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BCPS Magnet Task Force on Education

Frequently Asked Questions

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Magnet Strategic Plan
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Q: WHAT PROMPTED THE FORMATION OF A MAGNET TASK FORCE?
A:  
An external audit of the BCPS Magnet Programs was conducted and reported to the Board of Education in November of 2013 (2013 Magnet Program Audit Report).  The first  of the 14 recommendations was to form a task force charged with defining the role, definition, and value of magnet programs at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and the development of a five-year strategic plan to address the other audit recommendations.  The Magnet Task Force was convened in December of 2013.

Q: WHO ARE THE MEMBERS OF THE MAGNET TASK FORCE?
A: The task force consists of representatives from 50 different stakeholder groups, including central offices in the BCPS divisions of Business Services and Curriculum and Instruction; elementary, middle, high school and central office administrators and teachers; parents from different advisory groups; magnet and non-magnet students; and representatives from business, the community, and post-secondary education.  A concerted effort was made to identify stakeholders who bring a broad perspective and awareness of Baltimore County Public Schools to serve on the Magnet Task Force.  Members of the task force were recommended by BCPS Central Office and School administrators, parent and student associations and advisory groups, and business organizations.

Q: WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE MAGNET TASK FORCE??
A:  Initially, the Magnet Task Force was charged with refining the vision, purpose and goals for the BCPS magnet programs and developing a 5-year Strategic Plan to address the audit recommendations.  In August 2014, the task force reconvened and was charged with developing a definition for the BCPS magnet programs and beginning the implementation of the strategic plan.  Gathering and analyzing data and input from a variety of sources, including parents, students, BCPS teachers and administrators, and other community stakeholders is an integral part of the role of the task force.  At the end of academic year, after reviewing and analyzing the data and information collected, the findings and recommendations of the task force will be compiled into an annual progress report and presented to the Superintendent.

Q: WHAT IS THE 5-YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN FOR MAGNET PROGRAMS??
A: The Strategic Plan provides the “road map” for how the task force will address the 2013 Magnet Audit recommendations over the next five years.  The plan is divided into five strategic goals with each goal broken down into specific initiatives and key actions.  The plan also includes the target start and end dates for each strategic initiative and key action and performance indicators and metrics for each strategic goal. 

The five strategic goals include:

1 Equitable Access Developing a system wide portfolio of magnet program offerings that ensure equity of physical access.
 2 Outreach, Marketing and Recruitment Ensuring greater access to magnet program information for all segments of the BCPS community.
 3 Admissions Process Ensuring a fair and equitable admissions process for all magnet programs.
 4 Administration, Oversight,
and Monitoring
Ensuring effective administration of magnet programs.
 5 Curriculum and Instructional Standards Establishing rigorous curriculum and instructional standards for all magnet programs.

Q: WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED BY THE TASK FORCE SINCE AUGUST 2014?
A:  In August, a project manager was hired to facilitate the work of the magnet task force.  The task force was subdivided into five work groups, with each group being responsible for addressing one of the strategic goals.  The task force meets at least once a month and the work groups meet at least once between task force meetings.  Between August and December 2014, the task force drafted a working definition for the BCPS magnet programs and the work groups have been collecting, reviewing, and analyzing existing data and information related to each strategic goal.  In November and December, the task force has been visiting and learning about the different magnet program options and program delivery models that are available to students in BCPS.  The task force has also begun planning community forums and surveys in order to gather input related to each strategic goal from parents, students, teachers, administrators, and other interested stakeholders.  Additionally, the task force has begun the process of identifying best practices in other school districts with magnet programs or similar educational options.

Q: HOW CAN STAKEHOLDERS PROVIDE INPUT?
A: Stakeholder surveys and community forums will be provide in March of 2015.  Participation in the forums is an important opportunity for parents, students, teachers, administrators, and community members to share ideas for and provide feedback on improving the BCPS magnet programs.  Please check this site periodically for updates on survey and meeting access, locations, and times.

Q: WHERE CAN INFORMATION ABOUT THE BCPS MAGNET PROGRAMS BE FOUND?
A: Please visit the Web site for the Office of Magnet Programs.



2013 Magnet Audit Overview

Baltimore County Public Schools engaged an external auditor, Metis Associates, to review its magnet programs. The six-month audit, which began in May 2013, assessed the effectiveness of the system's central administration, which manages the application process, conducts marketing, and provides some program staffing. It also looked at equity of access in terms of admissions criteria as well as transportation and geographic issues. Finally, the audit explored the effectiveness of magnet program implementation, which includes the level of interest in these programs on the part of students and families and the sufficiency of staffing and resources.

Researchers reviewed program documentation; solicited input from stakeholders such as the district magnet team, staff, and principals; and analyzed school- and student-level data. A significant component of the audit was a series of community forums and an online questionnaire.

Magnet programs are a critical part of the BCPS educational program. Since 1993, BCPS has offered magnet programs to students in elementary, middle, and high schools. More than 70 programs available at 28 school locations serve nearly 12,000 students.

Metis served as the external evaluator for Baltimore's federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant from 2003 to 2007. That grant was used to create several middle- and high-school magnet programs that will be included in the current audit. 

Here is the report produced by Metis:

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