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January 25, 2011
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

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

The new year has brought us more good news, as Education Week ranked the Maryland public school system as the best in the nation. (See accompanying article.)

Our success is a true team effort. Iíd like to thank the staff of the Maryland State Department of Education, members of the Maryland State Board of Education, and local system superintendents, administrators, and teachers for continuing their focus on student achievement. Education is a bipartisan cause in our State, and weíve had unflinching support from the Governor, the Maryland General Assembly, educators, parents, and the public at large.

Also critical to Marylandís success has been the efforts of the business community. The business leaders I talk to really understand the need for strong schools and prepared graduates. Our State must remain competitive, both domestically and internationally, and a strong preK-12 education system is key to that effort.

* * *

We congratulate Maryland Teacher of the Year Michelle Shearer, who this month was named one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year.

Ms. Shearer, a chemistry teacher at Urbana High School in Frederick County, was named Marylandís winner last October. She received her bachelorís in chemistry from Princeton and a masterís in deaf educator from McDaniel College, and is Marylandís 2009 recipient of the Siemens Award for AP Teaching.

Michelle will be competing against teachers from Florida, Illinois, and Montana for the national honor. Good luck, Michelle!

* * *

Maryland has lost one of its most important and beloved public citizens. R. Sargent Shriver, who died last week, spent his lifetime attempting to improve the life of others, both in this nation and around the world. Launching Head Start, the Peace Corps, and numerous other programs, Mr. Shriverís accomplishments are legion.

Thankfully, Mr. Shriverís work will live on in the many programs he started. We were fortunate to have him among us for so many years. His work inspires us all.

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Donít forget to connect with MSDE on Facebook. Our departmentís Facebook page provides regular updates on state initiatives, MSDE videos, and links to education news throughout the State.


January 25 2011 – State Board Meeting, Baltimore

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

February 22-23 Ė State Board Meeting, Baltimore

Education Week - 3 in a Row!
January 11, 2011
For the third year running, Maryland public schools have been ranked number one by Education Week. Dr. Nancy Grasmick addresses the gathering at a Washington D.C. news conference held by the nation's leading education newspaper.

Education Week - Number One WrapUp
January 11, 2011
Catch the short version -- the news wrapup and highlights of the Washington, DC news conference where Education Week names Maryland public schools Number One nationwide for the 3rd year in a row.

In the News

Maryland Schools Rank Number One for Third Year in a Row
Baltimore Sun

Maryland Schools Top National Ranking List
Ocean City Today

Maryland Schools Ranked Nationís Best
Afro-American (Baltimore)

State, County Leaders Kick Off Career Presentation at Library
Southern Maryland News

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The Maryland public school system finds itself in a familiar place: ranking first in nation for the third straight year, according to an independent national report released earlier this month.

State Superintendent Grasmick discussed Maryland’s success with Education Week editor Mark Bomster in an event in Washington, DC earlier this month.

State Superintendent Grasmick discussed Marylandís success with Education Week editor Mark Bomster in an event in Washington, DC earlier this month.

Education Week, the nation’s leading education newspaper, looked at data in six critical categories over the past three years, and once again placed Maryland’s state education system at the very top of national rankings. 

Maryland’s grade of B+ placed at the top of the list in Education Week’s annual “Quality Counts” tally.  New York and Massachusetts again followed Maryland, with B grades.  Most states received grades in the C ranges or below, according to the report. 

“Even during these difficult economic times, we’ve worked with students, teachers and parents to continually improve and reform our public education system,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. "For Maryland to be a winner in this new economy we must move forward by creating and saving jobs through innovation and that includes protecting our nation’s-best public school system.  We must also be willing to continue making tough choices so that we can protect our shared priorities; priorities that will allow us to make this new economy ours."

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick traveled to Washington, DC for the announcement.  She said that Maryland’s goal is to provide outstanding educational opportunities for every child in every neighborhood.

 “Recognition of our State’s track record of success is gratifying to all of us who work to strengthen our schools, and Quality Counts provides us with some important measurement tools,” Dr. Grasmick added.  “However, we have no intention of raising a victory flag as yet.”

Maryland has already taken the next step in its school reform plan.  Last year, Maryland became one of a handful of states to be awarded a portion of the federal government’s $4.3 billion Race to the Top funding.  With the funds, the State is strengthening standards for students and educators, building a new data warehouse, and constructing a foundation for further educational improvement.

Maryland’s 2011 ranking in Quality Counts is based on State education policies and student performance that reflect nearly two decades of work on a preK-12 curriculum; state accountability and standards; teacher effectiveness; and work on school readiness, high school reform, and preparation for college and the workplace.  Quality Counts uses more than 50 indicators to develop its report.

Most of the state-level data gathered by Education Week comes from a policy survey of the states conducted in the summer and fall of 2010.  In addition, the publication draws on data from such organizations as the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Bureau of the Census, and the American Federation of Teachers.

For more information, see the Education Week website,


Children participating in early learning programs offered through Maryland’s Judy Centers have an academic jump start on their peers, according to the results of a new report.

Young children who enter kindergarten after taking advantage of the Judy Center offerings score higher in kindergarten readiness in all seven domains gauged by the Maryland Model for School Readiness Assessment Program, according to the new report.

“An Analysis of Influence of Judy Center Services,” released last week is based on research conducted during the 2008 and 2009 school year by the Maryland State Department of Education.  The study looked into the effect of the Judith P. Hoyer Early Child Care and Education Enhancement Program—the Judy Centers—on children starting kindergarten.

"Classroom education is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to ensuring that all children succeed," said Congressman Steny Hoyer, during an event in Prince George’s County this month. "Today’s report from MDSE proves that Maryland's Judy Centers – which partner with the community to provide children and their families with a full range of services – have been a success in giving children the tools they need to come to school prepared to learn and excel. We believe we can build on this idea to help more children throughout the country reach their full potential. In the coming weeks, I will introduce legislation in the House that would apply the successes we have had in Maryland’s Judy Centers to expand the idea of full-service education throughout the country, so that children receive supportive wraparound services in addition to high quality education."

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said the report confirms what educators have long understood: investment in early learning pays big dividends throughout a child’s schooling.

“The Judy Centers give children a running start on the rest of their educational program,” Dr. Grasmick explained.  “We know that when we give young people a strong foundation for learning, they will thrive and prosper.  The foundation provided by our Judy Centers is rock solid.”

Maryland launched the Judy Center program a decade ago.  The 25 centers, located in 22 local school systems, not only offer early education programs for children, but also support services for children birth through kindergarten and their families who reside in specific Title 1 School Districts. 

A primary objective of the Judy Centers is to ensure that young children, including those who are disadvantaged by poverty, limited English proficiency, or special education needs, are fully ready for the rigors of kindergarten when they walk through the classroom door.  The Centers are named in honor of the late Judith P. Hoyer, an early childhood advocate, supervisor of early childhood for the Prince George’s County Public Schools, and wife of Rep. Hoyer.

Maryland’s public school system has been ranked as the nation’s finest for three straight years, thanks in part to its innovative early childhood development program.  MSDE is a national leader in the evaluation of early childhood learning, establishing an annual evaluation of what entering kindergartners know and are able to do.

For more information about Maryland’s Judy Center programs, click here. For complete results of the new study, click here.


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: