The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Unveiling the future of education: MSDE site reviews

Photo courtesy of Maryland Department of Education
As part of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the Maryland State Department of Education is conducting expert site reviews of schools all across the state to ensure they are fulfilling the goal of “transforming education across Maryland”.

On Jan. 10 and 11, 2024, WCHS underwent a Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Expert Review Team (ERT) site visit. MSDE is conducting these school reviews to assess how well schools around the state are implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, intending to assess all schools by 2032. To elaborate, the Blueprint is a set of policies and funding dedicated to improving Maryland’s education system and ensuring quality and equitable education for all.

Being among the first schools in both the county and state to be assessed, WCHS hosted a group of six educational professionals from around the state who conducted an in-depth review of many areas of focus, including the school’s interventions and support for students, professional growth for staff and ability to help students to be college and career ready.

“They conducted focus groups and class reviews,” Principal John Taylor said. “They had a schedule of classes that they went and looked at and visited for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the class — they were observing and seeing what was happening instructionally there.”

The team’s multifaceted approach allowed the ERT to get an idea of what everyday life is like at WCHS for all students, teachers and parents. While visiting classes gave the ERT an idea of what classes look like, the focus groups gave them an idea of what the school itself feels like.

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“We had focus groups of school leaders, two different focus groups of teachers, focus groups of parents and focus groups of students,” Taylor said. “They wanted a range of different kinds of students, different kinds of parents, making sure that all kinds of groups in the building are represented.”

The focus groups allowed different stakeholders in the WCHS community to communicate both ways in which the school has successfully supported students and teachers as well as ways that the school could improve.

“The focus, I felt like, was all over the place, to be honest with you,” WCHS parent and former PTSA president Stacy Ganz Khan said. “We talked a lot about communication amongst the community and there was some talk about special education. We talked a little bit about how students felt in the building and we spoke about teachers, about attitudes; we spoke a lot about grading and reporting.”

All of the information, experiences and reflections will be taken into account by the ERT to help WCHS make positive changes in the coming years.

“So then they compiled all those focus group answers, all those class review answers and all the documentation we sent, and sometime soon I am supposed to get a multi-page document that is our report of how we are doing here at WCHS,” Taylor said. “Then, [we will receive] a series of action steps we are supposed to take to get better.”

While the site visit and report from the MSDE will be key to changes made at WCHS in the next few years, it has become clear to many that open communication between the administration and members of the WCHS community is vital to ensuring a positive future.

“I think it would be great if we had more focus groups, not just because of MSDE coming in, but I think we could learn so much from having these types of focus groups throughout the year from various stakeholders: students, parents and teachers,” Ganz Kahn said. “I just think the more we learn about the community and what we need, and the more lines of open communication we have, the better the school’s going to be and the better we’re going to be as a community to support the school.”

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About the Contributor
Leah Kreisler
Leah Kreisler, Sports Editor
Leah Kreisler is a junior at WCHS and the Sports Editor for the Observer. In her free time, Leah enjoys playing volleyball, going to the gym, reading and writing and spending time with her friends and family.

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