There has been a great deal of buzz around the new Common Core Standards, PARCC assessments, and new principal and teacher evaluations proposed to be implemented in public schools throughout the United States. All public schools in Maryland are facing changes due to legislation and programs approved by the U.S. Department of Education and the Maryland State Board of Education. These changes have been caused by the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html) administered by the U.S. Department of Education and Maryland's flexibility proposal approved under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/esea_flex), also known as the No Child Left Behind Act.
First, let's begin with Maryland's transition to the new Common Core Standards. The Maryland State Board of Education adopted Common Core Standards in Math and Reading/English/Language Arts as part of its Race to the Top application. The frameworks for the new standards are created, but the standards will not be fully implemented in the state curriculum until the 2013-14 school year. Information on the new standards and their impact can be found on the Maryland State Department of Education website (http://mdk12.org/instruction/commoncore/index.html).
Anne Arundel County Public Schools has already begun to implement Common Core strategies across content areas. Full implementation of Common Core Standards for math is under way in grades prekindergarten and grades 1, 2, 6, and 8, as well as in Geometry courses. Common Core Standards will be fully implemented in Anne Arundel County Public Schools by 2013-14. Maryland educators, including AACPS staff, have been attending professional development workshops to prepare for the transition. The change will be gradual, but students and parents will see an increase in rigor of content, a shift of when content is taught, and more inter-disciplinary content that requires critical thinking.
As part of the RTTT initiative, Maryland also joined a consortium known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Through PARCC, 23 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands are working together to develop common English and Math assessments aligned to the Common Core Standards that will be aimed at measuring how well-prepared students are for college and careers. The goal is for these assessments to be implemented in the 2014-15 school year, though the implementation plan for these assessments are yet to be determined.
So what will happen to the state testing program, including the Maryland School Assessments taken by students in grades 3 through 8 and the High School Assessments required to receive a Maryland high school diploma? Both will eventually disappear, though MSDE has yet to finalize a transition plan. Once the plan is in place, stakeholders in Anne Arundel County Public Schools will be informed and prepared. If you need more information about PARCC, please visit their website (http://www.parcconline.org/about-parcc).
Finally, as a part of Maryland accepting the RTTT grant, a proposal was brought forward to create a new system for evaluating teachers and principals. The Maryland State Department of Education created a state default model that will likely be implemented if local school systems, including AACPS do not come up with their own model. AACPS is one of the systems piloting the new state model this year.
In addition to a legislative change that extends the granting of teacher tenure from two to three years, this model evaluates teachers and principals both on qualitative and quantitative measures. This includes the measurement of student achievement by growth on assessments. AACPS is working with MSDE and our employee bargaining units on the new evaluation model. More information about the new system for evaluating teachers and principals in Maryland can be found at http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/NR/rdonlyres/E479C243-AF58-4BD0-B4E8-46677F7757A0/33345/MDTeacherPrincipalReport_041212_rev0912_.pdf).
Note: This post was written by Andrew Pruski, an At-Large Member and current President of the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. He has been a member of the board since 2009 when he was selected to fill a vacant seat, and his term will expire in 2013.