Superintendent Outlines School System Master Plan

OCEAN CITY – Future goals for Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS) were presented to the Ocean City business community this week.

On Wednesday morning, Worcester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson presented a strategic plan, “Worcester 2016: A World Class Education”, to the Ocean City Economic Development Committee (EDC). Wilson explained the plan maps out five goals and strategies for a pathway to continuous improvement for the entire school system.

The first goal is academic success for every student through students demonstrating growth on Maryland School Assessments (MSAs) and benchmark assessments while preparing to be productive citizens, and successfully transition to Common Core standards by providing professional development, revising instructional practices, and re-aligning benchmark assessments, implement Common Core and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)-aligned revised benchmark assessments and use the results for system improvement.

Additionally, each student will complete at least one class to earn post-secondary credit or an early college opportunity before graduation, and develop a comprehensive curriculum that aligns with post-secondary readiness- emphasizing critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.

The second goal is multiple pathway opportunities and connecting classrooms to future work environments by creating clear pathways across high school boundaries encompassing the technical high school, as well as distance learning, and concurrent enrollment options for students to complete certificates of achievement, credits in post-secondary institutions, Advanced Placement (AP) tests, and other assessments demonstrating post-secondary readiness.

The master plans also includes conducting a comprehensive internal review of high school course articulation to look at schedules and the alignment of programs between high schools and to recommend practices including a variety of pathway opportunities to include distance learning, online sharing and collaboration, and dual credit options to maximize the use of all WCPS high school classrooms.

Additionally, according to the plan, it provides mini-grant incentives for teachers using virtual learning; develops an entrepreneurial curriculum for high school students; prepares students to compete for jobs on a world stage by providing students with classroom experiences that require a high level of creativity and innovation; personalize education so that students will develop a deep understanding of self, world, career, and their own pathway to success, and strengthen the relevancy and effectiveness of teaching through integrating content areas and incorporating the tools students will be required to use in the workforce.

The third goal is high quality teaching and learning through the cultivation of world-class teachers and principals by the school system supporting high quality teaching and learning, and developing each school leader’s capacity to provide constructive feedback for teachers and about teaching and learning, develop pathways for succession planning, and staff diversity should reflect students’ diversity.

The fourth goal is to use process improvement and safe, healthy, sustainable, innovative practices to manage resources. Each program, service, department, and school will be responsible for answering a key question: “Are we using resources to create the best education system in the world so that our students can achieve and compete globally?”

The master plans also outlines the need to explore the development of initiatives to produce system savings in the areas of energy conservation and recycling, and find methods for savings based on close examination of processes and elimination of practices not integral to producing a world class system.

Additionally, it calls for developing internal capacity for resource management and fiscal accountability, benchmark with similar Maryland districts around instructional and operational programs, develop performance improvement strategies for wellness, sustainability, and crisis management, and identify authentic measures which lead to continuous improvement for students and allow stakeholders to remain informed.

The fifth goal is partnerships to enhance student successes by valuing and strengthen a positive, self-renewing culture, form superintendent advisory groups comprised of business leaders and community leaders, develop a process for student input on the quality of the education they are receiving and to consider their ideas for improvements, review and enhance outreach methods to senior citizens and increase volunteerism, and explore the formation of a WCPS education foundation.

Wilson concluded by touching on the economic impact of schools across the eastern shore.

A study conducted by BEACON at Salisbury University showed $97 million is received to operate public schools in Worcester County resulting in an economic impact of $211 million across the county. The overall economic impact across the eastern shore is around $2 billion.

“We don’t want you to think about us as an economic impact,” Wilson said. “We want you to think about us as a quality school system and what we do for kids.”