For the third straight year, Maryland public schools are number one in the nation, according to a leading education magazine.
Education Week Magazine ranks Maryland number one with a grade of B+, while the average grade nationwide is a C. The state recieved high marks for its policies, the preparation of its youngest children, and overall achievement.
Gov. Martin O’Malley acknowledged the state’s achievement when he gave the keynote speech Jan. 12 at Education Week’s Quality Counts 2012 Conference in Washington DC. Here’s what he had to say in his speech on how Maryland public schools are doing so well compared to their counterparts nationwide.
On investing in construction…
“In tandem with record investments in operating funding, we invested a record $1.5 billion in school construction to move our students out of temporary learning shacks and into modern classrooms.
Earlier this week, I visited Germantown Elementary in Annapolis. Back in 2005 I saw firsthand the temporary learning shacks in back of an aging, antiquated, woefully undersized school building. Today, because of these record investments, students have the benefit of a brand new school building which is 59% larger. To see Smart Boards in every classroom, to see state-of-the-art science and computer labs, to see handheld quiz machines that calculate instant assessment results–it really says a lot about what these investments mean, not just to a child’s future, but to our state’s future.
In 2010, we proposed investing $250 million in school construction every year for the next four. This year, we’re asking our General Assembly to do $100 million better–with a $373 million investment which would support 11,650 jobs.”
On making students competitive…
“Because our students will someday be competing for jobs against workers from Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America, we are resolved to set expectations in the classroom that are every bit as high, if not higher, than people in places like Finland and Singapore set for their students. So we’ve adopted the Common Core curriculum. We’ve set up Educator Effectiveness Academies to train teachers and principals from every school in our state to teach this new curricula. And we’re developing new assessments which benchmark our student’s progress, not just against students from other states, but other countries.
We believe that by adopting the Common Core Curriculum, we will be able to move closer to the big goal we’ve set of improving student achievement and school, college, career and readiness 25% by 2015. So far, to give you an example of our progress, we’ve been able to achieve a 21% increase in 8th grade reading scores and nearly a 16% increase in math scores. We’ve brought together stakeholders from education, labor, industry, and government to help us as we continue to work toward exceeding this 25% goal.”
On STEM education...
“We’ve put a statewide priority on STEM education. Our goal is to increase the number of STEM college graduates in our state 40% by 2015. So far, we’re more than half way there at 22%, and we continue to forge ahead.”
“Through a new STEM Innovation Network, or STEMnet, we are bringing together the business community, educators, government, higher education, non-profits, and other stakeholders. Through the network, we are setting up STEM teachers with mentors–practicing professionals in the industry who are able to give teachers a better sense of the latest trends and developments within their fields. Part of the magic, is that this allows our teachers to have a background in the STEM clusters where our businesses are strongest–areas like bioscience, cyber security, and green technology. We’re also giving educators online access to STEM curricula, lessons plans, webinars, tutorials, classroom-ready experiments, and professional development.
On another front, in partnership with the Obama Administration and the National Math and Science Initiative, we’re replicating the University of Texas’s “UTeach” initiative, which allows teaching students to cross apply credits from education classes and classes in the STEM disciplines–therefore graduating more future teachers who have backgrounds in these subjects.
We are also partnering with Project Lead the Way, a national non-profit that has developed a STEM curriculum that emphasizes hands-on experiential learning. The idea here is to make sure that students graduate high school with the tools they need to succeed in college-level STEM coursework. Twenty of our school systems have put these curricula in place. So far we’ve enrolled just under 11,000 students. In 2006, we were only at 2,500, so our graphs are moving in the right direction.
Recognizing that one of the things that differentiates Maryland from other states is the strength of our diversity, in Prince George’s County we’re partnering with the University System, Prince George’s Community College, Bowie State University, and the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute on an initiative to recruit more minority STEM students. As a part of this initiative, we will give hundreds of county high school students the opportunity to take college-level science courses. The initiative will also give 100 college students the opportunity to teach in local schools.”