Governor Martin O'Malley to Introduce Education Reform Legislation
Reforms come as Maryland prepares to apply for federal Race to the Top funding
Maryland tops nation as number one public school system, first in nation for advance placement achievement for second straight year
ANNAPOLIS, MD (February 15, 2010) –On the heels of the College Board’s release of its annual report ranking Maryland #1 in the nation for Advance Placement scores for a second straight year and Education Week Magazine’s second straight #1 ranking for Maryland public schools, Governor Martin O’Malley today will introduce legislation to further reform Maryland schools as State education leaders prepare to apply for federal “Race to the Top” funding.
“In Maryland, we strongly believe that the education of our students must be a priority, and that’s something we’re proud of,” said Governor O’Malley. “It is more important now than ever that we continue to protect our investments in education, so that every student has the opportunities that strong academic preparation can provide. This legislation aims to sustain and build upon the real progress we’ve made for every student and every school in Maryland, making Maryland even more competitive both nationally and throughout the world.”
Governor O’Malley’s Education Reform Act of 2010 accelerates efforts to improve Maryland’s public school system, named the nation’s number one public school system by Education Week Magazine for the second straight year, through series of measures that advance Maryland’s ongoing reform efforts and make the State even more competitive for federal Race to the Top Funds.
The College Board’s report recently revealed that the percentage of Maryland seniors who earned a score of three or higher on one or more AP exams reached 24.8 percent in 2009, the highest percentage in the nation for the second straight year and 1.4 percentage points better than 2008, according to the College Board’s “Annual AP Report to the Nation.” A score of three or better is considered “college mastery level” on the AP exams, and many higher education institutions award college credit for high school students scoring in that range. Maryland also ranked first in the nation in the percentage of graduating seniors who had taken an AP exam. The State became the first in history to have 40 percent of its seniors—23,293 students—take at least one AP test.
The Governor’s Education Reform Act of 2010 includes reforms in the following major categories:
Currently, a teacher is eligible for tenure after a two-year probationary period. If the teacher does not meet the requirements for tenure after two years, he or she is assigned a mentor during a third year of teaching and re-evaluated for tenure after that year.
This bill extends the period before a teacher is eligible for tenure from two years to three years. This is the same length of time required by at least 33 other states.
To promote teacher effectiveness, the bill also provides for additional mentoring and professional development for non-tenured teachers who need additional support.
Student Growth in Evaluations
As set forth in the federal Race to the Top guidelines, the Education Reform Act of 2010 requires that student growth data be a significant factor in the evaluations of teachers and principals. However, because of the complex factors that affect student performance, the bill also requires that other factors be considered as well.
The State Board of Education will establish a framework to help guide the implementation of these requirements at the local level. Schools systems that participate in the State’s Race to the Top application may be subject to additional requirements regarding student growth data.
State law already authorizes differentiated pay programs to attract highly effective teachers and principals to low-performing schools or hard to staff subjects. Under the Education Reform Act of 2010, the State would provide additional stipends to teachers and principals in the lowest achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. Implementation of this stipend program is contingent upon Maryland’s receipt of Race to the Top funds.
Each school system that participates in the State’s Race to the Top application will be required to develop a plan that includes strategies to promote the equitable distribution of teachers and or principals across their districts, including their high-poverty and/or high-minority schools as well as hard to staff subjects and specialty areas.
“Maryland has long been a leader in education reform, and this legislation lays the groundwork for continued progress,” said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. “This proposal would provide for more support for new teachers, and allow for improved assessment of our educational process. The overall goal in this legislative package is to improve student learning, which is always the right thing to do.”
The Governor convened a Race to the Top Executive Steering Committee to guide the development of Maryland’s Race to the Top proposal. The Steering Committee is dedicated to pursuing a reform agenda that will secure the continued long-term success and achievement of Maryland’s Public Schools in a manner that embraces input from all of the key stakeholders. The Steering Committee includes representatives from business, public and private higher education institutions, parents, teachers, administrators, local superintendents, local boards of education, the State Board of Education, the State Department of Education, and the Governor’s Office.
The introduction of the Education Reform Act of 2010 is just the latest action in a comprehensive effort to promote education reform. Last month, Governor O’Malley introduced legislation to integrate the State’s multiple educational and workforce data systems in a seamless longitudinal data system. This system would allow decision-makers and researchers to track the progress of students as they move from elementary school through secondary and higher education and into the workforce. Because the system can link the data for students, teachers, principals, and educator preparation programs, it becomes a critical tool for analyzing progress, trends, and best practices, and for identifying the key leverage points for education reform.
While the federal government has been promoting statewide data systems through Race to the Top during the last year, Maryland has been building its longitudinal system for more than four years. The Governor’s legislation is designed to accelerate the development of the system by creating mechanisms for the inclusion of higher education workforce data.
Governor O’Malley also introduced legislation to make funding for the Higher Education Investment Fund from corporate tax revenues permanent and to establish a Tuition Stabilization Account in the Fund in order to establish a more predictable, affordable tuition policy and avoid large tuition increases in the future. The Higher Education Investment Fund was created under the O’Malley-Brown Administration to help stabilize tuition and make college more affordable for Maryland’s working families.