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June 7, 2010
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

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

There is no doubt that Maryland has the best and brightest educators - from the mountains of Western Maryland to the coastline of the Eastern Shore - from our big urban facilities made up of quirky, vibrant neighborhoods, to the surprisingly expansive rural countryside. The contributions that teachers bring to the classroom can not be understated: teacher quality is the number one predictor of student success.
Anne Arundel County Teacher of the Year Erin Sullivan (center) joined by  Louise Lanier, Director of Partnerships for the County, State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick, Glen Burnie High School Principal Vickie Plitt, State Board President James DeGraffenreidt, and Anne Arundel Superintendent Kevin Maxwell.

Anne Arundel County Teacher of the Year Erin Sullivan (center) joined by Louise Lanier, Director of Partnerships for the County, State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick, Glen Burnie High School Principal Vickie Plitt, State Board President James DeGraffenreidt, and Anne Arundel Superintendent Kevin Maxwell.

The field of education reaps amazing rewards – it helps students through the hurdles of new subject matter; it offers guidance to help students climb that academic mountain; and, one day these inspired learners will look back and say “thank you,” and that is truly the best reward.

Academic success cannot be obtained without dedicated leadership and strong instruction. The State Board last week took the time to honor this year’s local Teachers of the Year, who are lighting the way for Maryland’s inspired learners. This year’s honorees are: Joshua Cook, Allegany County; Erin Sullivan, Anne Arundel County, Brian Rainville, Baltimore City; Ralene Jacobson, Baltimore County, Doris O’Donnell, Calvert County; Jama Michaluk, Caroline County; Sharon Lilly Adedeji, Carroll County; Nicole Morris-Stauffer, Cecil County; Mark Howell, Charles County; Crystal Owens, Dorchester County; Michelle Shearer, Frederick County.

Also Robyn Nazelrod, Garrett County; Lisa Mullen, Harford County; Matthew Kinloch, Howard County; Joseph Evans, Kent County; James Schafer, Montgomery County; Tiffany Doster, Prince George’s County; Kristen Ann Hurlock, Queen Anne’s County; Arlene Sachs, St. Mary’s County; Tanya Briddell, Somerset County; Jacklyn Spiker, Talbot County; Marjorie Kellman, Washington County; Lisa King, Wicomico County; and Angela Landreth, Worcester County.

These teachers see no limits. They see no ceiling. And this is why we are saluting their accomplishments and saying “Thank you.”

* * *

Maryland’s application for Race to the Top was truly a team effort, involving a tremendous effort on the part of MSDE staff – led by our core team of Assistant State Superintendent Mary Cary; Assistant State Superintendent Colleen Seremet; Assistant State Superintendent Ann Chafin; and Project Manager Jim Foran. But we could not have pulled together our proposal without the guidance of the Executive Steering Committee.

Steering Committee members were: James H. DeGraffenreidt, Jr., president, Maryland State Board of Education, and steering committee co-chair; John Ratliff, director of policy, Office of the Governor; Edward Shirley, president, Public School Superintendents of Maryland; Cathy Allen, president, Maryland Association of Boards of Education; Sam Macer, president, Maryland PTA; William E. Kirwan, chancellor, University System of Maryland; June E. Streckfus, Executive Director, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education; Clara B. Floyd, president, Maryland State Education Association.

Also on the committee were Marietta English, president, Baltimore Teachers’ Union; Loretta Johnson, executive vice president, American Federation of Teachers; Judith Walker, president, Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals; Christine Handy-Collins, president, Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals; Tina M. Bjarekull, president, Maryland Independent College and University Association; and H. Clay Whitlow, executive director, Maryland Association of Community Colleges.


June 22-23 – State Board Meeting, Baltimore

June 28-30 – State Future Farmers of America Conference, Linthicum

News from the Board

(May 25, 2010)
The discussion regarding Race to the Top, the final application, and some public comment all top May News from the Board. Also included: Common Core, the Gulf oil spill, the Environmental Curriculum, and 2010-2011 Teachers of the Year! .

In the News

Maryland, District Join Second Round of Race to the Top Initiative
Washington Post

Prince George’s Union Signs on to Race to the Top
Washington Post

States Join to Establish Common Core Curriculum
Baltimore Sun

Maryland Schools to Observe Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week
Baltimore Sun

“The Bottom Line is: We need you,” Maryland State Superintendent Tells Graduates Gallaudet University’s On the Green

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Maryland last week delivered its application for the federal government’s $4.3 billion Race to the Top (RTTT) education initiative.

MSDE Project Manager Jim Foran and Anand Vaishnav of Education First sit next to a complete copy of Maryland’s RTTT proposal.  Including the narrative, budget, and appendices, the proposal clocked in at more than 1,000 pages.

MSDE Project Manager Jim Foran and Anand Vaishnav of Education First sit next to a complete copy of Maryland’s RTTT proposal. Including the narrative, budget, and appendices, the proposal clocked in at more than 1,000 pages.

The unprecedented federal program is aimed at boosting student achievement, reducing gaps in achievement among student subgroups, turning around struggling schools, and improving the teaching profession.  Maryland is eligible for up to $250 million in the grant program’s second round.

Twenty-two of Maryland’s 24 school systems joined in the application process, along with the Baltimore Teachers Union, the Prince George’s Education Association, and scores of other state education groups.  The Maryland State Board of Education last month voted unanimously to apply for the grant.

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick said that Maryland’s long history of strengthening struggling schools gives the State an advantage in this new phase of school improvement. 

“We have learned a lot about what works when it comes to school reform, and are poised to focus attention where our schools need it most,” Dr. Grasmick said.  “Our reforms are student-centered.  Our ultimate goal is to have each high school graduate leave school prepared for higher education or the world of work.  There is no more important mission facing education.”

Governor O’Malley last week signed an Executive Order creating the Maryland Council for Educator Effectiveness.  The Council—made up of teachers, principals, education experts, and elected officials—will spend the next seven months developing the model evaluation system for educators required by the Education Reform Act of 2010. 

“Today’s Executive Order will ensure the engagement of all stakeholders, including educators and other qualified experts, as we implement the reforms of the Education Reform Act of 2010,” Governor O’Malley said.  “As America’s number one public school system for the past two years, Maryland is in a unique position to continue leading by example.

Maryland’s RTTT proposal gained support from a variety of individuals and organizations.  More than 40 letters of support were received, including U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Rep. Elijah Cummings, Rep. Frank Kratovil, Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersburger, Rep. John Sarbanes, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr., Maryland Speaker Michael Busch, College Board President Gaston Caperton, University of Maryland Chancellor William Kirwan and other two- and four-year college presidents across the state, Maryland Business Roundtable (including organizations such as Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Verizon, IBM and CitiFinancial) the Maryland Public School Superintendents Association, and all 24 local Teachers of the Year.  All of these letters are included in the application appendices, which can be found on the RTTT site.

Maryland’s primary RTTT reforms will:

  • Revise the PreK-12 Maryland State Curriculum, assessments, and accountability system based on the Common Core Standards to assure that all graduates are college- and career-ready.  The State Board last month endorsed the draft Common Core Standards.
  • Build a statewide technology infrastructure that links all data elements with analytic and instructional tools to monitor and promote student achievement.
  • Redesign the model for preparation, development, retention, and evaluation of teachers and principals.
  • Fully implement the innovative Breakthrough Center approach for transforming low-performing schools and districts.

Maryland developed its RTTT proposal with unprecedented collaboration and transparency.  A draft application was placed on the MSDE website in January inviting commentary, and state officials held more than 80 meetings with local systems, organizations, and teacher’s associations over the past six months.  In addition, the State held 40 focus groups with teachers and principals.
Maryland’s public schools, recently ranked for the second straight year as the nation’s best by Education Week, have benefited from earlier reform efforts.  The Sondheim Commission report in 1989 launched the State’s move into school accountability before the rest of the nation.  A new State Curriculum, new collaboration and funding brought about by the Bridge to Excellence Act, and new student-level accountability programs followed about a decade later. 

Maryland’s Race to the Top Application, as well as its appendices, are available here.

The Governor’s Executive Order creating the Maryland Council for Educator Effectiveness can be found by clicking here.


The Maryland State Board of Education last month endorsed the Common Core State Standards in English-language arts and mathematics for grades K-12.

Final approval is expected later this summer, after Board members have the chance to review the final standards.  The final standards document was released last week.

The Common Core Standards is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  Maryland became involved in the project last June, when Governor Martin O’Malley and State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick signed on to the initiative along with representatives from 48 other states and two territories.

“These new standards will set a high standard for all Maryland students, and the majority of students across the nation,” Dr. Grasmick said.  “MSDE staff has been closely involved in the project from the very beginning, and we are pleased with the standards document as it has evolved.”

The Common Core Standards began with the setting of college- and career-ready standards, from which the rest of the project took root. 

After the State Board gives final approval to the Common Core State Standards, Maryland will begin a broad-based year-long process to revise its curriculum to align with the new document.  Hundreds of classroom educators, instructional leaders, administrators, and higher education representatives will help State officials refine and align the current Maryland State Curriculum.  The new State Curriculum is expected to be ready for State Board adoption in June 2011, an accelerated process made possible by the State’s previous work in this area.

Although the U.S. Department of Education is not directly involved in this initiative, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has embraced the Common Core movement, and the Race to the Top program looks favorably on states that have signed on.

For further information about the Common Core, see

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