The Condition of Education 2014

July 17, 2014

The Condition of Education features dozens of educational and economic indicators that provide information about population characteristics, student enrollment, K-12 education and postsecondary education. As described by the National Center for Education Statistics,

Parents, students, educators and policymakers can use this information as a tool to see how our nation is doing, where we’ve improved, and what still needs to be done.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) presents all of this information in its annual report to Congress. The indicators are regularly updated throughout the year and are always available online and on your mobile device. Visit for more information.

Study Links Housing Costs and Student Performance

July 17, 2014

As reported by Governing, a study conducted at Johns Hopkins University found in families that spent more than half their household income on housing, kids’ reading and math abilities declined.  As described,

In families that spent more than half their household income on housing, kids’ reading and math abilities suffered, according to the study. At the same time, children in families that spent less than 20 percent of their income on housing also suffered cognitively. “It’s worse when you pay too little and worse when you pay too much,” says study author Sandra J. Newman, a Johns Hopkins professor of policy studies and director of the university’s Center on Housing, Neighborhoods and Communities.

For more information, see the full story from Governing.

Maryland Student Test Scores Drop During Transition Year

July 17, 2014

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, student test scores had the largest one-year drop since the Maryland School Assessments began a decade ago.  The drop in scores was predicted by officials as a result of the change in curriculum to align with the Common Core.

The state administered the MSAs for the last time this year — at a cost of about $9 million — despite drastic changes in curriculum as schools adopted what’s known as the Common Core standards. While federal officials have agreed not to hold Maryland schools accountable for the scores, federal law required testing to continue. 

For more information, see the full story from the Sun.

The Common Core will be the subject of the education session at MACo’s summer conference this year.

Learn more about MACo’s 2014 Summer Conference:

Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White with questions about Summer Conference.

The Role of Principals in Teacher Evaluations

July 7, 2014

Courtesy of the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Challenges for School Leadership.

Several pieces of legislation this past session defined how new teacher evaluation systems, based on student performance tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards are implemented in Maryland. Ultimately, the General Assembly passed a bill to delay the integration of new state test scores into teacher evaluations until the 2016-2017 school year.

As reported by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a recent survey may indicate that new teacher evaluation systems place extra burdens on school principals. As described,

We reviewed studies from a number of states that collected data on the pilot implementation of new teacher-evaluation systems to see how principals responded to their increased responsibilities. Specifically, we reviewed implementation studies from Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Chicago, as well as a report that surveyed districts in Maryland, New York, and North Carolina. These districts received federal grants through the Race to the Top initiative. Our review confirmed that principals are struggling with their new responsibilities.

For more information, see the full story from CAP. For more information on teacher evaluations in Maryland, see our previous posts, Principals, School Boards, Educators, and State to Partner on Teacher Evaluations, Senate Votes to Delay New Teacher Evaluations, Legislators Consider When to Use Student Assessments in Teacher Evaluations, and Superintendent Lowery Supports Delay in Teacher Evaluation Changes, Bill Delaying Use of Test Scores in Teacher Evaluations Passes.

Delegate John Bohanan, Chair of the Maryland House Appropriations Education & Economic Development Subcommittee, will lead a panel discussion of the  Common Core State Standards at this summer’s MACo Conference in Ocean City.  Learn more about MACo’s 2014 Summer Conference:

Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White with questions about Summer Conference.

Developer Contributes $1.6M to Frederick School Expansion

July 2, 2014

As reported in The Frederick News-Post,

Matan Cos. has paid $1.6 million to Frederick County to help pay for the expansion of Urbana Middle School.

The payment, delivered Monday to county treasurer Diane Fox, according to a news release, was required in an adequate public facilities agreement for the Urban Green project, a Matan development in Urbana.

For more information, see the full story from The Frederick News-Post.

School construction funding is a major issue in Maryland, where the average age of school facilities is increasing, construction costs are high, and some counties are seeing continuous growth of their K-12 student population.  Counties and the State of Maryland share in the costs of public school construction and renovation.

For more information, see our previous posts, County Officials Participate in School Construction Funding Study, Senate Committee Considers Public School Construction Capital Budget, Anne Arundel to Consider Creation of Special Fund for School Construction, and Debt Affordability Committee Considers School Construction.

Education Reform Hub Monthly Newsletter from the US Department of Education

July 1, 2014

Education Reform Hub Monthly! is a monthly email update from the U.S. Department of Education will alert readers to new resources that inform policy and practice across several areas of education reform. This month’s email feature a report on the Expanding Great Options initiative in Baltimore along with other resources:

Parent and Community Engagement is Key Driver of School Transformation in Baltimore

Visit the PROGRESS blog for a report on the Expanding Great Options initiative, started in 2008 by Baltimore City Public Schools to improve school options for the city’s students. Commodore John Rogers Elementary/Middle School is one of the initiative’s success stories, engaging parents through focus groups, social events, and conferences where students present their academic progress. The school has doubled enrollment, reduced chronic absences, and raised the percentage of students proficient in math and reading by 20 percent since 2010.

To join the Education Reform Hub Monthly email mailing list, click here or email




St. Mary’s County Superintendent to Lead West Virginia Schools

July 1, 2014

As reported by Southern Maryland Newspapers Online, Michael Martirano, superintendent of the St. Mary’s County public schools, is expected to become the state superintendent of West Virginia’s schools later this year. As described,

Martirano, 56, who when first hired was the youngest superintendent in the state, is now the longest currently serving superintendent of the 24 school systems in Maryland. . . As superintendent of St. Mary’s public school system, Martirano oversees about 3,000 employees — including teachers, administrators, substitutes and bus drivers under contract who, in turn, educate and transport more than 17,000 students.

He was selected the 2009 Superintendent of the Year in Maryland and a 2010 Innovator of the Year by the Maryland Daily Record. He currently serves as president of the Public School Superintendent Association of Maryland.

For more information, see the full story from Southern Maryland News and this press release from the West Virginia Department of Education.

Update: As reported on WTOP, West Virginia’s Board of Education has approved Mr. Martirano’s hire as the next State Superintendent.

County Officials Participate in School Construction Funding Study

July 1, 2014

As reported previously on Conduit Street, Governor Martin O’Malley issued an executive order in May directing the Interagency Committee on School Construction to work with the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of Legislative Services and conduct a study on school construction in Maryland.

Last week, county government and school board officials met with the Interagency Committee (IAC) and representatives of the Department of Budget and Management and Legislative Services in a kick-off meeting for the study, which is due in September 2015. More than fifteen county government budget and finance directors and elected officials attended the meeting.

The meeting was held at the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. Dr. David Lever, Executive Director of the IAC, and Rachel Hise of the Department of Legislative Services gave opening remarks.  Ms.Hise said,

The legislature is interested in your input and ideas on how to leverage the large amount of money we are investing to meet the local needs of school construction as quickly as we can.

Dr. Lever then opened the floor up for discussion. The many topics raised during discussion included:

  1. Employing a block grant approach that allows more flexibility in use of school construction funding
  2. Developing a state-level bonding authority for school construction, similar to the County Transportation Bond program that enables various counties to leverage their share of their Highway User Revenues through the Maryland Department of Transportation
  3. Using impact fees and building excise taxes to fund school construction
  4. Using energy performance contracts to offset school construction costs and social impact bonds to fund school construction
  5. Increasing the state property tax to fund school construction and extending the terms of state bonds for school construction
  6. Establishing taxes for debt service and matching funds for school construction projects through referendum vote of county residents, as in Delaware.
  7. Eliminating barriers to school construction such as prevailing wage laws, contracting rules, and stormwater and LEED regulations, and reducing financial burdens on local governments, such as teacher pension costs
  8. Using a standardized designs for schools to reduce design costs
  9. Converting school schedules to occur throughout the year and rotating the use of schools year-round, as in North Carolina
  10. Working with community colleges to share space for K-12 education

For more information, or to provide feedback for this study, please contact Robin J. Clark, Policy Analyst, Maryland Association of Counties, 410.269.0043.

Principals, School Boards, Educators, and State to Partner on Teacher Evaluations

July 1, 2014

Image courtesy of the Maryland State Department of Education.

As reported in the Cumberland Times-News, Maryland education officials and a diverse group of organizations including the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, the Maryland State Board of Education, and the Maryland State Education Association announced a partnership Friday to develop an important part of teacher evaluations. As described,

The agreement, which focuses on making teachers and principals more effective, comes as states struggle to develop new teacher evaluation systems and work to implement student achievement into the reviews. . . the groups signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on forming measurable goals that educators and their supervisors develop and agree on at the start of each school year. The goals, which are known as student learning objectives, are aimed at a specific group of students over a set period of time. They are a key factor in Maryland’s new teacher-principal evaluation system.

For more information, see the full study from the Times-News and the Maryland State Department of Education’s Press Release. The MOU can be found on the Maryland Association of Boards of Education website.

Common Core Is a Common Topic in Legislatures Across the Country

June 26, 2014

As reported by Stateline, a publication of the Pew Charitable Trusts, in the past year, criticism over the Common Core has ramped up in state legislatures across the country.

As of May 15, lawmakers introduced over 340 bills in 46 states—every state that had had a regular legislative session this year— that addressed college- and career-readiness education standards, including the Common Core.

. . . About a half dozen governors have weighed in since last year with executive orders on the issue, generally reasserting the rights of states to determine their own education standards.

. . . State lawmakers also spent a lot of time discussing related legislation sparked by the standards. Bills inspired by the Common Core touched on student data privacy, how to assess student learning, professional development for teachers, and how, in the future, states should decide on education standards.

The Common Core “really dominated the conversation, mood and the ability of the legislatures to discuss other issues,” said Michelle Exstrom, who focuses on education policy for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In Maryland, the General Assembly debated several bills relating to Common Core, and the use of student assessments associated with Common Core in evaluating teach performance. For more information, see our previous posts, Senate Votes to Delay New Teacher Evaluations, Legislators Consider When to Use Student Assessments in Teacher Evaluations.

For more information on the response to Common Core in legislatures across the country, see the full story from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Common Core will be the topic of the education session at MACo’s Summer Conference.  For more information, and to register, click here.


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