Maryland State Department of Education

MSDE Bulletin

Keeping You Current on Education Reform in Maryland

November 1, 2000 Vol. 11, No. 13

Maryland Moves Aggressively to Internet Learning

Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick has announced that the State Department of Education will begin developing a plan to bring Internet-based learning, including credit courses, to students and teachers around the state.

The State Board of Education endorsed Dr. Grasmick's plan to build a program that would make courses and a variety of educational tools available via the worldwide web. A number of Maryland's local school systems, and several other states, have independently experimented with Internet-based projects. Superintendent Grasmick's plan would incorporate materials and features of several of those pioneer projects to create a national model merging new technologies and the desire to expand learning opportunities.

The Study Group on Internet-based Learning, appointed by Dr. Grasmick earlier this year and chaired by Montgomery County Superintendent Jerry Weast, recommended to the State Board that Maryland immediately start development of a long-range plan for implementation and funding.

"The classroom has for too long established the boundaries of learning," said Dr. Grasmick. "The Internet is removing many of those boundaries and opening new opportunities for students and teachers. We see a significant role for web-delivered courses in the future of K-12 education and in teacher development."

Superintendent Weast's study group found that eight of Maryland's 24 local school systems already use web-delivered courses. Many of these early efforts have been directed toward limited populations, particularly students who have been unsuccessful in traditional school settings. The report pointed to other student groups that would benefit from web-based learning including students desiring courses not offered in their own school; desiring college credit; receiving home/hospital instruction; who failed to achieve in regular courses; and those unable to attend school full time or during the day.

The study group called for state leadership to ensure courses offered or selected by local school systems are aligned with state standards and assessment; are of high quality; and have the necessary support structures. The group also suggested Maryland explore web-based courses for staff development purposes and ongoing re-certification programs.

Internet Learning: The Next Steps

The Steering Committee for Web-based Learning, composed of key education stakeholders and experts, has been asked by Dr. Grasmick to:

* Develop an implementation plan that would include nontraditional learning opportunities and nontraditional financial options that could help control costs.

* Provide guidance on how to best use assistance offered by the Southern Regional Education Board. This would include studying or sharing resources with state programs that have taken preliminary steps in web-based learning, including the Florida Virtual High School.

* Prepare for establishment of an Internet portal that would offer services to Maryland students and teachers as early as the 2001-02 school year.

* Plan for how emerging technologies, such as handheld and wireless devices, will open up web-related learning opportunities.

Dr. Grasmick Elected To NBPTS Board

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick is one of 13 new members appointed this week to the governing board of the prestigious National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Governors Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin and Ronnie Musgrove of Mississippi were among the others named to the board.

Nine incumbents were re-elected to the board that consists of 63 members, the majority being classroom teachers. Board members serve three-year terms.

"Being elected to this board is more than an honor-it is a great responsibility," said Dr. Grasmick. "As a former teacher and a strong believer in the benefit of increased professional development, I hope to make contributions to this board that will lead to improving our nation's educational systems."

The NBPTS establishes high and rigorous standards for accomplished teachers. Currently, there are 4,804 board-certified teachers in the United States, 27 from Maryland.

248 Improved Schools Recognized

Improvement deserves notice, and last week, 248 Maryland schools that have made significant improvements in student performance over the past several years received appropriate honors.

The state's most improved schools were praised at the fifth annual Maryland School Performance Recognition Awards ceremony at Martin's East in Essex. The program recognizes the efforts of teachers, principals, parents and community members to bring about positive change.

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick presented monetary awards to 55 elementary and middle schools. They earned shares of the state's $2.75 million awards funding for making continued improvement over the past several years as part of the Maryland School Performance Program. Certificates of recognition were presented to 193 schools for recent improvements.

"These awards are about improving student achievement, utilizing the best instructional practices in the classroom, and reaching all students no matter what the barriers or challenges," said Dr. Grasmick. "The certificates and financial awards may be the tangible results of the program, but the single most important result is that the quality of the education students are receiving at these schools has improved."

Schools were recognized if they showed improvements on performance and participation indicators including the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP); the Maryland Functional Tests for reading, writing and mathematics; yearly attendance rates; and minority achievement.

The average financial award was $49,000 per school, based on enrollment and type (elementary or middle) of school. Awards can be utilized for activities and equipment to further student performance, such as professional development or computer technology. Awards cannot be used for staff bonuses or salaries.

Education Affects Recidivism Rate

The first report of a federally-funded recidivism study indicates Maryland's correctional education program may be more than paying for itself in terms of the number of offenders the program keeps from returning to prison.

The early indications of the first study of its kind were presented to the Maryland State Board of Education in October. Over a one-year period, the study elicited responses from 3,400 prisoners released in Maryland, Minnesota and Ohio in the fall/winter of 1997-98; their parole officers; and other sources.

Steve Steurer of the State Department of Education's correctional education program said the study reported that the 1,000 Maryland inmates who participated in education programs showed a 19-percent reduction in recidivism.

He said the program affects about 800 inmates per year who otherwise would be reincarcerated at a cost of $22,500 per inmate annually. By helping inmates establish successful transitions after release, Steurer said correctional education programs save about $18 million per year. He said the state budget for correctional education programs is about $12-13 million annually.

"We have long assumed that the more education an inmate receives, the less likely the inmate will return to prison," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. "Now we have documented evidence that backs our efforts. We can use this information as a guide."
for our correctional education program."

The Maryland State Department of Education provides education and library services to the 23,000 inmates in the state's 13 state-operated adult correctional institutions.

More Funds Sought For School Libraries

Concerned for the number of public school libraries that do not meet state standards for books and supplies, State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick has proposed a plan that would almost triple the current annual library spending allocation starting in the next school year.

At its October meeting, the Maryland State Board of Education was presented with Dr. Grasmick's plan to increase spending on school libraries from the current $3 million to $8.7 million in FY2002. The plan will additionally seek more flexibility in library funding. The current funding, to which local school systems gain access only if they provide local matching funds, was earmarked by the General Assembly for elementary schools. Dr. Grasmick said she wants funds available for all of the state's approximately 1,375 schools, including middle and high schools.

Less than 20 percent of schools meet the state standards that call for 12,000 books, audio and videotapes, and other items for elementary school libraries; 15,000 for middle schools and 18,000 for high schools.

The proposed plan also would provide tuition aid to give more teachers training toward certification as library media specialists. Some funds would go to survey each library.

"We think the standards we have set for our libraries are important to meet," said Dr. Grasmick. "This plan is a start to help every system improve libraries in each of their schools."

MSDE Bulletin
School & Community Outreach Office
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Web site:

Ronald Peiffer
Assistant State Superintendent

Neil Greenberger