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Charles County school system staff are working to fill vacant teaching positions. School starts in 10 days, and there are 24 slots to fill.

Connie Armstead, executive director of human resources for the school system, updated the Charles County Board of Education on Tuesday about new hires, saying there have been 124 as of Wednesday, including 61 middle and high school teachers and 31 elementary school teachers.

Other hires included staff for special education, administrative assistants, a speech pathologist, school counselors and school psychologists.

The number of new hires changes daily.

Currently, there are some vacancies at all school levels and in special education.

Armstead said that trouble areas to fill include special education, math, science, computer science, library media and technology education.

Though she did not have any figures with her, Armstead said the number of minority hires has increased “tremendously” from last year.

Last year, the system reported that 37 of the 141 new hires were members of minority groups.

Armstead said that a complete breakdown of staff hires including race and gender will be available in October.

Policy changes could mean fewer tests for students

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Amy Hollstein asked the school board Tuesday to approve suggested policy changes that would eliminate quarterly exams and introduce pre- and post-testing procedures to better align to the Common Core State Standards.

The pre/post-testing procedure would be more “reliable and useful,” Hollstein said.

Hollstein said that the school system used quarterly assessments to gauge student learning. Those assessments were in line with the voluntary state curriculum. As the state moves to new common core standards, including new student learning objectives, “we need to change our model,” she said.

Hollstein said the system did not want to keep the quarterly exams and have the pre/post-tests because “that's just too much testing for our kids.”

Student board member Amit Patel said he liked that quarterly assessments could be eliminated. He said the quarterly assessments were not good measurements of growth because they covered different content.

According to information provided by the school system, the proposed testing changes may reduce the number of tests students take, create tests that provide teachers and students with more meaningful data, and are based on a beginning-of-the-year pre-test followed by a period of instruction. Students will take post-tests to assess the impact of instruction and measure growth.

If the new rules are approved, students would take pre-tests between Aug. 26 and Sept. 6, and post-tests between Feb. 10 and Feb. 28. Schools would share pre- and post-test results with parents in home reports distributed April 22.

Changes to testing include pre- and post-tests for grades 1 to 8 for reading and math, elementary and middle school science, English III and the addition of a more rigorous writing piece for reading assessments.

The changes require school board approval.

According to a press release from the school system, Superintendent Kimberly Hill provided wording changes to Board policies 6411.7 and 6411.8, which can be found on the Charles County Public Schools website at www.ccboe.com under BoardDocs.

The board will meet at 6 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building to discuss the policy changes.

gphillips@somdnews.com