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November 1, 2011
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Interim State Superintendent of Schools Bernard J. Sadusky

A few words from Interim State Superintendent of Schools Bernard J. Sadusky

Congratulations to Baltimore County’s Joshua Parker, our 2011-2012 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

Baltimore County Superintendent Joe Hairston congratulated new Teacher of the Year Joshua Parker at last month’s gala.

Baltimore County Superintendent Joe Hairston congratulated new Teacher of the Year Joshua Parker at last month’s gala.

Joshua teaches English/language arts at Windsor Mill Middle School and serves as department chair for English/Reading/World Languages at the school. A graduate of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, he also holds degrees from Towson University. His goal, Joshua says, is to have all students succeed to their highest potential.

Being an outstanding classroom teacher would be enough, but like so many educators, Joshua goes above and beyond. He organized a middle school all-male reading club; directed a top-10 finishing Black Saga Team; coached a boys’ junior varsity basketball team; coordinated a summer program directed at engaging local youth; and launched a comprehensive after-school program at two middle schools.

Absolutely impressive. And yet it couldn’t have been an easy decision for the judges. The other 23 local teachers of the year each had amazing credentials. There are many reasons why Maryland has ranked as the nation’s number one school system for three consecutive years, but chief among them is this: we are fortunate to have outstanding educators throughout our State.

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Open Forums began last week to provide input on the leadership characteristics necessary for the next State Superintendent, and I encourage you to take part.

Developed by representatives of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, the consulting firm the State Board selected to help with the search process, the forums provide the opportunity for the public to provide the Board with guidance on the type of individual who will take over the leadership of Maryland schools.

Two sessions will be held at each location – 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. There is no need to sign up in advance.

The remaining forums will be held in the school auditorium at the following locations:

November 2 – Laurel High School (Prince George’s County), 800 Cherry Lane, Laurel, MD 20707

November 3 – Seneca Valley High School (Montgomery County) 19401 Crystal Rock Drive, Germantown, MD 20874

November 7 – Huntington High School (Calvert County), 4125 N. Solomons Island Road, Huntington, MD 20639.

November 7 – Mountain Ridge High School (Allegany County), 100 Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick Lane, Frostburg, MD 21532

November 9 – Edgewood High School (Harford County) 2415 Willoughby Beach Road, Edgewood, MD 21040

The consulting firm also has developed an online survey for those who cannot make it to the open forums or who have more to add. The survey can be found here.

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Follow MSDE on Facebook!
Follow MSDE on Facebook!

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.


November 14 – Second Annual Conference on the Prevention of Bullying and Harassment, Turf Valley, Howard County

December 6 – State Board Meeting, Baltimore

News from the Board
October 25, 2011
Maryland applies for a mid-February waiver involving NCLB, RTTT money now flows to local systems, Maryland's graduation rate hits it's highest-ever percentage, minimum academic standards for athletes, and more.

Stop Bullying: Speak Up!
October 6, 2011
The Governor, First Lady, Maryland Schools Interim Superintendent Bernard Sadusky, and surprise guests kick off Bullying Prevention Month in Maryland. The festivities took place at Arundel High School in Anne Arundel County.

Race to the Top

Race to the Top Monthly Update
October 2011 Issue, Click Here.

In the News

Maryland Identified as Leader in Teacher Evaluations,”
Baltimore Sun, October 27

Maryland in the Running for $50 Million in Federal Funds,”
WBAL Television, October 20

Maryland Seeks Superintendent Suggestions Online,”
WBAL Television, October 20

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The Maryland State Department of Education has taken another bold step toward eliminating chronic achievement gaps that plague classrooms.   The Department is taking aim at that goal by improving early childhood education.

U.S. Department of Education Logo

MSDE, on behalf of the Governor and his Advisory Council of Early Care and Education, last month submitted its proposal to the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Fund (RTTT-ELC).  The program, co-managed by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is designed to narrow the school readiness gap for children in poverty, English language learners, and those with disabilities.

Maryland is eligible for $50 million over four years.  The grant program builds on the success of the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program.  Maryland in August 2010 was one of a handful of states to be awarded a RTTT grant, which carried with it $250 million over four years to boost the State’s third phase of education reform. 

Interim State Superintendent of Schools Bernard Sadusky said Maryland’s entrance into the latest Race to the Top competition meshes well with the State’s other efforts to improve student performance.

“The achievement gap we observe in education can most effectively be addressed by giving our young children a robust and high quality foundation for success,” Dr. Sadusky said.  “This proposal offers a serious remedy in solving this issue.  Strong learning habits are developed at a very early age.”

Maryland has developed an ambitious slate of projects in its RTTT-ELC application.  They range from strengthening the Maryland EXCELS child care rating system to revising the early learning standards to align with the Common Core to refining the State’s assessment system for pre-school children. 

Those efforts would combine with other work already ongoing in the State.  Maryland has a nationally recognized early childhood development program, providing unique early learning opportunities, strong oversight of childcare, and other programs designed to give the State’s youngest learners a leg up in school. 

MSDE’s development of its RTTT Early Learning Challenge proposal was the result of the Division of Early Childhood Development’s collaboration with partners.

“We received support and commitments from numerous early childhood and K-12 education stakeholders,” said Dr. Rolf Grafwallner, Assistant State Superintendent for the Division of Early Childhood Development.  “Everyone wants Maryland to succeed.  Dozens of state and local agencies, associations, and others interested in early childhood helped craft the proposal.”

Over the past 10 years, Maryland has demonstrated that children starting their formal school career have improved their school readiness skills over time.  In 2001, 49 percent of all children entering kindergarten were assessed as being ready for school, while 81 percent were kindergarten ready in 2010.

“The data from the kindergarten assessment is a testimony that our early childhood community stepped up to the plate and focused on what matters to young children – a successful transition to school,” added Grafwallner.  “Our proposal will build on the past successes to make sure that being ready for success is accessible to every child.”

The decision about the awards will be announced late December, and implementation will start January of 2012.


Maryland student athletes are currently required to be “making satisfactory progress toward graduation” before being allowed to participate in interscholastic sports.  The Maryland General Assembly has asked the State Board to add some specificity to those regulations.

Ned Sparks (right), executive director of the MPSSA, discusses academic standards for athletes along with Susan Johnson, principal of Calvert High School in Calvert County, and Dr. David Cox, superintendent of Allegany County Public Schools.

Ned Sparks (right), executive director of the MPSSA, discusses academic standards for athletes along with Susan Johnson, principal of Calvert High School in Calvert County, and Dr. David Cox, superintendent of Allegany County Public Schools.

An advisory committee last week recommended that the Board adopt a 2.0 grade point average as a minimum academic requirement.  Board members are expected to act on the recommendation next month.

Sixteen of the State’s 24 school systems already use a 2.0 grade point as their threshold for participation in athletics, said Ned Sparks, Executive Director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association and a member of the advisory committee.  

But local superintendents would prefer that systems maintain control of setting minimum academic standards.  Dr. David Cox, Superintendent of Allegany County Schools and a member of the committee, said there really hasn’t been an issue of one system having lower standards than another.

Board members and committee members alike agreed that interscholastic athletics can be a powerful motivating factor for some students at risk of falling behind academically.  “It can provide a sense of unity, help increase attendance, improve achievement, and help students aspire to a higher level of education,” said Susan Johnson, principal of Calvert High School in Calvert County.

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. Interim State Superintendent of Schools Bernard J. Sadusky.  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: