by Brenna Henderson ‘21
Back in the 2000s, MCPS was recognized for its efforts to close the achievement gap, which is the difference in academic performance between groups of students. However, the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight report noted that, in recent years, MCPS has let the gap widen.
The report summary concluded that the opportunity and performance gaps by race and ethnicity persist and students who are not eligible for service group programs (reduced meals, ESOL programs, special education, etc.) are outperforming those who are. One of the report’s contributors and a Senior Legislative Analyst, Elaine Bonner-Tompkins, also concluded that “ESOL and other education programs designed to narrow performance gaps by English language proficiency and income are underfunded relative to student need.”
Superintendent Jack Smith challenged the findings of the report, saying that it “provides an inaccurate picture of the school system.” The Montgomery County Council, a legislative branch of the County Government, discussed achievements and problems concerning the gap on January 27. The council talked about different, positive ways to close the gap, as recommended by the report. The council also mentioned that Nate Tinbite, the student member of the board, said many students at schools with high poverty rates feel disadvantaged compared to schools with lower poverty rates. To address the issue, MCPS will adapt different proposed budgets and policies; for example, annually reporting on student performance and resource allocation for education and ESOL programs.