MSDE Education Bulletin, September 4, 2015

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     September 4, 2015                | MSDE Home | Newsroom | | School Improvement |


Twenty-three of Maryland’s 24 public school systems are back in session for the 2015-16 academic year -- with Worcester County set to re-open after the Labor Day holiday.

By the time all schools open their doors next week, more than 865,000 K-12 students will fill classrooms and another 250,000 children will be involved in some form of pre-kindergarten, Head Start, or licensed childcare program. 

Leon Langley, MSDE’s Director of Pupil Transportation, discussed bus safety with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” as students headed back to school.
Leon Langley, MSDE’s Director of Pupil Transportation, discussed bus safety with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” as students headed back to school.

"Few moments are more exciting than the first day of school—for students, as well as teachers and parents.  We look forward to a safe and productive new school year," said Governor Larry Hogan.  "Strong schools and classrooms lead to a stronger Maryland."

Schools this fall begin the third full year of implementation of the Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards and the second administration of the new PARCC state assessments—online tests for grades 3-8 and high school, aligned to the State standards. 

Enrollment in Maryland public schools appears primed to break the record of 869,113 students, set in 2004.  After hitting that mark, public school enrollment went on a five-year decline before reaching 843,861 by 2009.  Since then it has rebounded, reaching 866,169 students last school year.

 Maryland’s student population also has experienced major demographic changes over the past 20 years.  Maryland has educated a majority-minority student population for nearly a decade.  White students represent nearly 40 percent of the student population, followed by African-American students, who make up 35 percent of the student population.  Both the White and African-American student populations have been in decline as a percentage of the student body in recent years. 

Hispanic students represent 14 percent of the student body, while Asian students account for approximately six percent.  Percentages of Hispanic and Asian students have been steadily rising.  Also increasing is the percentage of students identifying themselves as two or more races, which is at four percent.

Also on the rise in the State’s schools is the percentage of students coming from circumstances of poverty.  Last year, for example, 50.4 percent of Maryland elementary students were eligible for free- or reduced-price meals, the federal proxy for poverty.  Ten years earlier that tally stood at 37.1 percent – a dramatic increase over the decade.

MSDE’s round-up of school openings and closings can be found here.


The Maryland State Board of Education last week accepted with regret the resignation of Lillian M. Lowery, Ed.D, State Superintendent of Schools, who will become President and Chief Executive Officer of FutureReady Columbus, an education non-profit corporation with an initial focus on early childhood education, public policy, and community engagement.

The State Board President, Guffrie Smith, expressed the sentiment of the Board.

“We are losing an extraordinary leader, a talented State Superintendent of Schools,” President Smith said.  “Dr. Lowery led Maryland through a time of tremendous transition and progress. She positioned our State as a national leader in preparing students to be college and career ready.”

During her tenure, more Maryland students graduated high school than ever before. At the same time, dropout rates fell to a new low. She focused on the importance of educating students for careers as well as college, initiating a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) plan and a statewide Computer Science Initiative to provide students with more opportunities to acquire in-demand skills in career pathways that address the needs of local employers and the global economy. 

She recently led the development of a youth apprenticeship design team of state partner agencies, private industry partners, nonprofits and philanthropic organizations to create genuine career-readiness opportunities for youth. Among her many awards, the National Association of State Boards of Education this year named Dr. Lowery the “Policy Leader of the Year” in recognition of her many contributions to education.

The State Board has appointed Jack R. Smith, Ph.D., as Interim State Superintendent to serve the remainder of the term, until June 30, 2016. Dr. Smith is currently the Deputy State Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, and Chief Academic Officer at the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).  He has provided leadership since August 2013 for the work of five MSDE divisions: Early Childhood Development; Special Education and Early Intervention Services; Curriculum, Assessment and Accountability; Career and College Readiness, including Juvenile Services Education Schools; and Library Development and Services.

He was the Superintendent of Schools in Calvert County for seven years and the President of the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland in 2011-2012. He started his career as a teacher in Richland, Washington and also served as a school principal in Japan and Thailand.

Dr. Smith received his doctorate in Instructional Leadership for Changing Populations from Notre Dame of Maryland University. He also received a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University.

The State Board expects that the transition will be a smooth and seamless one, and expressed confidence that Dr. Smith will carry on the legacy of excellence that has been Dr. Lowery’s hallmark, and the hallmark of MSDE and the Maryland public school system.

Dr. Lowery will be joining FutureReady Columbus on September 14, 2015.

A few words from State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery

Lillian M Lowery

State Superintendent of Schools 
Lillian M. Lowery

As many of you know-- and as the accompanying piece notes -- I have resigned as Maryland’s State Superintendent of Schools.  I will be leaving later this month for Ohio, where I’ll be leading FutureReady Columbus, a public-private partnership designed to strengthen schools in that city.

It has truly been an honor to work with Maryland educators and students for the past three years.  I had heard many wonderful things about Maryland education before coming to this state, and had admired the system from afar.  That information proved accurate: this state has some of the best schools, most creative teachers, most committed leaders, and most active parents I have witnessed in my nearly 40-year career.  Maryland schools are great because of that collaborative effort.

It has been a pleasure to work with the outstanding Maryland State Board of Education, State Leaders in the Executive and Legislative branches of Government, Maryland's Federal Delegation, Maryland PTA, educator groups, and the community at large.

Dr. Jack Smith, a longtime Maryland educator and current Chief Academic Office, has been appointed by the State Board to lead MSDE while a national search takes place.  There is no better choice.

Maryland embraced me when I moved here in 2012, and that support never wavered.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve our State’s children.

* * *

One of the many things I’ll miss about Maryland is the annual Teacher of the Year gala.  Once again, we have seven outstanding finalists for the State award.

They are: Dr. Stephanie Marchbank, Allegany County; Jennie Merrill, Anne Arundel County; Ryan Kaiser, Baltimore City; Amanda Portner, Frederick County; Stephanie Geddie, Howard County; Barbara Southerland, Queen Anne’s County; and Sally Irwin, Washington County.

More information about these outstanding educators can be found here.  The 2015-2016 Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced during a gala reception and dinner at Martin’s West in Baltimore on October 9. The winner will receive cash awards, technology equipment, national travel opportunities, and a new car valued at more than $25,000, donated by the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association. 

Video Highlights

Gifted & Talented Summer Camp - Biotechnology & Forensics

Gifted & Talented Summer Camp - Biotechnology & Forensics

The Baltimore City Community College welcomes 14 students for a weeklong Maryland Summer Center Camp in Biotechnology and the Forensic Sciences. The camp was held at the University of Maryland Biopark in West Baltimore.

Board News - July 28, 2015

Board News - July 28, 2015

Maryland assesses, and makes changes to PARCC. Chief among them: a shorter test. More than 50% of licensed child care providers now have registered with Maryland Excels. And the Board celebrates new members -- all in Board News July.


September is Attendance Awareness Month

September 14-18 - Homegrown School Lunch Week

September 22 - Maryland State Board of Education meeting, Baltimore

October 9 - Teacher of the Year Gala, Baltimore

In the News

Keeping Students Safe on Buses
ABC's Good Morning America

Editorial - Caution: Children on Board
Baltimore Sun

Maryland Teachers Get Schooled in the Chesapeake Bay
Washington Post

ACT Testing Grows; Scores Up in Maryland
Washington Post