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October 2008
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

A few words from State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

High quality early childhood development programs are an investment in the future of Maryland. Our state has been on the cutting edge of strengthening these important programs, having brought together all early learning components under the MSDE umbrella in 2005, when the Child Care Administration housed at the Department of Human Resource was transferred to MSDE.

One of the best ways to improve our early learning system is by increasing the number of accredited programs. Garrett County over the past four years has become the first county in Maryland to obtain State accreditation of its major early care and education programs..

Garrett County programs completing accreditation include the pre-k and kindergarten programs at all 10 elementary schools, and all 11 Head Start and Early Head Start Programs operated by the Garrett County Community Action Program. In addition, one child care center and four family child care providers have gone through the accreditation process.

We congratulate the early childhood development programs in Garrett County for taking this step. They represent just a small fraction of the number of programs in our State going through this same process. Since 2001, the number of accredited programs in Maryland has increased six-fold to 764.

Duane Yoder, president of the Garrett County Community Action Program, and Garrett County Superintendent Wendell Teets met with the State Board last month.

Duane Yoder, president of the Garrett County Community Action Program, and Garrett County Superintendent Wendell Teets met with the State Board last month.

 


Calendar

October 17 — Maryland State Conference on Gifted and Talented Education

October 27 — Student Summit on School Violence Solutions,

October 28-29 — State Board Meeting


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HSA RESULTS TO BE REVIEWED DURING OCTOBER STATE
BOARD MEETING

Maryland’s oft-debated plan to increase high school achievement and strengthen the diploma will get one more review by the State Board of Education on Oct. 28.

MSDE Assistant Superintendent Leslie Wilson (Center) discusses the preliminary HSA results, along with former Queen Anne’s County Superintendent Bernard Sadusky, now working on the HSA program for MSDE; and MSDE Assistant Superintendent Carol Ann Health-Baglin

MSDE Assistant Superintendent Leslie Wilson (Center) discusses the preliminary HSA results, along with former Queen Anne’s County Superintendent Bernard Sadusky, now working on the HSA program for MSDE; and MSDE Assistant Superintendent Carol Ann Heath-Baglin.

The Maryland State Board of Education will receive the results of the 2008 administration of the High School Assessment (HSA) program.  The Board voted in 2004 to require the HSAs for the class of 2009, this year’s sophomores.

Early results look promising, according to Dr. Leslie Wilson, Assistant State Superintendent for Accountability and Assessment.  She told Board members last month that approximately 88 percent of this year’s seniors who had taken all four assessments had met the requirement.

Dr. Wilson’s estimates did not include the summer administration of the test, nor the first administration of the Bridge Plan, which was piloted over the summer in several Maryland systems.  More than 250 students took advantage of the project-based assessment during the summer months, and MSDE staff involved with the program said the program has been launched with few difficulties.

Multiple assessment options and a variety of interventions are available to students, Dr. Wilson explained, making it likely that few if any students will fail to graduate in 2009 exclusively because of the HSA.

Dr. Bernard Sadusky and R. Scott Pfeifer, long-time Maryland educators who joined MSDE over the summer to work on the HSA program, agreed that students have taken seriously both the tests and the Bridge Plan, resulting in a high pass rate.  Pfeifer said that of the students who worked on the Bridge projects this summer, 77 percent achieve passing scores on their first attempt.  Those who did not, could strengthen their projects and resubmit them.

“The students we talked to were self-motivated,” said Sadusky, former Superintendent of the Queen Anne’s County Schools.  “Our messages to systems: continue to test your students.”

It has been a long road for the assessment program.  Maryland began considering a high school testing program in 1992.  The HSAs were designed in 1997 and field tested in 2000. 

Some State Board members last month continued to express concern over difficulties that some students in particular subgroups were having with the HSAs, such as those receiving English Language and Special Education services.

Dr. Wilson told board members that students in the class of 2009 will graduate on time, in contrast to earlier projections from some HSA opponents.

Though the detailed look at the data won’t take place until later this month, early indications point toward favorable results from last spring’s administration.  The October results will include the impact of alternatives to passing all four HSAs, including the combined score option, modified assessments, and the Bridge Plan.

Several members of the public spoke out in favor of the requirement.  Jim Pitts, corporate vice president of Northrop Grumman and president of Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, said the HSAs were an important step to strengthen standards.  Barbara Dezmon, assistant to the Superintendent of Baltimore County Schools, representing the Baltimore County NAACP, said the HSA program “is about accountability, educationally and morally.”


NEW LIBRARY PROJECTS RECOMMENDED FOR FUNDING

The Maryland State Board of Education last month recommended for funding 14 county library projects in fiscal 2010.  The new projects, totaling $5 million will be forwarded to the State Capital Budget.

The County Library Capital Project Grant Program received 15 grant requests for fiscal 2010 from 12 public library systems totaling $13,925,000.  One grant request was not fundable (the procurement of signage for library branches).  The remaining grant requests were recommended for funding at various levels.

Projects would include redesigning the entrance of the Randallstown library in Baltimore County; renovation of the Canton Library, a branch of Baltimore City’s Enoch Pratt Library; and renovation of the Greenbelt Branch Library in Prince George’s County.

 

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