Press Release: Maryland Continues To Make Strides With Race To The Top
Federal Report Highlights Maryland's Efforts To Support Educators, Implement New Standards
For Immediate Release Contact: Bill Reinhard, 410.767.0486
Baltimore, MD (March 19, 2014)
The Maryland’s efforts to improve education through its Race to the Top program are paying off, according to a new report released today.
The U.S. Department of Education’s “Race to the Top Year Three Maryland Report” reflects on the State’s numerous accomplishments, as well as some challenges, during the third year of the grant program, from October 2012 through September 2013.
The report specifically recognizes Maryland’s success in providing resources and training to educators, and school and district leaders to support the transition to the State’s new standards, assessments, evaluations.
State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery said now that Maryland is well into year four of the grant, the State must not lose sight of its overall goal of preparing world-class students.
“Maryland is completing its Race to the Top program with fidelity, but there is still a great deal of work to do,” Dr. Lowery said. “We must continue to support our teachers with the resources they need to be successful in the classroom and support our students by providing them with the skills and knowledge to be successful in college and careers, without remediation.”
The report highlights a number of Maryland’s year three achievements, including:
- Supporting Educators During Transition to New College and Career-Ready Standards – Educators were provided with Maryland’s new State curriculum frameworks, which were developed with input from hundreds of classroom educators, instructional leaders, administrators, and higher education representatives, as well as a variety of new, standards-aligned instructional resources. Teachers and principals from every school in the State participated in professional development on the standards at the summer 2013 Educator Effectiveness Academies.
- Using Data Systems to Improve Instruction – The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) launched its new combined Learning Management and Curriculum Management Systems, dubbed Blackboard Learn, which houses an extensive online repository of instructional, professional development, and informational resources aligned to the State’s new standards.
- Developing and Supporting Great Teachers and Leaders – Maryland continued to refine its new Teacher and Principal Evaluation system based on local feedback and findings from a statewide field test of the evaluations. One such refinement was the addition of Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) as a measure of student growth. Several initiatives were also successful in improving the preparation, training, and support for teachers and leaders, including the Teacher Induction Academy and New Leaders for New Schools program.
- Strategic Support for Struggling Schools – Maryland’s Breakthrough Center continues to provide intensive and individualized support to help turnaround the State’s lowest-achieving schools, including professional development for teachers in these schools on the new standards.
- Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education – The State adopted the Next Generation Science Standards and developed Maryland’s STEM Standards of Practice. MSDE expanded its partnership with the State’s business community to develop additional STEM resources for educators. Several districts are successfully implementing Maryland’s innovative World Languages Pipeline program, which integrates STEM content into foreign language instruction. MSDE continues to build its Elementary STEM Network – partnering with colleges and universities across the State to launch teacher preparation programs focusing on elementary STEM education.
Maryland has already made significant progress in addressing the challenge areas listed in the report. Regular feedback from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), local school system leadership, teachers, and principals enabled the State to address concerns early on and adjust its work accordingly, as described below:
- Assessing the quality of districts’ implementation of new standards – Since the start of the 2013-2014 school year, MSDE has held regular meetings with district leaders to assess the progress and quality of implementation, and provide needed support. MSDE-led support teams are also working directly with districts to provide instructional and technical support, and professional development opportunities. Surveys of educators, principals, administrators, and district staff are also being conducted to assess these efforts.
- Building data systems to support instruction – MSDE has contracted with a vendor to begin developing resources for the State’s Instructional Toolkit, which will provide an online collection of standards-aligned materials for educators. Maryland, in consultation with USDE, local school systems, and other states, is taking a new approach to its formative assessment project, by incorporating formative assessments into a more comprehensive test item bank system. Work on Maryland’s data dashboards has also progressed – 24 dashboards have been developed and training on their use is underway.
- Developing new evaluation models – In school year 2013-2014, all 22 districts implemented new evaluations for teachers and principals. Concurrently, MSDE initiated a comprehensive, year-long professional development program to assist districts with all aspects of the evaluation process and provide one-on-one support. Through regular feedback and quality checks, Maryland’s evaluation system continues to build credibility, strength, and recognition. The head of MSDE’s evaluation efforts was recently tapped to chair a national panel on principal evaluation standards.
- Communicating and providing training on new resources and tools – MSDE has developed a Comprehensive Training Plan to coordinate outreach and training to users in school systems across the State. Several training sessions have already occurred and resources are being posted online to provide greater access.
Maryland was awarded a four-year, $250 million Race to the Top grant from USDE in 2010 – one of 11 states and the District of Columbia to receive funding during the program’s first and second rounds. The grant is aimed at boosting student achievement, reducing gaps in achievement among student subgroups, turning around struggling schools, and improving the teaching profession.
You can find Maryland’s full report, as well as those for the other 11 Race to the Top phase one and two states, at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html.
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