Maryland is moving forward with new education initiatives to further strengthen teaching and learning statewide in the nation's top school system -- implementing higher standards, better assessments and new teacher and principal evaluation systems. To ensure these important new education initiatives are successful, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) presented a plan to the State Board of Education today to request an extension of its implementation timeline from the U.S. Department of Education.
"Over the last seven years, we made the better choice to invest in Maryland's top-ranked schools, and today, we continue our support of educators and children by giving them the time they need to get this transition right," said Governor O'Malley. "This waiver extension would allow Maryland to complete three important transitions -- new standards, assessments and evaluations while being respectful of the demands on students, teachers and school leaders."
The three-year process for implementing the new Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards, developed from the Common Core State Standards, began in 2010. Maryland is piloting new assessments using the online Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The state's teachers and administrators also are learning a new evaluation system for improving teacher effectiveness and school leadership.
"Improving and ensuring fair evaluations for teachers and principals is perhaps the most difficult and important stage of this progression. We want to do this work well to accelerate student learning and to support teachers and school leaders during this transition, particularly as they learn to use these new tools for professional growth," said State Superintendent Lillian Lowery.
Through its previous federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility request, MSDE obtained flexibility to avoid double-testing and hold schools harmless for one year from federal accountability sanctions when field testing new state assessments for the 2013-2014 school year.
The ESEA waiver extension application recognizes that school year 2014-15 is the baseline year for PARCC implementation and data from the second test administration in school year 2015-16 would be available to use in evaluations in 2016-17.
"The majority of Superintendents in Maryland support the language of the proposed flexibility waiver. We recognize that this is a fluid and dynamic reform that requires adequate time to refine the processes and the products that are being established for the teacher/principal evaluation models. The additional time will help to ensure that the evaluation systems are fair and valid measures designed to support effective teacher/principal practices and enhanced student learning." said Dr. Michael J. Martirano, Superintendent in St. Mary's County and President of the Public School Superintendent Association of Maryland.