Keeping You Current on Education
Reform in Maryland
|February 3, 2000
||Vol. 11, No. 2
to Reconstitute 3 Baltimore City Schools
The Maryland State Board of Education has voted
to reconstitute the three lowest-performing elementary schools in the Baltimore City
School System, each of which was not making substantial improvement toward meeting state
The board approved the action by a 10-2 vote on Feb. 1 in an
abbreviated session of the weather-delayed monthly meeting originally scheduled for
This will be the first time the state has moved to assume
the management of a school since it began identifying reconstitution-eligible schools in
1994. It is believed to be the first takeover of this kind in the nation.
"No child should have to attend a failing school by
accident of where he or she lives."
- Nancy S. Grasmick
State Superintendent of Schools
Gilmor, Montebello and Furman L. Templeton
elementary schools were named for state intervention based on results of the Maryland
School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) tests given in grades three and five and
each school's attendance rate. Generally no more than 10 percent of the students in the
named schools met the state's satisfactory standards in all MSPAP areas in any year MSPAP
testing began in 1993. Most often, the percent of students at satisfactory ranged from 3.5
to 6.6 percent.
"No child should have to attend a failing school by accident
of where he or she lives," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick.
"School performance at all three schools has remained static or declined since the
schools were classified as eligible for reconstitution. We believe state intervention is
now necessary if we are to raise the performance of these schools to the standards we
expect them to achieve."
In September, the State Board asked for proposals from
contractors, or third-party administrators, interested in assuming the overall management
of a school. The board has asked the top qualified vendors-Edison Schools, Inc.; the
Kennedy Krieger Institute/Erickson Foundation; and Mosaica Education, Inc.-to submit
management proposals for any or all of the three schools to be reconstituted.
Decisions on three-year renewable management contracts will be
made by the end of March. Contractors will assume control of the schools July 1 in
preparation for the school year that begins in September. Current school staff will
continue to operate the schools through the end of the current school year.
The board did not add any schools to the reconstitution-eligible
list this year so it could focus on ensuring a successful first year in the newly
reconstituted schools. In addition to the three named for reconstitution, 93 other schools
remain on the list.
Questions about school reconstitution? Call the State
Department of Education at 410-767-0600.
named Board President After Sondheim Steps Down
Edward Andrews was elected president of the
Maryland State Board of Education at its Feb. 1 meeting, replacing Walter Sondheim, Jr.
who decided to step down from the demanding position but will remain on the board.
Sondheim, who turned 91 in July, is serving his second four-year
term on the board. The board decided to wait until its regular February meeting to decide
who will replace Andrews as vice-president.
Sondheim was chairman of the Governor's Commission on School
Performance in 1987. That commission, which informally became known as the "Sondheim
Commission," laid the foundation for Maryland's nationally recognized school reform
effort of the past 10 years.
"Walter, you have brought us wisdom with wit and
humor," said Andrews. "You have brought us intelligence with integrity. And you
have brought us grace and stature tempered with humility and dignity for all. I am so very
pleased that all this will continue as you remain on the board."
Sondheim, whose term expires in 2003, responded in typical
fashion: "You people are very nice and you make resigning worthwhile. . . . You spoil
me. That is a terrible thing to do to somebody my age."
Technology Use Rising in Maryland
Students, Teachers Dramatically Increase Online Presence
Maryland students and teachers have dramatically
increased their use of technology, according to a report issued by the Maryland Business
Roundtable's Committee on Technology in Education.
The report reflects the progress of the Technology in Maryland
Schools (TIMS) program, a key initiative of the Maryland Plan for Technology in Education
orchestrated in 1995. TIMS enables students and teachers to have access to online
resources by providing complete wiring distribution systems through funding by the Public
School Construction Program. Hardware, software and staff training is provided though
budgeted funds from the Maryland State Department of Education. Local school systems
contribute to a portion of funding for the wiring distribution system as well as providing
the Internet connection for each school.
To date, 565 of Maryland's 1,355 public schools have benefited
from the program
Among the 90 earliest schools to get involved in the program and
complete surveys, it was reported 69 percent of teachers gained information on
instructional resources through technology in 1998 compared to 42 percent in 1996.
Forty-nine percent of teachers said they had students retrieving information online in
1998 compared to only 12 percent two years earlier.
Marylanders Strongly Support MSPAP Testing
Citizens overwhelmingly back the State Department
of Education's Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP), according to a
recent statewide survey conducted for the State Department of Education by the Survey
Research Center at the University of Maryland-College Park.
The survey of Marylanders 18 and older showed almost 71 percent
believed MSPAP-tests in six subjects administered to students in grades 3, 5 and 8-was a
good way to evaluate the progress of public schools. A total of 78.5 percent agreed with
the toughening of graduation requirements through the planned High School Assessments.
"The survey results indicate to us that we are right on
track in our accountability program," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S.
Heath Honored by Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Gary Heath, chief of the Maryland State
Department of Education's arts and science branch, has been named Environmental Educator
of the Year by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Heath was honored at a luncheon last month at the Engineers Club
in Baltimore. He was recognized for his efforts in establishing the Maryland Association
of Environmental and Outdoor Educators and organizing the Governor's Green School Award.
Heath helped create Maryland's Chesapeake Choices and Challenges
curriculum. The foundation said: "When similar curricula modules were introduced in
Pennsylvania and Virginia, Mr. Heath championed them to both commonwealths' top educators
. . . By instilling his beliefs and promoting environmental education in public schools,
he has helped Maryland become arguably the country's leader in environmental
Local School Systems Permitted to Seek Weather Waivers
State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick has been
granted authority to shorten the state-mandated 180-day calendar for local school systems
who have missed an extraordinary number of school days as a result of severe weather.
The Maryland State Board of Education, at its Feb. 1 meeting,
gave Dr. Grasmick authority to waive a maximum of four days from the state requirements.
Dr. Grasmick said she will review each system's request for waivers on a case-by-case
basis. The waivers would affect schools that closed Sept. 16 and/or Sept. 17 due to
Hurricane Floyd and Jan. 25 and/or Jan. 26 due to severe winter weather.
"It was important to establish the authority now so we can
work with local school systems to plan their schedules through the rest of the year,"
said Dr. Grasmick. "I know that many Maryland families are anxious to know about
adjustments in their children's school calendar."
The board's action will affect only the four lost days specified.
The board last granted shortened school year waivers after severe
winter conditions in 1996.
School & Community Outreach Office
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Web site: www.msde.state.md.us
Assistant State Superintendent
Neil H. Greenberger