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Education

Blueprint board reviews college and career readiness standards, but there’s disagreement on a timeline

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board holds a virtual session Dec. 15. Screenshot.

Exactly two weeks after the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board adopted a comprehensive plan that aims to revamp the state’s education system, it went back to work Thursday.

The board listened to a presentation from Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury on working to create college and career readiness standards, one of four top priorities in the $3.8 billion Blueprint plan.

Choudhury and other Maryland State Department of Education representatives summarized a recently completed exploratory study that shows some high school students’ grade point averages are “slightly more precise” than had been assumed in predicting how they will do when entering a two-year or four-year college or university.

The American Institutes for Research, based in Arlington, Va., will conduct a study to determine the levels and types of literacy in reading, writing and mathematics needed to succeed in entry-level college courses and postsecondary training; assess the current Maryland College and Career Ready Standards; and examine top performing educational systems from around the world. A final report is due is due by Sept. 1 and must be submitted to the department, governor, General Assembly and Blueprint board.

During the meeting, Choudhury and board chair Isiah “Ike” Leggett  disagreed over how long it should take the state to implement revisions to the state’s college and career readiness standards.

Considering that it took from 2010 to 2015 to adopt the current standards for math and language arts, and from 2013 to the 2018-2019 school year for science, Chandra Haislet, the state education department’s director of accountability and data systems, said it could take five years to adopt revisions to the state’s college and career readiness standards.

Leggett said taking five years to revise standards is “unacceptable.”

“That to me would be utterly incompatible with the urgency that we have before us, the urgency in which the General Assembly has adopted this legislation and the needs that are out there.”

Leggett continued: “That is the way we did it in the past…but that’s not where we are today. We cannot rely upon traditional methods to do everything that we’ve talked about. For us to do this at this type of timeframe, simply would not be acceptable in my eyes.”

“Respectfully, Chair Leggett, this is not something that’s dictated by a traditional mindset. This is dictated by federal law as well as [other] processes,” Choudhury said, adding that field tests, professional development and other federal requirements must be adhered to. “We just can’t skip over federal processes for standard setting and such.”

Leggett still disagreed.

“Even if what you’re saying is true, we should not be permitted to do that and we should challenge that because that is not acceptable,” said Leggett, who added that it would leave too many children far behind.

“I wouldn’t describe it like that, but that’s fine,” Choudhury said.

Choudhury asked Laura Stapleton, one of the Blueprint board members who’s a researcher, to chime in.

Stapleton, who chairs the Human Development and Quantitative Methodology Department at the University of Maryland, College Park, said it can take “a very long time” to change curricula, modify teacher preparation and other assessments.

“If we throw a whole bunch of money at things, hire a lot of folks to get things done, then it can be done more quickly, but it takes time,” she said.

The Blueprint board is scheduled to hold a joint meeting Friday with the state Board of Education in Linthicum Heights.