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February 14, 2011
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

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

If you look closely, you will see a subtle change in our logo. For nearly a decade, we’ve had the phrase, “Achievement Matters Most” as part of the Maryland State Department of Education logo. Student achievement remains our highest priority, but the new phrase focuses on our state’s next phase of school reform, “Preparing World-Class Students.”

Through our groundbreaking Race to the Top initiative, our goal is to move Maryland’s public education system from first in the nation – as it has been ranked by Education Week for the past three years – to first in the world. Maryland joined states across the nation in embracing the Common Core State Standards, which will benchmark the achievement of our students with those in other nations.

I spend a great deal of time in Maryland classrooms and I know our students are up to the task. We are committed to better schools in every neighborhood, providing outstanding instruction to these wonderful young people.

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Maryland’s success in the Advanced Placement (AP) program is something for our State to be proud of (see accompanying story.) It is a story of consistent improvement, and some big steps made by schools and school systems without a history of AP in their classrooms.

I visited several schools deeply involved in AP last week, including Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George’s County and Arundel High School in Anne Arundel County. At those schools I met high school students who had taken three, four, five, and more AP classes. They were impressive young men and women, and they are taking steps designed to assure themselves of a great first step in college. These were students who did not shy away from challenging subject matter, such as calculus and physics. Rather, they relished the bar that AP set for them.

Visits to schools like these are always gratifying. I am convinced that Maryland will remain a world leader in the high-technology and biomedical fields thanks to the innovation these young people will bring to the table.

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MSDE continues to highlight top schools. Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Towson High School in Baltimore County, one of our Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence.

Congratulations to Principal Jane Barranger, staff, and the students at Towson High. With nearly 100 percent of its student body proficient in both mathematics and reading, it is a school our entire State can be proud of.

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Don’t forget to connect with MSDE on Facebook. Our department’s Facebook page provides regular updates on state initiatives, MSDE videos, and links to education news throughout the State.


February 16 – Teacher of the Year Recognition, State House, Annapolis

February 22-23 – State Board Meeting, Baltimore

Maryland #1 in Advanced Placement, 3rd Year in a Row!
February 9, 2011
Maryland ranks first in the nation for the 3rd year in a row in the percentage of seniors scoring mastery level on Advanced Placement tests. Dr. Grasmick visits Eleanor Roosevelt HS in Greenbelt to celebrate the news.

News from the Board
January 25, 2011
In January, the Board contracts with the University System of Maryland to track Maryland's Race to the Top application for quicker feedback on the ongoing process. The effort will be headquartered at Towson University. Also, Baltimore City's annual report, and five Maryland schools achieve National Blue Ribbon status.

In the News

Maryland Tops Nation in AP Scores
WBAL Television

Disappearing Jobs for People with Disabilities
The Business Monthly

Officials and Students Celebrate Towson High’s Blue Ribbon Status
The Towson Times

Maryland Schools Lead Nation in AP
Annapolis Capital

More Students Nationally Fail AP Exams
Wall Street Journal

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Maryland education tallied another number one national ranking last week as the College Board released its annual report on the rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) program.

Percentage of Maryland seniors scoring in the college mastery range on an AP exam

Percentage of Maryland seniors scoring in the college mastery range on an AP exam

The percentage of Maryland seniors who earned a score of 3 or higher on one or more AP exams reached 26.4 percent in 2010, the highest percentage in the nation for the third straight year and 1.6 percentage points better than 2009, according to the College Board’s “Annual AP Report to the Nation.”  A score of 3 or better is considered “college mastery level” on the AP exams, and many colleges and universities award college credit for high school students scoring in that range.  

Maryland also ranked first in the nation in the percentage of graduating seniors who had taken AP exams in the mathematics and sciences disciplines.  Maryland placed second to Florida in the total percentage of seniors completing an AP exam (43.4 percent to Florida’s 43.5).  In addition, Maryland leads the nation in African American student improvement on the exams.

The College Board sent a delegation to Maryland last Wednesday to tour several schools that have made strides in the AP program: Arbutus Middle School in Baltimore County, which has a Springboard program to help lead students to more difficult academics; Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George’s County; and Arundel High School in Anne Arundel County.

Peter Negroni, Senior Vice President with the College Board, said the success of Maryland is something other states would love to have.  “Everybody is chasing the dream, but you have reached it,” he told students and staff at Eleanor Roosevelt.  “You have reached it and yet you still aren’t satisfied.”

Last week’s announcement follows last month’s news that Maryland schools ranked first in the nation by Education Week’s “Quality Counts” report—also for the third straight year.  That report looked at a variety of policy and performance measures, including last year’s AP data.

College Board President Gaston Caperton announced the data in a New York news conference.  “Congratulations to the state of Maryland,” he said.  “Under Dr. Grasmick's leadership, Maryland leads the nation with the highest percentage of public school seniors succeeding in AP for the third straight year in a row. Maryland students are rising to the challenge set by educators across the state and, as a result, more students graduate high school armed with the tools to succeed in college and beyond.”

The Maryland State Department of Education has worked in close partnership with the College Board to strengthen the AP program by increasing access to all students – especially to students from under-represented groups.  The program also has provided ongoing professional development to teachers, school counselors, and administrators.  The effort has paid big dividends, as 22 of Maryland’s 24 systems have a 20 percent or greater participation rate among high school seniors, and 15 districts have 30 percent or greater.

“Advanced Placement Report to the Nation: 2011,” the College Board’s seventh annual analysis of the college-level assessment program, gives many high marks to efforts taking place in Maryland schools.  For example:

  • Just 10 years ago, in 2001, Maryland had just 14.8 percent of its seniors scoring at the college mastery level. That number has risen 11.6 points over the past decade, the largest rate of improvement in the nation.
  • Maryland is one of 14 states recognized for having eliminated the equity and excellence gap in AP achievement for the Hispanic and Latino population.  While Hispanics were 7.1 percent of the Maryland population last year, 7.7 percent of the seniors who scored 3 or higher on the AP exam were Hispanic.
  • Maryland also has seen a big increase in the percentage of Black/African American students having success on the AP assessments.  Nearly 10 percent (9.9 percent) of students receiving a grade of 3 or better in Maryland were Black/African American.  That is the fifth-highest percentage among states in the nation.
  • Two Maryland schools are being recognized by the College Board for the success of Black/African American students in AP: Eleanor Roosevelt (for Biology, Chemistry, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition), and Paint Branch High School in Montgomery County (for World History).

Complete results are available at


Maryland has become the first State in the nation to take part in the College Completion Agenda: State Capitals Campaign, a project of the College Board and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick addresses the State Capitals Campaign gathering.

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick addresses the State Capitals Campaign gathering.

Governor Martin O’Malley, State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, and other State officials discussed the importance of a college education in an event at the State House on Jan. 31.  The goal is for the college graduation rate to hit 55 percent by 2025.

Maryland’s college completion rate already ranks in the top 10 nationally, but officials acknowledge there is more work to do.

“Pre-K to grade 12 is the pipeline,” Dr. Grasmick said.  “Unless we get the pipeline right, it places an unrealistic expectation on higher education.”

Maryland top-ranked public school system continues to make dramatic strides, and much of that is due to the coordination between Prek-12 and higher education.  “It was not by accident that the College Board chose Maryland to launch this campaign,” said University of Maryland System Chancellor William “Brit” Kirwan.  "Maryland is seen by many as the model of cooperation."


The Maryland Education Bulletin is published by Maryland State Department of Education, 200 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201. 410-767-0600. 410-333-6442 TTY. 1-888-246-0016. Nancy S Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools.  Stephen Brooks, Deputy State Superintendent, Office of Finance. John E Smeallie, Deputy State Superintendent, Office of Administration. James H DeGraffenreidt, Junior, President, State Board of Education. Martin O’Malley, Governor. A publication of the Office of Academic Policy. Bill Reinhard and Gail Tucker, Editors. MSDE Videos: