Maryland today delivered its application for the federal government’s $4.3 billion Race to the Top (RTTT) education initiative.
The unprecedented 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 is eligible for up to $250 million in the grant program’s second round.
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 groups. The Maryland State Board of Education last week voted unanimously to apply for the grant.
State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick said that Maryland’s long history of strengthening struggling schools gives the State an advantage in this new phase of school improvement.
“We have learned a lot about what works when it comes to school reform, and are poised to focus attention where our schools need it most,” Dr. Grasmick said. “Our reforms are student-centered. Our ultimate goal is to have each high school graduate leave school prepared for higher education or the world of work. There is no more important mission facing education.”
Governor O’Malley today 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 seven months developing the model evaluation system for educators required by the Education Reform Act of 2010.
“Today’s Executive Order will ensure the engagement of all stakeholders, including educators and other qualified experts, as we implement the reforms of the Education Reform Act of 2010,” Governor O’Malley said. “As America’s number one public school system for the past two years, Maryland is in a unique position to continue leading by example. The new reforms improve even further our public school system, and this Executive Order will ensure that the education community is properly engaged throughout this process.”
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 last week endorsed the draft 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.
Maryland developed its RTTT proposal with unprecedented collaboration and transparency. A draft application was placed on the MSDE website in January inviting commentary, and state officials held more than 80 meetings with local systems, organizations, and teacher’s associations over the past six months. In addition, the State held 40 focus groups with teachers and principals.
To help frame Maryland’s proposal, MSDE called on a top-level committee of educators and leaders. In addition to Dr. Grasmick, Steering Committee members were: James H. DeGraffenreidt, Jr., president, Maryland State Board of Education, and steering committee co-chair; John Ratliff, director of policy, Office of the Governor; Edward Shirley, president, Public School Superintendents of Maryland; Cathy Allen, president, Maryland Association of Boards of Education; Sam Macer, president, Maryland PTA; William E. Kirwan, chancellor, University System of Maryland; June E. Streckfus, Executive Director, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education; Clara B. Floyd, president, Maryland State Education Association.
Also on the committee was Marietta English, president, Baltimore Teachers’ Union; Loretta Johnson, executive vice president, American Federation of Teachers; Judith Walker, president, Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals; Christine Handy-Collins, president, Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals; Tina M. Bjarekull, president, Maryland Independent College and University Association; and H. Clay Whitlow, executive director, Maryland Association of Community Colleges.
Maryland’s public schools, recently ranked for the second straight year as the nation’s best by Education Week, have benefited from earlier reform efforts. The Sondheim Commission report in 1989 launched the State’s move into school accountability before the rest of the nation. A new State Curriculum, new collaboration and funding brought about by the Bridge to Excellence Act, and new student-level accountability programs followed about a decade later.
Maryland’s Race to the Top Application is available here.
The Governor’s Executive Order creating the Maryland Council for Educator Effectiveness can be found by clicking here.