As previously reported in an August 24 Conduit Street post, Maryland has been awarded $250 million in federal Race to the Top funding. States who applied for the competitive grants had to make proposals that advanced reforms in four key areas: (1) adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy; (2) building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction; (3) recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and (4) turning around our lowest-achieving schools. To make itself more attractive during the application process, Maryland adopted legislation during the 2010 Session, HB 1263, that altered the tenure and performance evaluation process for teachers. In June, the State Board of Education also adopted the Common Core State Standards in English-language arts and mathematics for grades K-12.
According the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), Maryland’s vision for reform is to:
- 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.
- 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.
Race to the Top funding is a one-time award and there is concern that if the money were used in local school systems to establish programs with an ongoing cost, this would transform into an unfunded mandate on the counties. To date, MSDE has focused on systemic teacher evaluation and curriculum changes and the implementation of a longitudinal data system for tracking student performance. These changes have largely one-time upfront costs, but MACo will continue to monitor the situation.
An August 25 Maryland Reporter article describes a spirited debate that took place between school superintendents and teacher union representatives over Race to the Top teacher evaluations at the MACo summer conference.
Maryland’s Race to the Top Application [Warning – Large Download]