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May 17, 2010
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

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


Maryland remains the only state in the nation to require Service-Learning for graduation from high school, and each year that requirement introduces our children to some imaginative learning opportunities. It was gratifying last week to be among some of state’s most energetic learners for the Annual “Service Stars” awards presentation in Baltimore. More than 40 students were cited for their good work in their communities.

Service-learning wouldn’t take place without strong leadership from teachers. Maryland also honored nine Service-Learning Fellows who have coordinated some amazing service initiatives at their schools.

Service-learning is a vital part of education because it helps translate textbook lessons into life lessons. Our State is widely recognized for its outstanding educational programs, and service-learning is one of our exemplary practices.

For more information about service-learning, click here.

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Another wonderful resource in our area is Gallaudet University. Located in Washington, DC, Gallaudet is a special place for deaf and hard-of-hearing students from across the nation and the world, offering top programs in a variety of fields.

It was my honor to serve as Gallaudet’s 141st Commencement speaker last week, honoring the many graduates of the university. In many ways, Gallaudet helped me get my start. I received a master’s degree in deaf education from the university, and went on to teach deaf students in Baltimore City.

Gallaudet, and all of our area universities, have been great partners for Maryland public schools. We are very fortunate to live in a state with so many outstanding colleges and universities in such close proximity.

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It has been a very busy month. I also was fortunate to be in Philadelphia last week to give the keynote address to the 2010 Delaware Valley Minority Student Achievement Consortium and College Board School District Leadership Symposium. It was great to see so many educators from New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland taking an in-depth look at improving student success for all.

I discussed the critical need to prepare our nation’s students for the 21st century, which is in large part what our State’s next wave of reform is all about.

We need to create or redesign our schools so that they will improve learning, achievement, and competencies. If we expect our graduates to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and effective communicators, regardless if they are heading to college or the workplace, we have an obligation to provide environments that cultivate that kind of learning.


Calendar

May 25-26 – State Board Meeting, Baltimore

June 1 – Race to the Top Application Deadline

June 18 – Northrop Grumman Scholars Awards Program



Video   VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards!, May 6, 2010

(May 6, 2010)
Anne Arundel County's Jeffrey Macris wins the Comcast 2010 Parent Involvement Matters Award! Here is the full version, showing all two dozen finalists from across Maryland, and the excitement of the evening.



In the News

Trees Symbolic of Beauty Late Education Advocates Saw in School Children
Cumberland Times News

Grasmick Confident of ‘Race to the Top Chances
WCBC Radio

Let’s Celebrate Teachers
Carroll County Times

Teachers Flocking to Maryland Schools
ABC-2, Baltimore

Grasmick Proposes Overhaul of Teacher Evaluations
WBAL-11, Baltimore



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MACRIS NAMED WINNER OF COMCAST PARENT AWARD

Jeffrey Macris of Anne Arundel County has been named statewide winner of the third annual Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards program.  State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick and Comcast Regional Senior Vice President Fred Graffam made the announcement this month at a special ceremony held at Loch Raven High School in Towson, Maryland.

Jeffrey Macris, third from left, celebrates being named the Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award Winner for 2010 with Anne Arundel Superintendent Kevin Maxwell, State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, and Comcast Regional Senior Vice President Fred Graffam.

Jeffrey Macris, third from left, celebrates being named the Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award Winner for 2010 with Anne Arundel Superintendent Kevin Maxwell, State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, and Comcast Regional Senior Vice President Fred Graffam.

Macris led an effort to turn around two Annapolis area middle schools, even though he and his wife do not yet have a middle schooler among their five children.  Under his leadership, the Annapolis Cluster Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) began by identifying three goals for the schools: bringing in world-class academic programs, establishing order and discipline, and providing high-quality teachers.  Macris formed the Ad Hoc Group of Annapolis Parents, lobbied local officials and parents, and helped force changes that would help the schools reach the goals. Annapolis Middle is now an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme school and Bates Middle is an Arts Magnet school offering both performing and visual arts programs. Macris also has been a dedicated Naval Officer for more than two decades and is currently serving as a professor of history at the U.S. Naval Academy. 

Macris was selected from five finalists also announced at the award ceremony.  The finalists were narrowed down from a list of 24 semifinalists announced in March.  In addition to Mr. Macris, the other finalists were: 

  • Donna Hager - The Midtown Academy Public Charter School, Baltimore City
  • Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen - Cromwell Valley Elementary School, Baltimore County
  • Sabine Harvey - Chestertown Middle School, Kent County
  • Earle Barnes - Shady Grove Middle School, Montgomery County

“Jeffrey Macris exemplifies the critical work that parents undertake in Maryland public schools every day,” Dr. Grasmick said.  “Strong parental involvement has transformed classrooms across our state and has led our schools to be ranked number one in the nation for two consecutive years.  We are grateful to have Comcast as our partner in spotlighting the amazing achievements of these remarkable parents.”

“Comcast is dedicated to helping build strong, healthy communities in which our youth are provided opportunities to achieve their full potential,” said Graffam.  “Parents play an instrumental role in preparing our children for future success, and we’re pleased to work with the Maryland State Department of Education again this year to recognize them for their dedication and inspiration to others.”

In addition to the finalist and statewide winner announcements, Julie Chapman of Charles County, was presented with the JoAnne L. Carter Memorial Award in recognition of her parental involvement and work in Charles County schools.  This award was conceived in honor of JoAnne L. Carter, Deputy State Superintendent for the Maryland State Department of Education, who lost her battle with cancer on February 25, 2009. Ms. Carter was dedicated to providing the very best education to all children.

The Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Awards is the nation’s first and only statewide award program of its kind.  A collaboration between Comcast and the Maryland State Department of Education, the program recognizes parents and guardians for their exceptional support of public education. The statewide winner was awarded a cash prize of $1,000 and the four remaining finalists each received $250 to further their efforts to improve their public schools.


RACE TO THE TOP PLAN GAINING ACCEPTANCE BY SYSTEMS

Twenty-two of Maryland’s 24 school systems have signed on to the Maryland State Department of Education’s draft proposal for the federal government’s $4.3 billion education initiative known as Race to the Top (RTTT).

Concern over the State’s plans to strengthen teacher evaluation in Maryland public schools has dissipated as MSDE officials have continued their outreach on the RTTT proposal.  MSDE’s plan calls for student growth to count for 50 percent of teacher and principal evaluation systems, but only 30 percent would be set by the State with the help of the Educator Effectiveness Work Group.  That group—which will include teachers, principals, and other stakeholders—will be selected by MSDE in July.

The remaining 20 percent of the student growth component would be developed by local school systems in collaboration with their bargaining units.  The State plans to identify a default evaluation system that would go into effect if the local system and bargaining units could not agree. 

Seven systems will pilot the new evaluation program before it goes into effect statewide during the 2012-2013 school year.

“Once school systems understand that 70 percent of the teacher evaluation system has considerable flexibility for local school systems, they embrace our plan,” said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick.  “Our goal is to continue the progress Maryland has made to strengthen student performance and reduce gaps in achievement among student subgroups.  The use of student data is critical to our success.”

MSDE last month made the unusual move of releasing its entire draft plan for RTTT to the public for its input.  The State’s proposal seeks to increase student achievement across the board, improve instruction, and turn around chronically underperforming schools.  MSDE’s RTTT draft is being circulated to local school systems, education stakeholders, and teacher’s associations, and may be further revised before it is submitted to the U.S. Education Department on June 1.

Development of the RTTT draft is the result of an unprecedented outreach program by State education officials.  Dr. Grasmick and her staff made presentations to more than 80 outside organizations, crisscrossing the State to receive input and answer questions.  In addition, 35 focus groups for educators have been held.  The result is a document that is receiving pledges of support throughout Maryland.

Maryland’s draft Race to the Top application can by found on the MSDE’s RTTT webpage.


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