Kirwan Commission Discusses Teachers, Instructional Systems

The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education held its most recent meeting last week in Annapolis. Known as the Kirwan Commission because it is chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, the Commission focused on developing world-class, highly coherent instructional systems and creating clear gateways for students through the system, with no dead ends.

One interesting takeaway came from Jack R. Smith, Superintendent of Montgomery County Schools. Dr. Smith discussed efforts to improve the teaching profession and stressed that the Commission “should not blow up the system,” and that any changes should be gradual and well-thought-out. Dr. Smith suggested implementing “authentic career ladders that involve higher education in ongoing professional development of both teachers and teacher educators.”

The Commission also heard testimony from Marc Tucker, President and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy. Mr. Tucker discussed Maryland’s standards, assessments, and curriculum. According to Mr. Tucker, “Maryland’s standards, assessments, and curriculum supports compare favorably to those of many if not most American states [and] Maryland is far ahead of many other states in providing support to teachers to help them teach to the new standards and in providing support in high school to students who fail to reach high school standards.”

However, Mr. Tucker recommended setting up a system that allows all students to take the
courses they need to meet the college and career standards at the end of 10th grade, not 11th
grade. According to Mr. Tucker, implementing this system would ensure more students would be ready for success in Maryland’s community colleges, increasing enrollment and greatly improving completion rates. Furthermore, because many Maryland students would be ready to take a full two-year degree program in grades 11 and 12 of high school, Maryland families would save a great deal of money.

Click here to view the meeting materials from last week’s meeting.

The 2016 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was created by legislation introduced in the General Assembly. The Commission membership parallels that of the earlier Thornton Commission. MACo is entitled to two representatives on the Commission, under the legislation.

Montgomery County Council Member Craig Rice, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Chair, and Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine, MACo’s Education Subcommittee Vice Chair, represent MACo on the Commission.

The Commission’s next meeting, which will focus on resource equity, will be held on Monday, July 26, 2017; 9:30 am-5:30 pm, at 120 House Office Building (House Appropriations Committee Room), 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis, Maryland.

For more information, contact Kevin Kinnally at MACo.