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July 20, 2009
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

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

Maryland public education is a national leader in arts education, and one of the big reasons has been the support our schools have received from Mary Ann Mears, founder and chairperson of Arts Education in Maryland Schools. Mary Ann this weekend received one of eight Distinguished Service Awards from the National Governor’s Association, recognizing her tireless advocacy for the arts education.

Gov. Martin O’Malley nominated Mary Ann for this wonderful award. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said the awards recognize individuals who have demonstrated “leadership on important and diverse state issues,” adding that the eight people being honored have provided “outstanding dedication to enriching their communities and states, as well as our nation.”

Nobody is more deserving of national attention in arts education than Mary Ann. I’ve been fortunate to work closely with her for nearly 20 years. In that time, Maryland arts education has become the envy of the nation and has helped put our schools at the head of the class.

Mary Ann is a prominent artist and former member of the Maryland State Arts Council. Her work with MSDE resulted in the adoption of the state curriculum in the fine arts and the integration of outcome-based performance measures in arts education.

We join with the nation’s governors in celebrating Mary Ann’s many accomplishments.


July 21 – State Board Meeting

July 29-31 – Maryland Principals Academy

In the News

Experts to Create Better Autism Services

Maryland to Get Stimulus Funds for Special Education
Baltimore Sun

Maryland Expands Infants and Toddlers Program

County School Board Remembers Blair Ewing
Gazette Newspapers

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With the number of Maryland children and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) growing annually, Governor Martin O’Malley, Speaker Michael Busch, and State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick were among state officials, advocates, and national experts that gathered in Baltimore this month to begin charting new approaches to health, employment, and education services for children, adults, and families of residents with ASD.

State Superintendent Grasmick, center, discusses autism as Governor O’Malley and Speaker Busch look on.

State Superintendent Grasmick, center, discusses autism as Governor O’Malley and Speaker Busch look on.

“Today we take the first giant step to better address the growing needs of far too many Maryland families dealing with autism disorders,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “In our One Maryland, where we are united in our belief in the dignity of every individual, and our conviction that there is no such thing as a spare Marylander, we will continue working together to put our children and families first in these difficult times.”

The Maryland Autism Summit followed in the wake of legislation that created the Maryland Commission on Autism, charged with developing “a comprehensive statewide plan for an integrated system of training, treatment, and services for individuals of all ages with Autism Spectrum Disorders.”

“We can no longer serve those with ASD in a piecemeal fashion. It’s alarming how many more Maryland families face this troubling diagnosis each year only to discover there is so much we as a nation have left undone,” said Michael E. Busch, Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates. “By bringing together state and national experts to learn the best available research, we can better serve Marylanders diagnosed with autism.”

Ten years ago, 1,600 Maryland children with autism were being served by Maryland’s educational system.  Today, that number has grown to 7,500.  Yet, it remains unknown just how much of the increase is attributable to better diagnosis and how much to the prevalence of the disorder.  Currently, 2,300 students between the ages of 14 and 21 will be “aging out” of the public educational system over the next 5 years. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) serves approximately 2,000 adults with autism through programs funded by the Developmental Disabilities and Mental Hygiene Administrations. 

“Autism Spectrum Disorder affects a growing number of Maryland residents, and its root cause is still being researched,” said Dr. Grasmick.  “This timely gathering will help provide state leaders with a better idea of the breadth of the challenge, as well as an understanding of the services that are available.”

Summit attendees included leaders, experts and representatives of the Maryland House of Delegates, the Maryland State Department of Education, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Maryland Department of Disabilities, the Maryland Department of Human Resources, the Maryland Insurance Administration, Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare - Bureau of Autism Services, the Missouri Department of Mental Health and multiple ASD stakeholders.

The summit was facilitated by the Milbank Memorial Fund, a non-profit foundation that works to improve health by helping decision makers in the public and private sectors.


The Maryland State Department of Education will soon receive $14,382,810 through a special education grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) as part of the education funds provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick, made the announcement this month during the Autism Summit held in Baltimore. At this time, Maryland is the only state to receive this incentive grant, which will create Maryland’s Extended Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) Option.

This new State incentive grant will provide Maryland the opportunity to create a seamless birth through five early childhood intervention and special education system of services for our youngest children with disabilities and their families, allowing a full continuum of services to become a reality.

Under Maryland’s existing Infants and Toddlers program model, at age three, a child and family are no longer eligible for early intervention services through an IFSP. The option, effective January 1, 2010, will allow families currently receiving infants and toddlers services to have a choice to access IFSP services beyond age three until the child is eligible to enter kindergarten. Families will be offered the option if the child has a current plan and is determined eligible for preschool special education and related services as a child with a disability.

The Extended IFSP Option will ensure young children with disabilities are ready for kindergarten by fostering educational proficiency, while at the same time, providing families with the training and support they need to promote their children’s school readiness.

“School readiness is the ultimate goal in expanding the possibilities for children with disabilities and their families,” said Dr. Grasmick. “This new grant will provide the opportunity to incorporate the strength of our early childhood education system, along with the existing infants and toddlers family center service model.”

For more information about the Extended Individualized Family Service Plan Option for children with disabilities age three to kindergarten and their families, visit the Maryland State Department of Education website at and click on the Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services and under Branches click on the Early Childhood Intervention Education Branch.


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