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Blueprint board assesses timeline, process in rolling out comprehensive education plan

Some of the guidelines state and local officials must adhere to that will be managed by the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board. (Screen shot. Photo courtesy of Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board)

Analyze accuracy of data collected from state agencies and local school systems.

Monitor progress for community schools that receive concentration of poverty grants.

Hold state and local agencies accountable to ensure they correctly implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education plan.

Those are just three measures the Blueprint’s Accountability and Implementation Board reviewed during a virtual session Thursday. The meeting focused on the group’s fifth subject area, governance and accountability.

Although the board will strictly monitor governance of the plan, it will also assess four other topics that the blueprint aims to address: early childhood education, high-quality and diverse teachers and leaders, college and career readiness and additional resources for students.

The board will receive additional advice from advisory committees on those four topics.

Each of the four committees has six members and among them are public school administrators, teachers, college professors and students.

According to the roster, Prince George’s County has the most committee members with at least five people who work or reside in the majority-Black jurisdiction.

The board continues to receive suggestions from residents, teachers, administrators and other school officials on improving the plan.

Rachel Hise, executive director of the board, said some guidelines outlined in the plan cannot be changed because they are set in state statute.

For instance, the Blueprint board must monitor and analyze how money is being spent on certain school-level programs such as English-language learners and special education.

Local school systems must show that the money goes toward each student, but how they would do that has not been defined.

Under the law establishing the Blueprint, local school systems must submit data to the state Department of Education by Jan. 1 annually.  Then the department must submit it to the Blueprint board.

Hise said this is a new reporting requirement for local school officials.

“This is a heavy lift for the school systems, but it’s really important to gauge whether the dollars are going where the Blueprint intends them to go,” she said.

Another requirement is that each of the state’s 24 school systems must appoint a local Blueprint coordinator to summarize how the program will affect their schools.

Some residents and local officials asked whether Blueprint reforms would duplicate some work already required by the state.

“There isn’t any intent to duplicate work or effort,” Hise said.

‘Criteria for success’

State school superintendent Mohammed Choudhury conducted a roughly 40-minute presentation on how each school system would create “criteria for success” to implement the Blueprint.

He said the state would create benchmarks to measure and enhance student achievement. Those would include whether enough children are enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs, enough national board-certified teachers are working in low-performing schools, enough middle school students are enrolled in Algebra 1 and enough students are taking courses for which they can get college credit.

Choudhury proposed that officials in each county and in Baltimore host public informational sessions on each of the five subject areas.

“We want to give our districts time to write and develop their plans to get feedback from [state officials and the Blueprint board],” he said.

Because of the plan’s scope, Choudhury presented two options for school systems to submit plans.

One option would be for school superintendents to submit plans in four phases.

Under that option, two plans focused on governance and resources for students would be turned in by March 15. Designs for early childhood education would be due by July 15. Plans on hiring high-quality and diverse teachers would be due by Dec. 15, 2023. Finally, plans for college and career readiness would be due by March 15, 2024.

A second option would be to “phase-in” development of plans in those five subjects in order to implement an “initial” plan by March 15 and complete it in July 2024.

“This is just a new experience for our school systems,” Choudhury said. “We are asking them to submit a master plan for completely reimaging how their [school] district operates. Phasing in the work does matter.”

However, the Blueprint board must approve a final plan by Dec. 1 and send it to the General Assembly and the governor.

Board chair and former Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett said the board will provide a response on Choudhury’s timeline proposal after the full board and staff review it.

“Once we make a decision, it needs to be a full and complete option,” he said. “In other words, we’re not going back and forth between the various options that are out there. We come to an agreement on what it is we are going to agree on and move forward.”


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Blueprint board assesses timeline, process in rolling out comprehensive education plan