|May 25, 2001
Urged to Stay With Assessments Schedule
State Superintendent of
Schools Nancy S. Grasmick and a statewide contingent of education
stakeholders have overwhelmingly urged the State Board of Education to
stay on schedule with the High School Assessments program.
Statewide field testing
of the end-of-course exams in five subject areas was conducted May 21-25
(field testing was also conducted in January). Fair and valid questions
established from this year’s testing will become the foundation of the
state’s bank of test questions. In 2000, the State Board voted to have
students who enter ninth grade in the fall of 2001 and 2002 take the
exams, with results to be reported on their transcripts on a percentile
basis. Plans call for students who enter ninth grade in fall 2003 to be
required to pass the Assessments as a graduation requirement. It has yet
to be determined if all, or just several, of the Assessments planned for
the Phase I of the program will be part of the graduation requirement
starting in 2003.
In the past, the Board
has gone on record stating that linking the Assessments to the awarding
of diplomas would be contingent on the Governor and General Assembly
funding State Board initiatives for academic intervention to help
students already behind their peers. A presentation at the Board’s May
meeting indicated many of these requests will be funded through state or
Dr. Grasmick told the
Board that progress on the Assessments has been proceeding according to
the long-term schedule and recommended no changes be made at this time.
She said results over the next two years should be the key factor in
determining if the future Assessments schedule needs adjusting.
"We will be in an
even stronger position to make a decision once we have valid data,"
said Dr. Grasmick. "I believe it would be premature for this Board
to take a position to link [to graduation] or not link until we have
this real data. Once we have this data, we can see how many students are
proficient and what are our needs."
chancellor of the University of Maryland System and one of numerous
stakeholders to address the Board, re-emphasized that stand.
is a hero in this effort," he said. "What Maryland is doing,
and has been doing for the past year, has brought it national
recognition. It is very, very important to stay the course."
What Stakeholders Are Saying
About High School Assessments
representing all aspects of education in Maryland addressed the State
Board of Education on May 23 regarding the progress of the High School
Assessments. The following were some of their thoughts:
chancellor, University of Maryland System: "I do believe what
Maryland is developing may well be a better indicator of a student’s
ability to succeed in life than either high school grade-point averages
or the SATs."
superintendent, Cecil County Schools: "The missing link in
education has been assessment. This is the tool we can use to validate
president, Maryland Association of Boards of Education: "I have
heard a few comments today about the tests not being very hard. I hope
that is not interpreted as the test being easy. I think that is the
result of teachers teaching the curriculum."
executive director, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education: "We
really believe we need these tests to inform students and to inform
parents what will need to be done to hit these high levels."
Deborah Drown, past
president, Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals: "A
momentum and an energy have been created. We know we are not teaching to
the test. We are testing what we teach. Now we just have to get that
message to parents."
First Results Encouraging for Edison
Three Reconstituted Schools Allowed to
Add 6th Grades
The Maryland State
Board of Education, after hearing extremely encouraging results on the
first significant standardized tests at three state reconstituted
Baltimore City elementary schools managed by Edison Schools, Inc.,
unanimously voted May 23 to allow the private management company to add
sixth grade classes at each school.
In January 2000, the
Board named Furman Templeton, Gilmor and Montebello as the first
elementary schools to be state reconstituted due to continued low
performance. It was believed to be the first time nationally a state
school board had taken control of local schools. Last spring, Edison was
selected to manage all three.
The Comprehensive Test
of Basic Skills in reading and mathematics was administered in Grades
1-5 at each school in March. In their first year under Edison, the three
schools combined to improve in median national percentiles in 12 of the
15 reading grade levels and 11 of the 15 mathematics levels.
Results of the first
Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests administered under
Edison management will be released in November.
7 Maryland Schools Awarded
National Blue Ribbons
public schools have been selected as 2001 National Blue Ribbon Schools
of Excellence. The seven elementary schools were among 264 public and
private schools across the nation named Blue Ribbon Schools.
schools represent a commitment to high standards at every level–from
academic achievement to family and community involvement," said
State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. "Each is
deserving of accolades, and will serve as a valuable national model for
improvement and achievement."
The National Blue
Ribbon Schools from Maryland are:
- Benfield Elementary, Anne Arundel
- Bodkin Elementary, Anne Arundel
- Spring Garden Elementary, Carroll
- Charlestown Elementary, Cecil County
- Darnestown Elementary, Montgomery
- Fort Foote Elementary, Prince George’s
- Ocean City Elementary, Worcester
Blue Ribbon Schools are
honored for student focus and support; school organization and culture;
challenging standards and curriculum; active teaching and learning;
professional community/professional growth and development; leadership
and educational vitality; school, family and community partnerships; and
indicators of success and student achievement.
Blue Ribbon Schools are
frequent winners of other state and national grants and honors.
Schools will receive
their awards at White House ceremonies in fall.
for Rehired Teachers
The State Board of
Education has reaffirmed its intent for retired teachers and principals
who are rehired under a special provision of the Maryland General
Assembly to be subject to collective bargaining.
The 1999 legislation
(Senate Bill 15) was passed to help school systems to address the
increasing teacher shortage. The law permits retired teachers and
principals to return to teaching in classrooms, act as teacher mentors
or work in administrative capacities without being penalized by normal
earnings limitations set by the Teachers’ Retirement System and the
Teachers’ Pension System.
The legislation did not
address a role collective bargaining would play in the rehiring process.
Local systems that employed eligible personnel over the past two school
years did so after negotiating individual contracts with each rehired
The Board previously
voted to make these employees subject to collective bargaining. However,
at the Board’s May meeting, State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S.
Grasmick reported that all 24 local superintendents supported the notion
that bargaining would be a detriment to utilizing the program and they
asked the Board to reconsider its previous position.
discussion, the Board voted 7-4 to reaffirm its position that the
rehired employees should fall under the provisions of their respective
local collective bargaining agreements.
School & Community Outreach Office
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Web site: www.msde.state.md.us
Assistant State Superintendent