FREDERICK COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
In early December, the MSDE released their statewide public school report cards that measure performance on the state’s new accountability system. Frederick County Public Schools performed quite well, all receiving marks of 3 or better–a meaningful achievement for members of the local business community.
The New Maryland State Accountability System
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a new federal law designed to help measure school success and pathways toward improvement. As an updated version of the No Child Left Behind Act, the ESSA seeks to ensure that all of our nation’s students will be taught to high academic standards and that assessments will be given to reflect and report upon student achievement of these standards. With that comes the need for accountability and the requirement that specific plans for improvement will be enacted when schools fail to meet these standards.
In response to this new law, the Maryland State Department of Education developed a new report card system designed to help demonstrate that success for our schools and students includes more than just their test scores –it’s about growth, it’s about access, and it’s about readiness for what comes next.
Whether a school receives the highest mark possible, a 5-star rating, or the lowest, a 1-star rating, the information provided via the report is beneficial for school improvement purposes. For those in Frederick County–where no school received lower than a 3-star rating, the information provided can be utilized to take schools to the next level of achievement. And, for those in the business sector, this rating is a valuable indicator to help determine current and future community health, and to provide opportunities for creating valuable partnerships that will me mutually beneficial for all involved.
Why School Quality Matters
When it comes to business owners, there are countless reasons why doing business in an area with good schools is beneficial.
Attracting workers is probably the most apparent since, if you want to attract good workers, you have to offer them a good place to live. Things like school and neighborhood quality, two measurements that are intimately interwoven, tend to factor into that decision making process, particularly for younger members of your workforce who come with families or the idea of beginning one.
Additionally, business owners have to think long term about their future workforce possibilities. You can’t import all of your people forever and ever. That is an unsustainable model for most companies, particularly those in the small to medium categories. You need to be able to draw a quality workforce from your community to ensure your own longevity.
And what about consumers?
Whether you are a B2B or a B2C company, you need people who can afford to purchase and utilize your products and services. This is an issue for all businesses in a community. Lumber manufactures will struggle in a community where members can’t afford to build homes, just like a retail location selling high end bags, and a nonprofit organization that requires donations to sustain itself will as well.
Finally, research has shown that local economies tend to flourish when it is filled with a more skilled and productive workforce. And, let’s face it, flourish is a word all business owners want to hear when talking about the economy.
What This Means in FCPS
When it comes to analyzing scores such as those put out by the MSDE, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what they mean.
For business leaders, they mean that we can more accurately understand what our local schools have to offer our local students. This new tool is designed to be more comprehensive and growth minded than previous ones wherein the primary measure was performance on standardized tests–an accountability measure that paints a fairly one dimensional picture of what a school can offer its students.
With these new report cards, community members can get a better understanding of where our schools have been and what they need to focus on to experience a brighter educational future for our students. For those looking at Frederick County Public Schools, as a district, we can see that they have been doing great things.
There’s always room for improvement, but with the majority of FCPS schools earning 4-stars or more and none earning lower than 3, ours is a school district that is succeeded at more than just test taking. They're providing students with positive school climates, great curriculum, and college and career readiness at a rate many other school districts in the state can’t attest to. And, because the report card also provides insight into things like chronic absenteeism, graduation rates,and English Language proficiency achievements, we can say with confidence that FCPS offers students exceptional education.
What The Business Community Can Do to Support Our Schools
Those in the business community have a vested interest in school performance as it pertains to the state of future workforce availability, current workforce attractability, and consumer health. Beyond this, supporting schools and student success is an important part of becoming an authentic and contributing member of a community. As such, finding meaningful ways to partner with local schools is an opportunity businesses should definitely pursue.
From providing monetary grants and donations to support school programs to sitting on local school boards, there are countless ways that businesses can give back to students and schools to impact change and support growth within schools.
Frederick County Public Schools currently partners with local and national businesses in many ways. You can learn more about the current business partnership programs FCPS utilizes and explore the possibility of developing one by reading their Annual Partnership Report.
Want to know about school report cards? Watch this informative video from FCPS about the new report cards and what they mean for our local public schools: Maryland Report Cards
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