“Devastating,” according to US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos describing the recently released results from the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP, the exam administered by the National Center for Education Statistics, is widely viewed as the nation’s Report Card on student achievement. New Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) CEO Dr. Monica E. Goldson uses a different yardstick for measuring student achievement.
“Exam results count but there are better strategies for measuring and achieving student success,” Goldson said.
Goldson supports “programs that target classroom instruction for teachers, grade-appropriate curriculum development, strategic use and implementation of technology, and those that focus on the needs of our most vulnerable students.”
“I believe in experiences and programs with measurable goals that propel students to their highest levels of excellence,” she said.
About 15 years ago, while principal of the county’s Henry A. Wise Jr. High School, Goldson joined students to advocate for a dual enrollment program with the local community college. Targeted to high school juniors, students would graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.
“Although many of the initial dually enrolled student participants weren’t good test-takers, they were smart and excelled in the program,” Goldson said.
Today the program has enrolled 1,200 students and evolved into two Academies (the Academy of Health Science and the Teachers Academy) supported by the University of Maryland, Bowie State and Howard University.
Goldson has also created an Adopt-A-School program to support county schools with enhanced educational experiences, financial support and volunteerism focused on improving student outcomes.
“The goal is to ensure all of our schools are adopted by a business, community or interfaith partner by the start of the 2019-2020 school year.” To date, Goldson reports that 68 elementary, 18 middle, 19 high and 12 specialty (charter and academy) schools have been adopted.
Her other priorities include expanded access to prekindergarten, increased school resources for low-performing schools, creating additional public-private partnerships to accelerate construction projects, and improving the availability of mental health services to students and families.
Enrollment in PGCPS exceeded projections this year — a record 136,000 students attend the county’s 206 schools.
“This news is a welcome vote of confidence in the incredible work of our school system, teachers, principals and support staff. When families choose Prince George’s County Public Schools, they know their children will receive a high-quality education that prepares them for higher education, the workplace and life beyond the schoolhouse doors,” Goldson said.
“I am extremely proud to lead this amazing school district.”
An alum of the county’s Suitland High School, Goldson has spent her entire career in PGCPS. First as a mathematics teacher, later promoted to Mathematics Instructional Specialist, steadily climbing the ranks to CEO.
A three-time graduate of historically Black colleges and universities, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Florida A&M University, a master’s degree in Elementary and Secondary School Administration from Bowie State University, and a doctorate in Educational Administration and Policy from Howard University.
She is the proud parent of two sons — the oldest is a student at Savannah College of Arts and Design, and the youngest is a senior at the county’s Oxon Hill High School.
According to Goldson, “God knew I was going to have the challenge of caring for 136,000 diverse students with unique needs, and he blessed me with smart, talented, low-maintenance boys.”