students in grades 3-8 and high school will spend less time taking State
assessments next year as a result of changes approved unanimously by the
multi-state consortium governing the tests.
Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) last
week voted to consolidate the PARCC assessment’s two testing windows into one
and cut total test time by about 90 minutes overall beginning in the 2015-16
school year. The changes were made in
response to feedback from parents, students, and educators during the first
year of testing and a careful review of test design.
year’s PARCC tests will take less time away from lessons, and cause less
disruption to school schedules, while still keeping students on track for
college and careers,” said State Superintendent of School Lillian M. Lowery.
“These changes will help us focus on what’s most important—ensuring that
students are learning to think critically and master the skills they will need
to graduate, ready for success, she added.”
revisions to PARCC will:
- Combine the two English language arts and two
math testing windows to one 30-day window near the end of the semester or
the school year.
- Reduce the number of test units that students
will take from 8 or 9, depending upon the grade level, to 7 or 6.
- Cut the testing time for students by about 90
minutes overall depending on content and grade level.
first full year of PARCC implementation in Maryland has gone smoothly for the
most part, with more than 1.3 million tests administered and completed. The new assessments, aligned to Maryland’s
College and Career Ready Standards, replaced the Maryland School Assessment
tests this year.
the PARCC changes can be found here.
new Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) finds that nearly half of
Maryland’s incoming students in the fall of 2014 were fully ready for learning.
The data, released last week in a report presented to the Maryland State Board of
Education, offers a new baseline for assessing kindergarten readiness to help
elevate readiness for all Maryland school children.
report, Readiness Matters!, found that 47 percent of incoming kindergartners
were fully ready to begin learning.
Another 36 percent were “approaching” readiness, while 17 percent were
“emerging.” The results uncovered gaps
in readiness between certain student groups. The report provides insights into
readiness and children’s experience with various forms of pre-K experience.
our youngest learners to be successful means getting them on track—and keeping
them on track—as we gauge their progress in an age-appropriate way,” said State
Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery.
“As we do so, we must continue to address readiness gaps across the
board, so that all students have the chance to succeed in school.”
worked with local educators to develop the KRA, and has since engaged
educators, including kindergarten teachers, to strengthen the assessment
process. For example, next year’s
version of the KRA will be 20 percent shorter, with some of the more
time-intensive items removed. An enhanced reporting feature will be in place in
2015-16 when teachers can get on-time reports of their students’ skill levels.
worked with school systems to improve access to technology and Wi-Fi for
teachers working with the KRA, and MSDE will provide additional professional
development for teachers.
than half of White and Asian-American children are entering kindergarten ready
to learn -- 57 and 53 percent, respectively.
But only 43 percent of African-American students are fully prepared for
kindergarten and just 27 percent of Hispanic students are kindergarten-ready. The data also revealed that students from
low-income households, those for whom English is a second language, and
students with special learning challenges were not as well prepared.
measures the skills and behaviors that children should learn prior to entering
kindergarten. It combines age-appropriate, standardized performance tasks that
measure students’ specific skills, along with focused observations of
children’s work and play, to best understand what each entering kindergartner
knows and is able to do in four key areas: social foundations; physical
well-being and motor development; language and literacy; and mathematics.
assessment replaces the Maryland Model for School Readiness (MMSR) assessment,
in use since 2001. The new assessment is needed to put young students on a path
toward meeting Maryland’s more rigorous Pre-K through 12th grade college and
career ready standards. The KRA sets a new baseline for tracking student
progress in future years, aligned to the higher standards. The results are not
directly comparable to the MMSR, which found in 2013 that 83 percent of
kindergartners entering school in 2013 were “fully ready” to learn.
KRA data can be found here.
State Superintendent of Schools
Lillian M. Lowery
Maryland public schools this month
received another accolade: US News &
World Report found that our State had the highest percentage of top
performing high schools. All credit goes
to the educators at those schools, who work hard every day to prepare students
for college and career.
Nearly 30 percent of Maryland high
schools ranked among the high performers in its latest national study. Maryland had 28.9 percent of its schools in
the top tiers, followed by California (27.2 percent) and Connecticut (25.4
percent). The publication based its
measure on the percentage of students participating in--and achieving passing
scores--on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams. In addition, students must do well on state
The complete report can be found here.
* * *
Maryland public education has had
the great benefit of an outstanding group of citizens on the Maryland State
Board of Education. That continues with
the introduction of two new State Board members this month. Chester E. Finn, Jr., Ed.D. of Montgomery
County and Andy Smarick of Queen Anne’s County were appointed by Governor Larry
Hogan to fill two seats on the 12-member board vacated by the departures of
Charlene M. Dukes, Ed.D. and Donna Hill Staton, Esq., whose terms ended in
Dr. Finn is a Senior Fellow at
Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, where he is Chairman of the K-12
Education Task Force. He also is president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,
where his primary focus is reforming primary and secondary schooling. Mr.
Smarick is a partner at Bellwether Education Partners, a national nonprofit
dedicated to helping education organizations – in the public, private, and
nonprofit sectors – become more effective in their work and achieve dramatic
results for students. He served as a deputy assistant secretary at the U.S.
Department of Education and an education aide at The White House Domestic
Dr. Dukes and Ms. Hill Staton
oversaw major improvements in teaching and learning, student safety and
advances in digital learning. Our students’ lives are better because of their
During the tenures of Dr. Dukes and
Ms. Hill Staton, the State Board established a record of achievements that
positively impacted students in a variety of ways. During their tenure, the
State Board of Education adopted higher standards, oversaw the alignment to
more advanced state assessments, and increased support for teachers and school
leaders. Maryland was recognized for its pioneering work in studying long-term
student suspensions and expulsions, and revising its school disciplinary
regulations to focus on keeping students in schools and connected to learning.
More on the new Board members and
departing Board members can be found here.
Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching
April 10, 2015
Maryland seeks nominees for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Past
honoree Tim Emhoff of Charles County talks with Maryland Superintendent
Dr. Lillian Lowery about what the award has meant to him. Nominations are now closed.
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Financial Literacy Class - Stock Market Game
April 17, 2015
Florence Falatko's class at Cromwell Valley Elementary learns financial
literacy by playing the Stock Market Game. It's just part of the course
designed to teach young students early about the value of a dollar.
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MSDE Video Highlights: Financial Literacy Class - Stock Market Game
June 5 - Maryland Parent Involvement
Matters Awards, Baltimore
June 23 - Maryland State Board of Education meeting, Baltimore
States Vote to Reduce Length of Common Core Test
47 Percent of Incoming Kindergartners Ready to Learn
Netscape Founder, Wife, Donate Computers to Pratt Library