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September 1, 2010
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

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

Maryland had wonderful news last week with the announcement that our State has been awarded $250 million through the U.S. Department of Education’s $4.3 billion Race to the Top (RTTT) program.

This is great for our State, and a great achievement we can all share. I am proud of the way MSDE worked in partnership with scores of educators across the State to develop the grant application, and it received remarkable support. Twenty-two of our 24 systems signed on, along with the Baltimore Teachers Union and the Prince George’s Education Association. It was a team effort.

What turned the tide for Maryland’s application, we believe, is the fact that we have a proven track record. Maryland has worked successfully with low-performing schools for many years, achieving a number of important victories along the way. Our State also benefits from strong, bipartisan support of public education.

The federal government awarded Maryland this grant because it believes our schools can do the job. Those officials are absolutely right. The work has already begun.

* * *

Education is truly a team effort. I could see the importance of strong leadership, bold vision, hard-working teachers, and community support at G. James Gholson Middle School in Prince George’s County. Co-principals Ebony Cross and Lacey Robinson are working hard to transform that school into a model program.

When NBC News called us last week for a suggestion of a school to feature on its evening broadcast, we didn’t hesitate: Gholson Middle is primed for great strides.

You can watch the video by clicking here.

* * *

Every successful team has great team players. Let me introduce you to a member of our team.
Long-time MSDE employee Miriam Silverman is honored by Governor O’Malley.

Long-time MSDE employee Miriam Silverman is honored by Governor O’Malley.

Miriam Silverman provides critical administrative support for our Division of Student, Family, and School Support, working closely with Assistant State Superintendent Ann Chafin and her staff. She is a bundle of energy, and gets the job done with a smile on her face.

She’s been getting the job done for 47 years here at MSDE; Miriam just turned 93 years of age. The Baltimore Jewish Times recently featured Miriam, and Governor O’Malley honored her during last week’s State Board meeting by declaring Aug. 24 “Miriam Silverman Day” in Maryland.

Miriam is one-of-a-kind, and MSDE is fortunate to have her on our team!


September 1– American Diploma Project Leadership Team, Alexandria, Virginia

September 13-17 – Homegrown School Lunch Week

September 21-22 – State Board Meeting, Baltimore

News from the Board
August 24, 2010
Maryland celebrates a huge week, winning a Race to the Top grant. Find out where the money goes in the local jurisdictions and see the Governor's visit and hear reaction. Also, see MSA science results, a discussion on suspensions and expulsions, Dale Smith and Jim Foran win appointments, and Miriam Silverman shine!
Dr. Grasmick announces RTTT Award

1st Day of School
August 30, 2010
Schools now are open all over Maryland. Mt. Washington Elementary celebrated by inviting State Schools Superintendent Nancy Grasmick and City Schools CEO Andres Alonso to help welcome the children.
Boys walking to school

In the News

Race to the Top Winner Rejoice, Losers Parse Scores Education Week

Students, City and State Officials Gear Up for New School Year
Baltimore Sun

Efforts to Revamp Schools by DC, Maryland Result in $325 Million
Washington Post

Rewarding Reform
Baltimore Sun

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Maryland last week was awarded one of the federal government’s coveted Race to the Top (RTTT) education grants.  The State’s grant is worth up to $250 million over four years.

Governor O’Malley, State Superintendent Grasmick, and the Maryland State Board of Education celebrated the Race to the Top win.

Governor O’Malley, State Superintendent Grasmick, and the Maryland State Board of Education celebrated the Race to the Top win.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan made the announcement in Washington, DC.  The unprecedented $4.3 billion 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 should feel extraordinarily good about [its] efforts,” Secretary Duncan told reporters after the announcement.  “Maryland’s been one of those states that have helped shaped the national conversation about education reform for a while.”

A delegation led by Governor Martin O’Malley and State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick outlined the State’s plans for  RTTT before a U.S. Department of Education panel just three weeks ago, leading to last week’s announcement.  The Governor traveled to the State Board meeting last week to thank State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick, MSDE staff, and Maryland educators for their support of the initiative.

“We are honored to have been selected as a winner of this prestigious competition,” said Governor O’Malley.  “Maryland remains the nation’s number one public school system and it’s our goal to continue implementing strategic reforms, allowing our students to not only compete with their peers across the nation, but to be globally competitive as well.”

Dr. Grasmick emphasized that Maryland’s RTTT program builds on the State’s many accomplishments, while targeting areas that have proved difficult for every state: improving achievement for all students and reducing long-term gaps in performance among student subgroups.

“Maryland’s education reforms have moved our students forward, and our school system is the envy of the nation,” Dr. Grasmick said.  “We must continue that momentum and give all students the education they deserve.   With the help of these important funds, Maryland intends to bolster our data systems, improve instruction, and attract and maintain a stronger educational workforce.”

Maryland was one of nine states and the District of Columbia receiving a grant in the second round of RTTT.  Delaware and Tennessee were the only grantees selected in the first round of the initiative earlier this year.  Maryland did not apply in the first round.

Maryland spent the past nine months crafting a detailed grant proposal designed to continue the momentum of the nation’s number one ranked education system, using a collaborative and transparent process.  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 and business groups. 

Governor O’Malley in June 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 six months developing a model evaluation system for educators required by the Education Reform Act of 2010.  The Council began meeting last week.

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 in June endorsed the 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.

For more information, see the State’s RTTT website, by clicking here.


Public schools began to open in Maryland last week, as more than one million students prepare to start the 2010-2011 school year.

Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, State Superintendent Grasmick, and Prince George’s Superintendent William Hite help decorate a wall at the newly opened Barack Obama Elementary School in Upper Marlboro.

Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, State Superintendent Grasmick, and Prince George’s Superintendent William Hite help decorate a wall at the newly opened Barack Obama Elementary School in Upper Marlboro.

All Maryland school systems will be in session before September.  By the time all schools are open August 31, approximately 850,000 K-12 students will fill classrooms and more than 250,000 children will be involved in some form of pre-K, Head Start, or licensed childcare program.

Maryland’s highly regarded public school system, ranked first in the nation by the leading education newspaper for the second straight year, is continuing to move forward.  The state’s system is entering its third wave of reform, strengthening its educational standards, building a new technology infrastructure, and improving teacher and principal preparation and evaluation.

“Our students deserve the nation’s best education system, and we know that by standing still we would be falling behind,” said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick.  “Maryland’s schools and its cadre of educators are moving forward.  The excitement running through our schools this fall is contagious.”

Among the headlines for the new school year:

  • Teacher shortages are continuing to fade. Although there remain some areas of shortage, Maryland’s long struggle to fill classrooms with highly qualified teachers is seems to have shrunk for the third consecutive year.
  • Maryland’s “Third Wave of School Reform” taking hold.  Maryland this month presented federal officials with its plan for the Race to the Top grant program.  Even without the federal funding, further improvements to the State’s education system are in the offing.
  • National standards are closer to becoming reality.  The Maryland State Board this summer approved the Common Core State Standards.  Maryland standards are currently being analyzed along with the Common Core to see where gaps might exist.
  • Strengthening college and career readiness.  Half of all Maryland high school students, grade 10-12, are enrolled in career and technology education, and nearly half of career education graduates have completed the coursework necessary for entrance into the University of Maryland System.
  • Public charter schools continue their growth in Maryland.  Three new schools are scheduled to open this fall, bringing the total to 44.
  • New foreign language programs are being offered. Several school systems are increasing their offerings in foreign language this fall.
  • New requirements for financial literacy, environmental education being developed. Maryland educators are helping to develop new programs that will be incorporated into the current curriculum.
  • More school systems are partnering with early childhood programs to provide pre-kindergarten. Early learning programs give children a great start on the academic career, and many systems are getting involved.

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