New Montgomery Co. school superintendent plans to close achievement gap

ROCKVILLE, Md. — During one of his first public meetings with the Montgomery County Board of Education, the school system’s new superintendent has outlined his plan, so far, for the 2016-2017 school year.

Among the challenges is closing an achievement gap that has left some students in the county behind their peers when it comes to performance in the classroom.

“Montgomery County has a long, long history of high achievement for many students — not all students,” said Jack Smith, the new superintendent of Montgomery County Schools.

At a board of education meeting, Smith — who has been on the job for less than a month — referenced a 2014 report that showed disparities which he says falls most heavily on African-American and Latino students, as well as students living in poverty.

Smith said he wants to start by emphasizing cultural competency training for educators, something that is already taking place at schools in the county. Part of the school system’s task, he says, will be making sure the training is working and giving the schools the tools and assistance educators need to help students.

He also plans to use testing and assessment programs already in place along with feedback from teachers on students to get more frequent progress updates on how schools and students are performing.

“At the end of the marking period, we ought to know how students are doing and act on that,” Smith said.

Before accepting the position in Montgomery County, Smith was the interim superintendent of Maryland schools and before that, served as the superintendent of Calvert County Public Schools.

The new school chief said the system needs to find out what it will take to get all students performing at the highest levels. He believes many schools are getting students where they need to be, but he wants to see that progress at all of the county’s 204 schools.

“Our society, our community cannot continue to have a fracture in its learning for children,” Smith said.

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