have expressed concern about whether summative express true student performance. Assessment data isn’t always in line with quarter grade performance. “It may be a little off,” he said.
Superintendent Joshua Starr took questions from Blair parents at the town hall style meeting. Emma Howells
Superintendent Joshua Starr took questions from Blair parents at the town hall style meeting.

In addition to county problems, Starr elaborated on a major services disparity at Blair. Trace Gibson, Blair’s PTSA president, introduced the issue of a lack of Spanish-speaking support services at Blair. “Currently Blair does not have support service staff members who speak Spanish. "We have 901 Hispanic Students,” Gibson said. She questioned Dr. Starr on what the county plans to do resolve this issue. “What are we doing as a district to get out there to recruit more Spanish-speaking staff?” she asked.

Although Starr did not directly pose a solution to Blair’s gap in bilingual services staff, he reestablished the county’s commitment to employing bilingual staff members. He concluded, “We’re always on the lookout for folks who speak Spanish and English. We know it’s such a need. We recruit and we look. We can only go with the applicants we get.”

Finally, Junior Marie-Therese Burton concluded the Town Hall with a question regarding county Magnet teachers. “It seems that the Magnet is becoming assimilated with the rest of the school. I would like you to address how the Magnet will be preserved as a special program,” she said.
Dr. Starr emphasized that the county cannot change magnet program structure. “I will not and cannot be changing the Magnet structure. I have not diminished [nor] increased magnet programs.”

Starr’s next Town Hall event will be held at Paint Branch High School on Apr. 28, 2014.