MSDE Education Bulletin, November 3, 2015

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Maryland Education Bulletin Header

     November 3, 2015                | MSDE Home | Newsroom | | School Improvement |


State Board memberAndrew Smarick asks a question about the new PARCC data.

Data released last week for Maryland’s new high school assessments set a new baseline that will help to determine if students are on track to graduate ready for college or careers. The data were presented to the Maryland State Board of Education.

Nearly 40 percent of high school students taking the PARCC English 10 assessment last spring scored at a Level 4 and 5 combined – the two highest levels on the PARCC five-point score scale. More than 30 percent of high school students attained Level 4 and 5 combined in algebra I.  For high school, achieving Level 4 or 5 indicates readiness for college and is intended to help students avoid the need to take additional coursework before taking credit-bearing courses beyond high school. The scores required to meet these thresholds were determined over the summer by Maryland educators and their peers around the country.

Local system and school results will be released online this week.

“The initial PARCC results represent a new starting line for Maryland students, teachers, and families as we strive to better prepare our students to get on track for success after graduation,” said Interim State Superintendent of Schools Jack R. Smith.  “But it is important to recognize that this data is only a snapshot; it’s one additional measure to use when viewing the progress of our students, along with many other factors.  This is a challenging assessment, and the data reflects that.” 

Also released last week was the statewide data for Maryland’s first-ever algebra II test.  More than 20 percent of students scored at a Level 4 and 5, combined, on that test.

PARCC results cannot be compared with the Maryland School Assessment (MSA), which the State used for a decade, both because this is a new test and a different test. PARCC is the first assessment aligned to Maryland’s College and Career Ready Standards, which set a higher bar for student learning. The tests go beyond the old “fill in the blank” model of standardized tests by emphasizing the need for students to demonstrate critical thinking, problem solving, and clear writing.

These tests also will show growth in student achievement over time.  For example, parents and teachers will better be able to determine if students taking the math and reading assessments in third grade are progressing in their understanding of the subject matter when they reach fourth grade and beyond.

The assessment uses a five-point score scale set by Maryland educators and others:

  • Level 5 - Exceeded Expectations
  • Level 4 - Met Expectations
  • Level 3 - Approached Expectations
  • Level 2 - Partially Met Expectations
  • Level 1 - Did Not Yet Meet Expectations

The MSA results were based on the previous academic standards, which have not been in use since 2013-14, or earlier.  The MSA had just three performance levels and were set at a less rigorous target.  The result: most students were considered proficient in the subject matter when Maryland adopted the plan for higher standards and more advanced assessment in 2010.  This pattern of raising standards and creating new assessments has been in place in Maryland since the 1980s.

“Maryland has a history of strengthening standards on a regular basis,” Dr. Smith said.  “As the rigor has been raised with each target, our students and teachers have worked to make the grade.  The results have served students -- and our State -- very well, as students perform better over time.”

Future PARCC test results will be available sooner as more students are assessed online.  More than 82 percent of students took online assessments during the first administration.  Paper-pencil assessments are available as needed in the first three years.

Complete data will be available on November 5 at


Ryan Kaiser, Maryland’s 2015-16 Teacher of the Year.

Ryan Kaiser, a sixth and eighth grade social studies teacher at The Mount Washington School in Baltimore City, last month was named the 2015-16 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

Interim State Superintendent of Schools Jack R. Smith made the announcement during a 25th Anniversary Teacher of the Year Gala in a ballroom filled with educators and dignitaries.  Among those in attendance were U.S. Representatives Donna Edwards, Steny Hoyer, John Sarbanes, and Chris Van Hollen; Comptroller Peter Franchot; and Keiffer Mitchell, special advisor to Governor Larry Hogan.

Kaiser said that by connecting students to the subject matter, deeper understanding emerges.  “I believe that it is my task as an educator to develop experiences that will allow students to see the world that surrounds them through a critical lens,” he said.  “Even though my title is ‘social studies’ teacher, I believe that my job -- and the job of every teacher -- is to help students make the connections that already exist between our various content areas.”

Governor Larry Hogan and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford congratulated Maryland’s newest Teacher of the Year.

“The success of our schools is built on the work of our teachers, and the efforts of Ryan Kaiser provide a shining example of what teachers can do to strengthen student learning and ensure their future success,” said Governor Hogan.  “I congratulate Ryan, and celebrate his achievements along with those of all our State’s educators.”

Lt. Governor Rutherford said that Ryan’s importance goes beyond his the walls of The Mount Washington School.  “Ryan is involved in education throughout Baltimore City, working on projects with social studies colleagues in other schools, and coordinating a program with the Patterson Park Public Charter School,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford.  “His approach to teaching and learning benefits hundreds of students.”

Dr. Smith said the new Maryland Teacher of the Year has special talents.   “Ryan is a classroom teacher, first and foremost, and his work with his students crackles with energy and creativity,” he said.  “He has always kept his eyes on preparing his students for the rigors of high school and beyond.”

An education graduate from the University of Nebraska, Kaiser also received a master’s in elementary administration from the university.  He has been a teacher for 16 years, the last 10 in Baltimore.  Kaiser serves at the school’s coach for the Baltimore Urban Debate League, is a mentor teacher, and is a member of The Mount Washington School Parent Teacher Organization.

Outside the classroom, Kaiser serves as the communications coordinator for the Maryland Council of Social Studies and writes curriculum and lesson plans for teachers nationwide for the White House Visitor’s Center.

Kaiser comes from a family of teachers; his grandmother taught elementary school and both of his parents were teachers and educational administrators.  He fell in love with history as a child, and said it was “almost a given” that he’d become a teacher and provide his students with the type of experiential learning that makes a lasting connection.

“As a teacher, I am guided by the Chinese proverb, ‘I forget what I hear, I remember what I see, I understand what I do,’” he said.  “The more I learn about teaching, the more I know this proverb to be true.  We have to create these essential learning opportunities for students everywhere.”

Selecting Kaiser for the award was not easy for the judges.  The other outstanding finalists were: Dr. Stephanie Marchbank, Allegany County; Jennie Merrill, Anne Arundel County; Amanda Porter, Frederick County, Stephanie Geddie, Howard County; Barbara Sutherland, Queen Anne’s County; and Sally Irwin, Washington County.

The Maryland Teacher of the Year goes on to compete for the esteemed National Teacher of the Year Award, to be announced next April. Maryland has had a history of national success with its Teacher of the Year Program. Three Maryland teachers have received the National Teacher of the Year award since 2006.

Presenting sponsors of the Maryland Teacher of the Year Program are Comcast, the Maryland Automobile Dealers Association, McDonald’s Family of Maryland, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. Platinum sponsors are BGE, Lockheed Martin, Maryland Public Television, NTA Life and Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. 

A few words from Interim State Superintendent of Schools Jack R. Smith

nterim State Superintendent of Schools Jack R. Smith

Interim State Superintendent of Schools
Jack R. Smith


One of the most effective ways to improve learning is to make certain all Maryland students Maryland have access to great teachers and principals.  That is the goal of our statewide Teacher and Principal Evaluation (TPE) program, which is beginning to produce data that local school systems may be able to put to good use.

In the second full report, based on data from last school year, 97.4 percent of teachers were rated either “highly effective” or “effective” in the State’s three-tiered rating system, a slight increase over 2013-14.  Likewise, 97.8 percent of principals were rated either “effective” or “highly effective.”

While overall ratings for educators remain high, differences in the percentage of effective educators are emerging between schools and school systems. 

The data, unveiled last week before the Maryland State Board of Education, is based on the 2014-15 school year.  It found that 44.55 percent of teachers were rated “highly effective,” the top tier of the three part rating system.  Likewise, 47.1 percent of principals were rated “highly effective,” under the evaluation system.

Maryland school systems have spent the past five years developing TPE programs. Every Maryland school has begun to see the benefits from the professional development and collaboration used to develop Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) to guide instruction.  Systems are currently in the third year of implementing new evaluation systems, and MSDE will continue to monitor progress in that implementation. 

The new data release marks the second annual statewide effort to evaluate teacher and principal effectiveness based in part on student growth.  Each school district could develop its own evaluation system within State parameters, or could use a State-developed system.  In the end, each district constructed an evaluation model based on its own interests, and each local superintendent and head of the local bargaining unit signed off on the design.

All 24 of Maryland’s school systems are now participating in the Statewide Teacher and Principal Evaluation Program. "Read our full report," Analysis of 2014-15 Teacher and Principal Effectiveness Ratings.

* * *

Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan

Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan last month put a welcome spotlight on student art.  The First Lady honored some of our State’s top student artists during a special reception in Annapolis.  The students are among those whose art is currently being displayed in a special exhibition in the House of Delegates Gallery Space.

First Place award winners are:

  • Elementary School - Jasmine Diaz, a second grade student at Vansville Elementary School in Prince George’s County.

  • Middle School - Mackenzie Clark, a sixth grade student from Kent County Middle School in Kent County.

  • High School - Taylor Williams, a senior at Huntington High School in Calvert County.

The student artists are among those from more than 20 school systems whose art is part of the First Lady’s Inaugural Student Art Exhibition. The First Lady, an adjunct professor at Maryland Institute College of Art and an accomplished artist, has been an active supporter of the arts community and advocate for arts programs in schools across Maryland.

The exhibition is supported by the Maryland State Department of Education’s Fine Arts Office and the Maryland State Arts Council.

Video Highlights

The Maryland Business Roundtable: 'Raising the Bar'

The Maryland Business Roundtable: 'Raising the Bar'

MBRT members talk about the importance of Raising the Bar of academic excellence for Maryland students.

Patterson Park Public Charter School

Patterson Park Public Charter School

Patterson Park Public Charter School celebrates it's 10th year of operation. The school was among the first to open under Maryland's charter law.

Jack Smith Interim Superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education

Maryland Environmental Award

Maryland wins an award from the World Future Council for its work in establishing an environmental curriculum.


November 16-20 - American Education Week

December 8 - Maryland State Board of Education Meeting

In the News

Editorial: PARCC Results Yield Sobering Truth
Baltimore Sun

First Lady Honors Top Art Students
Montgomery Sentinel

Committee Selected to Review Testing
Washington Post

Norm Augustine: Schools Must Push STEM Harder
Baltimore Business Journal