Schools Set To Open For The 2009-2010 Academic Year
Schools Set To Open For The 2009-2010 Academic Year
Most Maryland Schools Begin Classes In August;
Teacher Shortages Less Pronounced Than In Past
BALTIMORE (August 17, 2009) – Public schools begin opening in Maryland this week, August 19, as more than one million students prepare to start the 2009-2010 school year.
Washington County is the first system to begin classes this year. By the time all schools are open Sept. 1, approximately 850,000 K-12 students will fill classrooms and more than 250,000 children will be involved in some form of pre-K, Head Start, or licensed childcare program.
Twenty-three of Maryland’s 24 school systems begin classes this month, as most schools open next week. Only Allegany County in Western Maryland is set to begin classes September 1.
“The new school year is an exciting time for students, their families, and educators, and we have good reason in Maryland to feel optimistic,” said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. “Our schools rank at the top of many national measures and our classrooms are filled with the most qualified teachers in state history.”
Among the headlines for the new school year:
The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires that all students be proficient in reading and mathematics by the year 2014. To that end, the performance bar rises on an annual basis, a goal for schools known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Each year, those academic performance goals become more difficult to reach. New figures for elementary and middle schools, released earlier this summer, found that most schools are meeting those rising targets, and that achievement is on the rise across Maryland.
Maryland school systems this week were offering the last few contracts for the 2009-2010 school year amid indications that the teacher shortages that have long plagued many systems have not been as big of a problem the past two years. Maryland schools are scheduled to welcome nearly 4,000 new teachers and classroom personnel this fall, and an informal survey last week found that about than 490 positions remained unfilled—approximately the same as this time last year. Shortages found this fall are in areas of chronic need: special education, foreign language, and high school science and math.
Maryland schools also have dramatically increased the percentage of classes taught by highly qualified teachers. Nearly 90 percent (89.6 percent) of classes in Maryland last year were taught by teachers with Advanced or Standard Professional Certification in the subject area they were teaching. In 2003 that percentage was 81.4 percent. Maryland also has 1,366 Nationally Board Certified Teachers, ranking 15th in the nation. The state welcomed a record 302 new Nationally Board Certified Teachers last year.
High School Assessments
This year’s graduation class (the class of 2010) is the second group of students required to pass end-of-course assessments in algebra, biology, English 2, and government before being allowed to graduate with a Maryland diploma. The High School Assessment (HSA) requirement, instituted by the Maryland State Board of Education in 2004, is part of a national effort advocated by higher education and business leaders to strengthen the high school diploma.
A preliminary analysis indicates that the HSA requirement did not prove to be a major impediment to graduation. Moreover, there has been no evidence that the new requirement led to an increase in the dropout rate.
Common Core Standards
Maryland in June joined 49 other states and territories in the development of Common Core Standards. Governor Martin O’Malley and Dr. Grasmick signed the national
initiative, a state-led effort to develop common English and mathematics standards for the nation. The project is being jointly led by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
CCSSO and NGA plan to release a draft of the Common Core Standards in mid-September.
For more on the standards
An outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus caused several Maryland schools to shut their doors for a brief time this past spring. Cases of the flu continue to be reported throughout the nation, and health experts say that States should prepare for a potentially severe outbreak this school year. MSDE has been working closely with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) to get ready for the flu’s return, holding a summit in July with local health and education officials.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed this past spring, John Colmers, the Secretary of DHMH, will make the decision on when to close schools for health reasons such as an H1N1 outbreak. He will do so in consultation with Dr. Grasmick and the Maryland Emergency Management Administration. Meanwhile, state and local education officials are working on contingency plans in such an instance, which will include how to best isolate sick children and staff, and how to communicate with parents. For more on federal H1N1 plans, including school plans, see http://www.flu.gov.
New Charter Schools
Three new public charter schools will open in Maryland this fall, bringing the total number of charters in the state to 36. Those schools will enroll an estimated 10,372 students this fall, up from 8,000 last fall.
The new schools are Monarch Academy Public Charter School in Anne Arundel County, and two in Baltimore City: City Neighbors Hamilton and KIPP Harmony.
Developing Young Minds
Maryland has a new way to challenge young learners. MSDE this summer released the new Primary Talent Development (PTD) Early Learning Program, focusing on PreK to grade 2. PTD nurtures and challenges the 21st century learning skills of critical and creative thinking, innovation, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving.
PTD uses a science-based “expert thinking” curriculum to spark learning in young students. Students will be exposed to a program that targets essential learning behaviors, such as perceptiveness, communication, inquisitiveness, and creativity. Development of the program was funded by a federal grant through the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Program, and it will be implemented in 13 Maryland school systems this fall.
Healthier and Safer Students
Maryland this fall will begin to offer the At-Risk Afterschool Supper program, administered by MSDE’s School and Community Nutrition Branch and funded through a federal grant. The program will allow afterschool programs to serve nutritious meals to children 18 and under during the school year – including weekends and school breaks. There is wealth of evidence available showing the connection between proper nutrition and intellectual development.
For more information on the program
MSDE recently released “Making Wellness Work: A Guide to Implementing and Monitoring Wellness Policies in Maryland.” State and local educators, nutritionists, and health officials contributed to the development of the guide. Wellness committees from five school systems piloted the guide in 2008. The guide provides sample goals for each of four components required by federal law: physical activity and education, nutrition standards, nutrition education, and other school-based activities that promote wellness.
For more information about school wellness
Maryland continues to be a national leader in the implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS). The State trained 112 schools in the program this summer, bringing the total of schools trained in PBIS to 760.
For more on PBIS
There are more Green Schools in Maryland this fall than ever before. The Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education this spring recognized 69 new Maryland Green Schools and 24 re-certifications. With these new additions, there are now 271 Maryland schools with Green School status.
The Maryland Green School Awards Program is a holistic, integrated approach to learning that incorporates local environmental issue investigation and professional development with environmental best management practices and community stewardship.
For more information on the program
School Start Dates
All Maryland schools are opening their doors before Labor Day, with Washington County starting everything off on Aug. 19. The remaining systems:
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