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December 2008
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

A few words from State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

Our schools work diligently to prepare students for life beyond the classroom, so it is gratifying to see this effort receive national attention. The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education this month acknowledged that Maryland schools are among the very best in the nation at preparing students for college.

“Measuring Up: 2008,” the new report, gave Maryland a grade of A- in college preparation. The report cited the state’s strong record in Advanced Placement scores, noting it is the nation’s “top state in student performance” on the rigorous exams.

Only six states received a grade in the A range in the report. Connecticut and Massachusetts received A’s, while Colorado, New Jersey, and Vermont joined Maryland with an A- grade. Maryland also received an A- in preparation in 2006.

Our goal has always been to prepare our students for whatever direction they choose, be it college or employment. This report is another indication that we are on the right track.

* * *
The Maryland State Department of Education has a dedicated and innovative staff. It is with great pleasure that we mention one of our staff members in particular, who last month received a national honor. Jayne Moore, Maryland’s director of instructional technology, was named Leader of the Year by the national organization representing state directors who oversee instruction and technology issues.

Jayne Moore

Jayne Moore

The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) honored MSDE’s Jayne Moore as its 2008 Leader of the Year, citing her work to strengthen instructional technology throughout the state.

Moore, who has served as director of instructional technology and school library media since 2002, has been a strong advocate for improving student learning through the use of technology. Under her leadership, Maryland has seen its student to computer ratio improved from 16:1 to 3:1. Moore assisted schools across the state as they have acquired other state-of-the-art technologies—such as Whiteboards, student response systems, and digital cameras—to enhance instruction. She led the development of the state’s technology plan and online course program. Moreover, Moore has worked closely with teachers and administrators to improve their knowledge and skills in instructional technology.

Instructional technology is not an add-on, but a critical part of how knowledge is transferred in the 21st century. Jayne has been a national leader on this issue, and Maryland is fortunate to have her tirelessly advocating for better tools to help students and teachers.



January 27-28 — State Board Meeting

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The Maryland State Board of Education this month set forth a limited waiver process for certain seniors who have failed to meet the State’s new graduation requirements.

The State Board this month voted to allow a limited number of waivers after a lengthy discussion with staff.

The State Board this month voted to allow a limited number of waivers after a lengthy discussion with staff.

Students who have completed courses, met attendance requirements, taken the High School Assessments (HSA) but failed one or more of them, met other local and state graduation requirements, and have taken advantage of available interventions, may be eligible for a waiver from the assessment requirement under the new process.

Board members approved the waiver process by unanimous vote.  The process is in place for a single year, although Board members could revisit it in the future.

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick recommended the waiver for certain students “only under extenuating circumstances.”  She said the program targets those students who, through no fault of their own, could be in jeopardy of missing graduation.

The waiver would only be available to those students who were prevented from fulfilling the HSA requirement because of school system decisions regarding class scheduling, course sequencing, testing, process of interventions, or some other special circumstances.

Under the waiver process, students and their families will be notified in February 2009 of the possibility the student may not graduate on time.  The student will be notified at that time of the HSA requirements yet to be completed and of the waiver option for that requirement if they qualify.  The principal may recommend the waiver, or the family may request it.  Local school system superintendents will either grant or deny the waiver, and denials may be appealed to the State Superintendent.


Eight Maryland schools recently received high honors for the academic success of their students. 

Six schools this month were selected as the 2008 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, and two were named National Title I Distinguished Schools.

The Blue Ribbon schools are:

  • Southern High School, Anne Arundel County
  • Western High School, Baltimore City
  • Seventh District Elementary School, Baltimore County
  • Hammond Middle School, Howard County
  • Highland Elementary School, Montgomery County
  • Stephen Decatur Middle School, Worcester County

The two Title I Distinguished Schools are:

  • Crellin Elementary School, Garrett County
  • Doswell E. Brooks Elementary Schools, Prince George’s County
Board President James DeGraffenreidt, Jr., (left), and State Superintendent Grasmick (second from right) congratulate Western High School Principal Eleanor Matthews (second from left) and Baltimore City Schools CEO Andres Alonso on Western’s success.

Board President James DeGraffenreidt, Jr., (left), and State Superintendent Grasmick (second from right) congratulate Western High School Principal Eleanor Matthews (second from left) and Baltimore City Schools CEO Andres Alonso on Western’s success.

The names of the Blue Ribbon six schools have been submitted to the U.S. Secretary of Education for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program.  They are being recognized by the Maryland State Department of Education on the basis of rigorous state and national requirements for high achievement and dramatic improvement.

“Maryland has scores of wonderful schools, making this honor especially exciting for these six schools, selected from more than 1,450 schools in our State,” said State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said.  “We congratulate the students, teachers, parents, administrators and community members who help made these schools shining examples of educational excellence.”

Four of the six schools are in the top 10 percent of state schools as measured by the Maryland School Assessments.   The other two have achieved dramatic improvement over the past five years while serving an economically disadvantaged school population.

The schools will be honored by Dr. Grasmick and other dignitaries at a banquet scheduled this coming March in Annapolis.  They also will be recognized with a special tribute by the Maryland General Assembly.

The Title I Schools – Crellin Elementary School in Garrett County and Doswell E. Brooks Elementary School in Prince George’s County – were among 80 Title I schools from 40 states that will be honored by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of State Title I Directors in a special ceremony in San Antonio, TX, this coming February.

Title I is the largest federal aid program in K-12 education.  Schools use Title I funds to improve the education of all students in high poverty areas.  MSDE administers Maryland’s Title I program and nominated the two schools after a thorough review of student achievement data based on the Maryland School Assessments.

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