State Releases Phase One of Blueprint Implementation Plan

The Maryland State Department of Education has published Phase One of its recommended strategic plan for how local school districts should implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) published the first phase of its recommendations for implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. MSDE’s plan is not to be confused with the recent Draft Comprehensive Implementation Plan published by the Blueprint Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB).

The introduction of the draft Phase One plan describes the process and goal of the Plan:

The Maryland State Board of Education and Maryland State Department of Education are developing a multiyear Strategic Plan that will be released in three phases leading up to June 2023. The Strategic Plan will anchor the vision, mission, values, priorities, enablers, goals, and flagship programs, initiatives, and strategies to realize the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future promise of an excellent and equitable education for every student.

The draft plan — which largely focuses on Phase One of implementation — was published on October 25, just a week after the AIB recommended extending the timeframe for the four phases of local implementation.

That recommendation suggested that for Phase One:

  • In March 2023, schools would submit a variety of plans, including:
    • Plans for college and career readiness paths for students in grades 11 and 12 to earn college credits or career and technical education, that “require all certified school personnel who have regular and direct contact with students to complete annual training on student behavioral health”; and
    • Plans for encouraging and supporting teachers, especially those from “historically underrepresented populations,” to obtain and maintain national board certification.

Notably, the draft comes at the same time as National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores show that Maryland is among those states with the steepest declines in reading and math, post-pandemic.

Phase One priorities and suggestions

Phase One of the Strategic Plan outlines the new mission, vision, values, priorities, and enablers that will guide MSDE’s organizational direction, on behalf of the State of Maryland, as it leads the transformation necessary to achieve excellent and equitable outcomes for all students, especially those who have been historically underserved. The publication reads:

Extending from November 2021 to October 2022, this phase has focused on gaining initial input from a wide range of stakeholders representing the diversity of the state. Through multiple methods, from a statewide survey to round tables and listening sessions, to the State Superintendent shadowing students in schools throughout the state, we learned what mattered most to our communities to transform public education in Maryland. The feedback we received helped shape the Strategic Plan’s foundational elements, specifically the vision, mission, values,
priorities, and enablers.

With that charge, Phase One identified four priorities of Blueprint implementation.

Priority 1: Ready for Kindergarten: All Maryland students are prepared socially, emotionally, and academically for success in kindergarten.

  • Recognizing that the early years are the most critical period for brain development and set the foundation for lifelong learning and achievement, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future emphasizes equitable early education opportunities that prepare all children for school and success through a mixed-delivery system comprised of public/private Pre-K partnerships that will expand family options.
  • Readiness is not only a matter of a child’s level of social and academic preparedness. Maryland teachers and schools must be ready to meet children’s needs wherever they come in.
  • Providing all Maryland children opportunities to develop social and cognitive skills in high-quality educational settings before kindergarten is critically important and makes a difference in academic success.

Priority 2: Ready to Read: All Maryland students are proficient in reading by the end of third grade, and those who are not have the necessary supports to become proficient.

  • Thousands of Maryland children reach fourth grade without learning to read proficiently. The shortfall is especially pronounced among low-income children. Failure to read proficiently is linked to higher rates of school dropout, which limits individual earning potential as well as Maryland’s competitiveness and productivity.
  • Reading proficiently by the end third grade is a crucial marker for every Maryland child’s educational development.
  • Fortunately, much is already known about the science of how children learn to read and how to teach and develop reading skills.
  • The problem is that policies are too fragmented, practices too segmented by children’s
    age and grade, and key preparation and intervention programs too limited to realize positive results at scale.

Priority 3: Ready for High School: All Maryland students enter high school on track to meet the college and career readiness standard by the end of 10th grade, and are engaged socially, emotionally, and academically to succeed in progressively challenging and advanced level coursework aligned to college and career pathways.

  • A Maryland student’s learning experiences in the middle grades is a selection of classes they go through in a day. If they experience inconsistent expectations across those classes, they and the school will struggle to achieve high outcomes.
  • A strong research base for effective instructional practices in the middle grades does exist. Providing research-based instruction that enhances learning in the middle grades is critical for Maryland students’ success in high school and beyond.

Priority 4: Ready for College and Career: All Maryland students graduate from high school
college and career ready, and with an individualized
plan to succeed in college, career, and life.

  • The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future has the central goal of ensuring that all Maryland students are college and career ready before graduation, thus signifying an ability to transition successfully to postsecondary coursework at a two- or four-year institution of higher education and/or to the workforce.
  • Maryland is developing new college and career readiness standards, with the goal of having students assessed and meeting the standards by the end of 10th grade.
  • Students meeting the college and career readiness standards will be prepared to succeed in multiple, rigorous college and career pathways at no cost to students.
  • These pathways will enable students to develop in-depth knowledge of a subject area(s); earn post-secondary credits and/or in demand industry-recognized credentials; participate in registered apprenticeships that meet workforce needs and/or in rigorous college preparation programs.
  • All instruction and assessments in public schools will work toward this goal of preparing students to be ready for college and career.
  • Each student in Maryland public schools, regardless of the student’s race, ethnicity, gender, zip code, socioeconomic status, abilities, or language spoken at home, will be supported to meet the college and career readiness standards before graduation.

Enablers

Phase One also identified “enablers” that can help support all four of the priorities listed above, including counties.

Next steps

February 2023, the MSDE plans toRefine Phase 1 and release goals and metrics:

Between October 2022 and February 2023, the State Board and the Maryland State Department of Education will continue to engage with our communities to refine the Phase 1 elements of the Strategic Plan, and develop the goals and metrics linked to each of the priorities outlined in Phase 1. Engagement will take the form of regional data conversations with stakeholders, ongoing student shadows, and a new series of round tables and listening sessions. The goals and metrics will be released in February 2023.

In June, it will finalize Phases 1 and 2 and identify flagship programs, initiatives, and strategies:

Between February and June 2023, we will engage with stakeholders to identify flagship strategies, initiatives, and programs to achieve the goals and metrics developed in Phase 2. This work will be informed by best-in-class research and involve in-depth conversations with education experts, practitioners, and decision makers from early childhood to K-12 education and from the business community to institutions of higher education. The complete Strategic Plan will be released in June 2023, and will anchor the vision, mission, values, priorities, enablers, goals, and flagship programs, initiatives, and strategies to the Blueprint’s promise of an excellent and equitable education for every child.

Learn more about the Phase One draft of the MSDE Phase One Plan.

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