Superintendent on NBC4: How Do We Prepare Kids for 21st Century?
Dr. Joshua Starr tells NBC4 what he's focused on as thousands of Montgomery County students go back to school: Preparing kids for the 21st century, building the district and celebrating diversity.
When you’re already ranked as one of the best large school districts in the nation, the coming school year is about ideas for how to get even better, according to Dr. Joshua Starr, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, who visited NBC4 Wednesday afternoon.
“We have done so well when it compares to any other district out there when it comes to academic skills,” he said. “Now we have to think about how we prepare kids for the 21st century.”
Starr offered thoughts on a variety of subjects, from the school system’s nationality and income diversity to the lack of need for standardized tests.
On keeping up with growth in MCPS: “We just keep building--we keep hiring people. We keep building new schools. We're adding on to schools when need be.”
On Maryland’s No Child Left Behind waiver: “Quite frankly, I think No Child Left Behind is dying a slow death. We’re realizing that it takes a very limited view of what kids actually need to know and be able to do.
"We don’t measure ourselves by the state test solely. We look at things like AP and SATs and much higher level skills. It is not at the forefront of my thinking about what we need to do.”
On standardized tests: “Standardized tests are limited. They do play a role but they’re not the equivalent of a profit and loss statement that some people would have us to believe.
"At best they help us ask better questions: What are kids doing in the classroom? What kinds of tasks are we asking them? How are they learning and growing?”
On pass or fail grading systems: “There are limitations in grades…how does a child get feedback? We have to develop that as much as we have to just give grades and give tests.”
On the demographics of MCPS, which boasts students from 164 countries who speak 184 different languages, according to NBC4: “It’s such an opportunity to have this incredibly diverse school district. We have more poor kids in Montgomery County than DC has kids.
"It creates this wonderful opportunity for us to be the microcosm of America and for our kids to experience that.”
Starr ended with a plug for the district’s back-to-school fair, which will be held at the Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville, Saturday, Aug. 25 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
School starts on Monday, Aug. 27.