Priority Issue: The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

 


The Blueprint for Maryland's Future Legislation is Now Law!

The Blueprint for Maryland's Future Act is a landmark, generational piece of legislation intended to enhance and improve the state and local investment in, and school system operation of, Maryland's public school system and each of the schools within the 24 local school systems on behalf of each of our nearly 1 million Prek-12 students. This 235-page bill, unprecedented in thoroughness, ambition, and cost, contains the policy and funding recommendations of the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, described in much greater detail below.

Where to Find the Blueprint Law

It's complicated. House Bill 1300, the 235-page bill passed in 2020 was passed a second time in 2021 by overriding the Governor's 2020 veto. Therefore, this bill needed updating to extend timelines, and legislators wanted to include new provisions to address COVID-related issues. So, House Bill 1372 (a 45-page bill) was passed to update and complement the core legislation, House Bill 1300.

At this time, both bills must be read (and cross-referenced) to grasp the array of funding and policy provisions that constitute the Blueprint. Later this year the Education Article (the statute containing every provision of the Blueprint) will be updated and available online. For now, the "Fiscal and Policy Notes" for the respective bills provide very helpful narrative descriptions of bill provisions as well as state and local funding tables.


Making Sense of the Blueprint

MABE provides the following summary, and extensive series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), to highlight the Kirwan Commission's recommendations under each of the 5 major policy areas and to describe the corresponding provisions of the Blueprint law, including the updates adopted in 2021.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Act Overview & Updates (7/26/2021) Presentation & PDF

 


Alert - In early August 2021 updated funding tables were published by the Dept. of Legislative Services (DLS).
Update - In late September additional information was uploaded on the Local Share of Funding by Program.

The following link is to the Dept. of Legislative Services webpage on Education Policy.

Link: http://dls.maryland.gov/policy-areas/education#

On the DLS Education Policy site, the panel on the left has drop-downs that expand into numerous documents.

For Example: “Fiscal Effects – FY 2023 Direct State Aid by Program and County

Link: http://dls.maryland.gov/pubs/prod/NoPblTabMtg/CmsnInnovEduc/Direct_State_Aid_Under_the_Blueprint_by_Program_YEARS.pdf

 


MABE Ad Hoc Committee on the Blueprint

MABE has created an Ad Hoc Committee to provide a forum for coordinated monitoring, inquiry, analysis, and communications relating to the State and local implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future.

Committee Roster & Charge

Blueprint Overview Presentation (9/10/2021)

 


 

Blueprint Implementation Timeline – Initial Dates of Interest

  • Six-member Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) Nominating Committee formed. (Formed on May 19, 2021; Began meeting on July 8, 2021; Link to the Nominating Committee's website.)
  • The Governor must initially choose seven AIB members from a slate of nine names submitted by the Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee accepted nominations through August 4, 2021 and announced their 9 nominees on September 1, 2021.
  • For FY 2022 through 2026, the governing body of a county and the local school system must jointly appoint a single implementation coordinator responsible for the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future by all government units operating in the county. (Appointments of local coordinators were completed as of late July 2021.)
  • Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, local school systems must implement a “9th grade tracker system” to measure each student’s progress toward graduating on time, including credit accumulation and report outcomes to MSDE which must report to the AIB and Longitudinal Data System Center.
  • The AIB must complete the Blueprint Comprehensive Implementation Plan by February 15, 2022.
  • After February 15, 2022, and no later than April 1, 2022, MSDE must develop criteria to be used to recommend approval or disapproval of local school system implementation plans and release of funds.
  • Local boards must submit their implementation plans to the AIB by June 15, 2022.
  • Beginning on July 1, 2022, teacher salary increases associated with the career ladder must, at a minimum, include the salary increases stipulated for National Board Certified (NBC) teachers.
  • By July 1, 2023, MSDE in collaboration with the AIB must implement a financial management system and student data system capable of tracking and analyzing the information provided to the State Board of Education from local board budgets.
  • Beginning in FY 2023, 25% of the increase in the State share of major education aid over the amount provided in the current fiscal year shall be automatically withheld by the AIB from a local school system for the next fiscal year. In FY 2023 through FY 2025, the AIB’s release of these funds is conditioned on the local school system having an approved implementation plan. Beginning in FY 2026, the AIB’s release of these funds is discretionary based on findings of local implementation.

Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) on the
Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Act

MABE provides the following summary, and extensive series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), to highlight the Kirwan Commission's recommendations under each of the 5 major policy areas and to describe the corresponding provisions of the Blueprint law, including the updates adopted in 2021.

Kirwan Commission Recommendations Become Law 

The Kirwan Commission developed its recommendations over three years (2017-2019) in five major policy areas, and the Blueprint law reflects each of these policy areas.

  •  Early Childhood Education;
  •  High-quality and Diverse Teachers and Leaders;
  •  College and Career Readiness Pathways
    (including Career and Technical Education);
  •  More Resources to Ensure All Students are Successful; and
  •  Governance and Accountability.

Early Childhood Education

The Commission’s final report under Policy Area 1: Early Childhood Education recommended the following:

  • A significant expansion of full-day prekindergarten (pre-K), to be free for all low-income 3‑ and 4‑year-olds and available to all other 4-year-olds with fees set at a sliding scale, so that all children have the opportunity to begin kindergarten ready to learn;
  • Public funding for both public-school based and community-based pre-K programs, with all providers receiving public funding required to meet rigorous quality standards;
  • A substantial increase in the supply of early childhood education teachers through tuition assistance and financial support for those pursuing credentials and degrees; and
  • An expansion of both Family Support Centers for pre- and post-natal support and Judy Centers for early childhood education and family support; and full funding of the Infants and Toddlers Program to identify early and provide supports to young children with disabilities.

How does the Blueprint law implement the Commission recommendations regarding early childhood education?

The Bridge to Excellence Act of 2002 required that, by the 2007-2008 school year, every school system provide full-day kindergarten for all eligible students and access to half-day pre-kindergarten programs for all economically disadvantaged four year old children (based on 185% of the federal poverty level).  Since that time, prekindergarten grant programs have been expanded to assist school systems and private providers in providing half-day and full-day prekindergarten for income-eligible three and four year olds whose parents or guardians voluntarily enroll in these programs. This was a major facet of the preliminary Blueprint legislation (SB 1030, Ch. 771, 2019 Laws of Maryland).

The Blueprint law adopts the Commission’s recommendations to require local school systems to expand full-day programs to include three-year-olds and partner with private providers who must meet rising quality standards. In addition, the law increases the number of Judy Centers and Family Support Centers.

How does the Blueprint expand access to prekindergarten programs?

The Blueprint establishes the Publicly Funded Full-Day Prekindergarten Program to guarantee the availability of slots in public schools or private facilities at no cost for three-year-olds and four-year-olds from families with incomes up to 300% of the federal poverty level (FPL) ($79,500 for a family of four in 2021) and for four-year-olds from families with incomes between 300% and 600% FPL using a sliding scale (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-1A-01).

How is eligibility for free full-day prekindergarten determined?

All three and four year old children from families with incomes of 300% or less of the federal poverty level (FPL) are defined as Tier I children who are eligible for access to free public or private full-day prekindergarten programs.  For funding purposes, the law defines these students as enrolled students beginning in FY 2023 (2022-2023 school year).

Beginning in FY 2025 (2024-2025 school year) Tier II children, from families with incomes between 300% and 600%, also become eligible for funding as enrolled students (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-229). However, the availability of slots for eligible children is a function of the availability of slots in public and private programs that meet eligibility criteria and thereby qualify for approval and funding.

How is the eligibility of prekindergarten providers determined?

The Blueprint includes the goal of “Expanding access to high-quality, full-day prekindergarten programs for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds through a mixed delivery system” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 1-303). High quality is defined in the law through provisions that condition eligibility for funding for both public and private providers on quality standards pertaining to educational programs, class size, educator qualifications, and educator pay (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-1A-04). The funding formula is, in fact, referred to as the “cost of quality” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-1A-01).

The law specifies that, beginning in the 2025-2026 school year, “All eligible prekindergarten providers shall include structural elements that are evidence-based and nationally recognized as important for ensuring program quality." Teachers must at a minimum hold state certification for teaching in early education or have a bachelor’s degree in any field and pursuing residency through an approved alternative program.  Teaching assistants must have at least a child development associate certificate or an associates degree (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-1A-04).

In addition, program eligibility is based on continuous improvement measured by the EXCELS quality rating system. Eligible private providers must achieve a rating of 3 and public providers must receive a rating of 4. All programs must submit a plan to achieve rating of 5 within 5 years.

How is free full-day prekindergarten funded?

The law establishes a “cost of quality” calculation of state, local, and family shares of the per pupil costs of public and private prekindergarten (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-229). Total per pupil amounts are specified in the statute and for Tier I students the entire cost is split between the state and local government. The law requires a calculation of state, local, and family share of the total per pupil cost Once Tier II students become eligible for funded slots.

In addition, the prekindergarten expansion grants provided under section 7-101.2 of the Education Article will continue through FY 2026 for programs serving Tier I children.

How is income verification for eligibility to be conducted?

By November 1, 2021, MSDE must develop and report to the AIB its plan for an income verification process to determine eligibility for Tier I, Tier II, or Tier III status of a child (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-229).

May public schools charge tuition for prekindergarten?

Yes. Tier I students from families with incomes of 300% or less of the FPL are guaranteed free access to public or private prekindergarten programs.  However, for Tier II students from families with incomes between 300% and 600% of the FPL, the law allocates the responsibility to fund the per pupil cost among the state, local government, and family. This “family share” is essentially the amount of tuition a family would be charged. The law provides that “beginning in FY 2025 the family shall pay the family share to the publicly funded prekindergarten provider” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-229). The law also allows a local school system to pay up to 100% of the family share.

The law requires that MSDE report to the AIB by November 1, 2021 with “recommendations for the methodology the Department will use to calculate the State, local, and family share for Tier II children under the sliding scale” for families with household incomes between 300% and 600% of the federal poverty level (FPL) (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-229). By July 1, 2022, MSDE must develop the sliding scale to calculate the family share required for Tier II children. The lower limit is 0% for families with an income that is 300% of FPL and increase on a linear basis to the upper limit for families with an income of less than 600% of FPL (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-229).

Must public or private providers provide student transportation services for prekindergarten students?

The law requires MSDE, local school systems, and eligible providers to “work together to address the transportation needs of children enrolled in eligible prekindergarten providers” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-229).

May parents/guardians choose between public and private prekindergarten programs?

The law requires that MSDE report to the AIB by November 1, 2021 on its plans for “providing families with the ability to indicate a preference for the public or private prekindergarten program in which to enroll their child” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-229).

May a prekindergarten student be suspended or expelled?

Generally, no. Eligible prekindergarten providers, including private providers, are prohibited from suspending or expelling a child who is enrolled in a prekindergarten program except as provided in § 7-305.1 of the Education Article, under which a prekindergarten, kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 student:

“[M]ay only be: (i) Expelled from school if required by federal law; or (ii) Suspended for not more than 5 school days if the school administration, in consultation with a school psychologist or other mental health professional, determines that there is an imminent threat of serious harm to other students or staff that cannot be reduced or eliminated through interventions and supports.”

Must private providers comply with anti-discrimination laws?

Yes. The law includes antidiscrimination conditions prohibiting providers from engaging in explicitly religious activity during school hours. Specifically, the law requires that “an eligible prekindergarten provider shall comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, Title 20, Subtitle 6 of the State Government Article, and not discriminate in student admissions, retention, or expulsion or otherwise discriminate against any student or parent of a student on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-1A-04).

Must school systems and private providers enter into legal agreements?

Yes. School systems must enter into memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with private providers, including several mandated elements (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-1A-05). Before executing an MOU, the local board must submit its proposed MOU(s) to AIB as part of their local implementation plans in accordance with § 5-404.


High-Quality and Diverse Teachers and Leaders

The Commission’s final report under Policy Area 2: High-quality and Diverse Teachers and School Leaders recommended the following:

  • Making teaching a high-status profession by raising the pay and status of teachers, including a performance‑based career ladder, a minimum statewide salary, and salaries comparable to similarly educated professionals;
  • A substantial increase the rigor of the teacher preparation curriculum with teachers completing a full year clinical experience organized and managed by teacher education and district partnerships;
  • A redesign of schools to be places where teachers are treated as professionals with a system of incentives and supports – a career ladder – to continuously improve their professional practice and the performance of their students;
  • Creation of a leadership development system that prepares school leaders at all levels – State, district and school – to give them the vision, skills, and knowledge they need to implement the recommendations made in the Commission’s report and manage high-performing schools; and
  • Improved recruiting and professional development efforts to create and sustain a teaching faculty that better reflects the racial and ethnic makeup of the student body.

How does the Blueprint law implement the Commission recommendations regarding educator preparation, working conditions, and compensation?

The Blueprint law codifies new statewide systems of compensation, working conditions, and professional development for teachers and principals, and increases per pupil funding to support these initiatives. However, the law preserves the role of collective bargaining negotiations to develop these new systems at the local level, including the career ladders. In addition, the law requires teacher preparation programs to be aligned with the Blueprint and increase the diversity of new teachers.

What is meant by a career ladder?

The Blueprint law includes the mission to “require high-quality diverse teachers and school leaders in every school” and the “elevation of the teaching profession to a profession comparable to other fields, with comparable compensation, that require a similar amount of education and credentialing with career ladders that allow the advancement of teachers and principals based on knowledge, skills, performance, and responsibilities” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 1-303).

The Blueprint law, under new Subtitle 10. Career Ladder for Educators, defines the statewide purpose, terms, and standards which govern the career ladders each local school system is required to establish and implement by July 1, 2024.  Section 6-1002(b) provides a lengthy set of purpose statements, Section 6-1002(d) lists requirements, Section 6-1002(e) provides guiding principles, and Section 6-1002(c) specifies that the career ladder is subject to collective bargaining, except as specified in the law.

For example, the purposes of career ladders include “transforming teaching into a high-status profession” as well as to “support the reorganization of schools to provide teachers with professional learning and peer collaboration time during the school day.” The requirements of career ladders include “support and encourage teachers working in teams to systematically improve schools and curricula” and “provide teachers with opportunity to identify and work with students who need extra help.”

The guiding principles for the development of career ladders are:

  • Progression of teachers in a manner that incentivizes teachers to stay on the teacher track rather than moving to the administrator track;
  • A teacher salary that attracts new teachers to the profession;
  • A teacher salary that incentivizes existing teachers to opt in to the career ladder;
  • Teacher salary progression as performance increases as demonstrated by a teacher achieving National Board Certification (NBC); and
  • Incentives that are successful in all local school systems.

What are the levels required in all career ladders?

The law, under Section 6-1002(f), specifies the following four levels:

  • Level one is a state certified teacher;
  • Level two is a teacher pursuing: (i) a Master’s Degree; (ii) 30 credits of a program of study approved by the State Board, in consultation with the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board; or (iii) NBC;
  • Level three is: (i) a NBC an NBC teacher; (ii) a if there is no assessment comparable to NBC for the teacher’s subject area, a teacher with an advanced professional certificate a Master’s Degree in the teacher’s subject area; or (iii) an assistant principal; and
  • Level four is: (i) a teacher on the teacher leadership track, in the following tiers: 1. lead teacher; 2. master distinguished teacher; or 3. professor master distinguished teacher; or (ii) a teacher on the administrator track, in the following tiers: 1. licensed principal; or 2. master distinguished principal.

Are school systems required to adopt career ladders?

Yes. The law requires each local board to implement a career ladder that meets the requirements of State law by July 1, 2024. In addition, the law states that a county board may not receive funding from the State for the implementation of the career ladder under Section 6–1009 unless the board implements a career ladder that meets the State requirements under Subtitle 10 (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. Local § 6-1002(l)).

Are all teachers required to participate in the career ladder?

No. The law merely encourages teachers “to obtain an NBC and participate in the career ladder” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-1008).

Is the career ladder performance-based?

The Kirwan Commission clearly recommended “making teaching a high-status profession by raising the pay and status of teachers, including a performance‑based career ladder, a minimum statewide salary, and salaries comparable to similarly educated professionals” (Final Report, Jan. 2020).

The Blueprint law reflects this objective by requiring that movement up the career ladder shall depend, in part, on the teacher’s performance. The law requires local school systems to adopt teacher evaluation systems aligned with the Blueprint and provides that “a teacher may not be promoted to the next level or tier on the career ladder unless their most recent evaluation was, at least, effective" (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-1007).

Specifically, the Blueprint law requires that local teacher evaluation systems used in connection with career ladders must:

  • Be aligned with the five core propositions of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards;
  • Include a peer assistance and review model;
  • Define the system’s expectations for an evaluator’s level of skill and knowledge; and
  • Include a calibrated method to measure performance and to provide personalized feedback that is aligned with the teacher’s strengths, needs, and professional learning context.

Must school systems provide salary increases to all teachers?

Yes, but not all educators or other school employees. By July 1, 2024, each local board must demonstrate to the AIB that, during the period between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2024, teachers in the school system received a 10% salary increase above the negotiated schedule of salary increases between the public school employer and exclusive representative for the employee organization (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-1009(d)).

However, teachers eligible for the mandated salary increases provided under the Blueprint include only “a certified public school employee who is primarily responsible for and accountable for teaching the students in the class” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-1001). The law clarifies that “teacher” does not include: curriculum specialists, instructional aides, attendance personnel, psychologists, social workers, clerical personnel, an individual with a resident teacher certificate, or an individual with a certificate for career professionals” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-1001).

The law also specifies amounts of additional salary increases that must be provided to teachers based on their NBC status, becoming lead teachers, and other criteria. Teachers qualifying for multiple salary increases must be provided with all increases (e.g. $10,000 per NBC teacher, and $7,000 per NBC teacher at a low-performing school).

Who pays for mandated teacher salary increases?

The Blueprint law provides that teacher salary increases are to be a shared cost between the State and local governments (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-1009).

What is the minimum salary for any teacher in the State?

Beginning on July 1, 2026, the minimum teacher salary for all teachers shall be $60,000 (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-1009).

Are teachers intended to teach fewer hours?

Yes. In accordance with the requirements for career ladders, the law states that a teacher on level one, two, or three of the career ladder shall:

  • Teach in the classroom on average 60% of the teacher’s working time; and
  • Spend the remaining time on other teacher activities, including: (i) improving instruction; (ii) identifying, working with, and tutoring students who need additional help; (iii) working with the most challenging students; (iv) working with students living in concentrated poverty; and (v) leading or participating in professional learning (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-1003).

Are principals required to teach?

In accordance with the requirements for career ladders, assistant principals will be required to teach in the classroom for at least 20% of their working hours (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-1002). Principals are encouraged, but not required, to teach in the classroom for at least 10% of their working hours (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-1006).

Must teacher preparation programs be aligned with the Blueprint?

Yes. By September 30, 2022, MSDE and the Maryland Higher Education Commission must review the teacher preparation programs offered at each Maryland institution of higher education for alignment of program requirements with the Blueprint. If a program requirement is determined to be unaligned with the Blueprint and also “extraneous, redundant, or unnecessary” the requirement is to be eliminated.

In addition, the AIB is responsible for monitoring and reviewing the performance of each teacher preparation program in the State, including alternative preparation programs.

Must teacher preparation programs include one year of student teaching?

The law specifies that all participants in undergraduate teacher preparation programs must complete a teacher training practicum requirement for graduation; and that the practicum shall initially be a minimum of 100 days.  Beginning on July 1, 2025, the practicum must be the equivalent of one full school year (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-120).

How is diversity within the teacher workforce enhanced under the Blueprint?

By July 1, 2026, the AIB, in consultation with the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center, must perform an evaluation that measures the effectiveness of efforts to increase diversity in: (1) enrollment in teacher preparation programs; (2) teacher candidates who successfully graduate from teacher preparation programs and subsequently enter the teaching profession; and (3) teachers and school leaders in primary and secondary schools in the State (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-414).


College and Career Readiness Pathways

The Commission’s final report under Policy Area 3: College and Career Readiness Pathways (Including Career and Technical Education (CTE)) recommended the following:

  • Establishing an internationally benchmarked curriculum that enables most students to achieve “college‑ and career‑ready” status by the end of grade 10 and then pursue pathways that include IB, AP, or Cambridge diploma programs, early college, and/or a rigorous technical education leading to industry‑recognized credentials and high‑paying jobs;
  • A fully aligned instructional system including curriculum frameworks, syllabi, assessments, clear examples of standard-setting work, and formative assessments to keep students on track;
  • Setting the College and Career Readiness Standard (CCR) to global standards that certifies that those who reach it have the required literacy in English and mathematics (and when practicable science) to succeed in first-year credit bearing courses in open enrollment postsecondary institutions (mainly community colleges) in the State; and
  • Creation of a CTE system that produces graduates ready and qualified to work in in-demand fields that will propel Maryland’s economic future.

How does the Blueprint law implement the Commission recommendations regarding college and career readiness?

The Blueprint law adopts the Commission’s recommendation to transform high schools by mandating structured pathways for students in 11th and 12th grades to college level courses and career and technical education (CTE) leading to professional certifications, and increases per pupil funding to support these initiatives. The law also shifts the governance of CTE programs from MSDE to a new committee reporting to the AIB.

How is college and career readiness measured?

The Blueprint’s goal for increased attainment of CCR is stated as:

An instructional system that is benchmarked to world-class standards and fully aligned from prekindergarten through 12th grade to a college and career readiness standard, including:

A college and career readiness standard set to world-class standards that certifies that by the end of 10th grade, and not later than the end of 12th grade, a student has the requisite literacy in English and mathematics to be successful in first-year, credit-bearing coursework at a Maryland community college or open enrollment postsecondary institution (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 1-303).

The law re-states this standard under Section 7-205.1 and sets the assessment standards for CCR as follows:

Meeting the CCR standard shall initially require a student to achieve the equivalent of a score of 4 or 5 in the mathematics and English portions of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career Readiness grade 10 assessments on or the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program grade 10 assessments or any successor assessments.

The law also requires MSDE to conduct an empirical standard-setting study on which updated assessment standards must be based.

In addition, the AIB is required to “Coordinate with MSDE on the State’s participation in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey program." PISA is a an international assessment endorsed by the Kirwan Commission, which cited its statewide use in Massachusetts.

Are programs required to be made available to students achieving college and career readiness?

Yes. Beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, all students who meet the CCR standard are required to be provided with access to the following post-CCR pathways, at no cost including fees: (1) a competitive entry college preparatory program, chosen by the local board; (2) a program that allows a student, through an early college program or dual enrollment at a student’s high school and an institution of higher education to earn an Associate’s degree or at least 60 credits; and (3) a robust set of CTE programs that are recommended by the CTE Skills Standards Advisory Committee and approved by the CTE Committee, including apprenticeships and dual enrollment in credit or eligible noncredit certificate programs (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-205.1).

In addition, students must be given the option to participate in a credit or noncredit certificate or license program, course, or sequence of courses, including a program or courses taken through dual enrollment at a secondary or postsecondary institution, through an advanced placement course at a secondary institution, or through an apprenticeship sponsor that leads to an industry recognized occupational-credential or postsecondary certificate.

How does the Blueprint affect the State role in developing and directing curriculum?

The Blueprint mandates the development of new State curriculum resources which the State may require a school to adopt based on low performance. However, the law clarifies that otherwise the law “does not require a public school or county board to adopt the department’s curriculum standards or curriculum resources and may not be construed to restrict a county board’s authority to adopt curricula under § 4-111” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-202.1).

The law requires MSDE to work in consultation with teachers to develop curriculum standards and curriculum resources for each subject at each grade level, that build on one another in logical sequence, in core subjects” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-202.1).  The required curriculum resources are further defined to include course syllabi, sample lessons, examples of student work, and explanations of why student work meets proficiency standards.

Implementation plans must include plans to “adapt curriculum, instruction, and the organization of the school day to enable more students to achieve college and career readiness by the end of 10th grade” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-404).   

The law also encourages local school systems to develop introductory CTE courses “with the goal of making career and technical education a part of all elementary, middle school, and high school curricula” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-125).

Are programs required to be made available to students not achieving college and career readiness by the end of 10th grade?

Yes. The Blueprint law establishes new requirements that school systems provide “pathways for those students who have not achieved the college and career readiness standard by the end of 10th grade that enable them to achieve the standard by the end of 12th grade.” In addition, the law requires that schools “provide the appropriate, individualized instruction and supports needed to get the student back on track for college and career readiness” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 1-303).

How are school systems required to address students not on track to achieve college and career readiness?

The Blueprint law requires local school systems, beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, to implement a “9th grade tracker system” to measure each student’s progress toward graduating on time, including credit accumulation and report outcomes to MSDE which must report to the AIB and Longitudinal Data System Center (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-203.5).

The law mandates that by the 2022-2023 school year local boards of education develop and implement, in collaboration with community colleges, a program of study for students who have not met the CCR standard by the end of 10th grade (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-205.1).

What is the definition of Career and Technical Education (CTE)?

The Blueprint law renames Career and Technology Education to be Career and Technical Education and initially retains the definition under Section 21-203 requiring that CTE programs must:

  • Offer a sequence of academic and occupational courses, career development, and work experience to prepare students to begin careers and to pursue lifelong learning; and
  • Integrate academic knowledge and occupational competence to enable 30 students to develop the critical thinking, problem solving, employability, and technical skills required to meet the workforce preparation and economic development needs of the 21st century.

The Blueprint revisions bill also expands the definition of CTE programs to include those taken through apprenticeship sponsors and expands dual enrollment to include non-credit courses leading to a certificate or license.

The Blueprint law creates a CTE Committee within the Governor’s Workforce Development Board to develop a new statewide framework and set of standards. Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, CTE programs offered by public schools must be aligned with the CTE system developed by the CTE Committee.

What is the role of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Committee?

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Committee is responsible for developing and overseeing the implementation of rigorous CTE pathways under Section 21-209 of the Education Article. (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 21-201). The Committee must establish “inclusive, statewide goals that reach 45% by the 2030-2031 school year, for the percentage of high school students who, prior to graduation, complete a high school level of a registered apprenticeship or industry-recognized occupational credential” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 21-204).

The Committee is also authorized to recommend that the AIB withhold funding from local school systems.

The CTE Committee is required, in part, to:

  • Develop a statewide framework for CTE that prepares students for employment in a diverse, modern economy;
  • Allocate roles and responsibilities to state agencies for the credentialing of students engaged in CTE programs;
  • Adopt, and, where appropriate, develop and regularly update a comprehensive and cohesive system of occupational skills standards to drive the state’s CTE system;
  • Ensure that CTE programs are aligned with the state’s economic development and workforce goals and operate with best global practices;
  • Set content qualification and recruitment standards for CTE instructors;
  • Determine which programs should be approved for credit towards high school graduation requirements;
  • Approve, reject, or modify the proposals made by the CTE Skills Standards Advisory Committee; and
  • Establish, administer, and supervise the CTE Expert Review Teams.

In addition, the CTE Committee is responsible for the administration of the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and aligning the state’s plan for administering the Perkins Act with the Blueprint.

What is the role of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Skills Advisory Committee?

The purpose of the CTE Skills Advisory Board is to make recommendations and provide advice to the CTE Committee on setting the occupational standards necessary for a strong CTE system. The recommendations made by the Advisory Committee are to form the basis for the post–CCR CTE pathway required under § 7–205.1. The Advisory Committee is to be composed of members appointed by the chair of the CTE committee that include employers, unions, apprenticeship sponsors, and other experts on occupational skills, with a preference for members of the Governor’s Workforce Development Board.

Are there specialized CTE Expert Review Teams?

Yes. The CTE Committee must develop a plan to deploy CTE Expert Review Teams beginning in 2022 (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-412).


More Resources to Ensure All Students are Successful

The Commission’s final report under Policy Area 4: More Resources to Ensure that All Students are Successful recommended the following:

  • Broad and sustained new academic, social service, and health supports for students and schools that need them the most;
  • Increasing funding for special education significantly to improve outcomes;
  • Additional funding for English Learners (EL) students, including EL family coordinators;
  • Creating a new program for schools with high concentrations of students living in poverty, in addition to student-based funding through the compensatory education formula. The new Concentration of Poverty School Grants would fund community schools that coordinate needed social services, before‑ and after‑school and summer academic programs, and expanded student access to school-based health services. In addition to a base amount for each school, the amount of additional funding would be based on the concentration of poverty in a school above 55%; and
  • Establishing a Transitional Supplemental Instruction for Struggling Learners program to provide additional funding for one-on-one and small-group instruction for students who are not, or are not on track to, reading at grade level by grade 3 (secondarily students who are not proficient in math). These funds are provided over a six-year period, ultimately phasing out as other components of the new education system are implemented, including more time outside the classroom for teachers to provide personalized instruction to students who need additional supports.

How does the Blueprint law implement the Commission recommendations regarding inadequacies and inequities in funding, services, and student outcomes?

The Blueprint builds on the school finance system established by the Bridge to Excellence Act of 2002 by maintaining a foundation amount of state education aid, adjusted based on the wealth of the local jurisdiction, and the additional “weighted” amounts of funding provided for economically disadvantaged, English learner, and special education students. The Blueprint also adopts a separate program to provide additional funding and programmatic and staffing requirements for schools with high concentrations of poverty. In addition, the law adopts new school finance practices and reporting requirements and integrates accountability for funding and student performance under new comprehensive implementation plans.

How does the Blueprint address educational equity?

The Blueprint reflects the overarching “paramount priority” for the Kirwan Commission to address the issue of equity in Maryland. The Commission engaged Dr. Ivory A. Toldson, professor at Howard University and head of the Quality Education for Minorities Foundation, to serve as a consultant to provide an equity analysis of the Commission’s recommendations (Observations and Recommendations to the Kirwan Commission, Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., Dec. 3, 2018). According to its final report, the Commission adopted all 17 of Dr. Toldson’s recommendations (Kirwan Commission, Final Report, Jan. 2020). The Commission’s “final policy and resource recommendations were driven by the belief that all students, regardless of family income, race, ethnicity, language spoken, disabilities, or other needs, must have the resources they need for success” (Kirwan Commission, Final Report, Jan. 2020; Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 1-303(6)).

In this context, the comprehensive set of reforms recommended by the Kirwan Commission and contained in the Blueprint legislation are designed to enhance educational equity. The law does so by expanding access for all low-income families to full-day prekindergarten, expanding student and family access to wraparound services coordinated by community schools personnel, expanding access to teaching and learning aligned with college and career readiness for all students with additional services required for struggling learners, and creating a new accountability system that requires school systems to achieve both equitable student performance outcomes and administer an equitable school-based finance system.

All of these issues are to be addressed in the State and local comprehensive implementation plans.  Local plans must implement each element of the Blueprint including how to close student achievement gaps listed under § 5–408(a)(2)(i) of the Education Article, and “avoid the disproportionate placement of students with particular racial, ethnic, linguistic, economic, or disability status characteristics with novice teachers or teachers providing instruction in fields in which they lack expertise” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-404).

The law establishes the goal that “each student … shall have equitable access to college and career readiness and shall meet the CCR standard at an equal rate” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 7-205.1). The law states that the Accountability and Implementation Board “shall strive to provide equal access to a high-quality education with equitable outcomes for each Maryland student …” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-402); and provides that the training program for board of education members and school principals must include “an overview of ethical leadership directly tied to the school leaders’ responsibility to drive equitable learning in their schools” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-124).

In addition, the law states that “each county board shall strive to place NBC [National Board Certified] teachers in schools throughout the county and in a manner that supports equity and prioritizes low performing schools” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-1002).

How does the Blueprint determine and provide per pupil funding?

The Blueprint utilizes the revised enrollment counts and increased foundation amount of per pupil funding in conjunction with additional amounts of per pupil funding for students under the categories of special education, English Learners, and economically disadvantaged. The law defines the annual target per pupil foundation amounts (PPFAs) of state education funding to be provided each year from FY 2023 through the full implementation of the Blueprint in FY 2033, after which the PPFA will increase annually by inflation.

Specifically, the target PPFA includes costs associated with implementing the Blueprint including: (1) increasing salaries; (2) additional teachers to provide professional learning and collaborative time for teachers; (3) career counseling; (4) behavioral health; (5) instructional opportunities for students who are college and career ready and those who are not; (6) maintenance and operation of schools; and (7) supplies and materials for teachers.

In addition, the Blueprint law significantly enhances the adequacy and equity of the school finance system by creating the new concentration of poverty funding program, including additional per pupil funding and grants for school-based personnel.

How is enrollment calculated under the Blueprint?

The Blueprint law includes a major change in the calculation of student enrollment for funding purposes by altering the foundation formula grant so that the count of students to be funded is the greater of (1) the prior year full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment, and (2) the three-year moving average of FTE enrollment.

The Blueprint “revisions” bill passed in 2021 further amends the definition of enrollment by altering the “3-year moving average enrollment” to exclude the full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment count for the 2020-2021 school year from calculations used for determining the enrollment count. A similar adjustment was made for purposes of determining the annual per pupil Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirement that must be met by local governments.

Is educational technology funded through the per pupil funding formula?

Yes. The Blueprint “revisions” bill include several provisions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the addition of technology funding to the foundation amount of per pupil State funding (HB 1372, Ch. 55, 2021 Laws of Maryland). According to the bill’s fiscal note:

The target per pupil foundation amount (PPFA) under the State foundation program is increased, beginning in fiscal 2025, to cover specified educational technology costs. The additional funds are intended to supplement, not supplant, existing funding provided for educational technology. In using these additional funds, local boards of education must prioritize the purchase of digital devices. Local boards must also report annually regarding spending and certain uses of specified technology; MSDE must annually compile these reports and submit the compilation to the General Assembly. The increase is phased-in from fiscal 2025 to 2027, after which these and other costs under the PPFA are increased annually by inflation.

What is meant by concentration of poverty?

The law defines concentration of poverty for the purpose of identifying eligible community schools based on the enrollment count of students eligible for compensatory education funding. Compensatory education is based on the number of students eligible for free and reduced price meals. In addition, a separate methodology is used for school systems participating in the federal community eligibility program. Initially, schools having 80% or more of their students eligible for compensatory education funding meet the concentration of poverty threshold for the community schools program. This threshold is reduced to 55% through 2026.

What is meant by a community school?

The Blueprint law significantly expands the scope of the existing community schools program. In 2019, both the Kirwan Commission legislation and a separate bill defined and provided funding for community schools. The preliminary Blueprint law passed in 2019 defined a community school as “a public school that establishes a set of strategic partnerships between the school and other community resources that promote student achievement, positive learning conditions, and the well–being of students by providing wraparound services” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-203).

A separate bill also passed to further define and specify the purposes of community schools (Senate Bill 661, Ch. 300, 2019 Laws of Maryland; adding Title 9.9 “Community Schools” to the Education Article). This bill provided that each community school must have “a dedicated staff member to coordinate support programs that address out-of-school learning barriers for students and families that may include: tutoring, English language learners courses, early childhood development and parenting classes, college and career advising, employment opportunities, citizenship education, food pantries, and school-based mental and physical health services” (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. §§ 9.9-101 through 9.9-107).

What is meant by wraparound services?

The Blueprint law defines “wraparound services” as including:

  • Extended learning time, including before and after school, weekends, summer school, and an extended school year;
  • Safe transportation to school;
  • Vision and dental care services;
  • Establishing or expanding school–based health center services;
  • Additional social workers, mentors, counselors, psychologists, and restorative practice coaches;
  • Enhancing physical wellness, including providing healthy food for in–school and out-of-school time and linkages to community providers;
  • Enhancing behavioral health services, including access to mental health practitioners and providing professional development to school staff to provide trauma–informed interventions;
  • Providing family and community engagement and supports, including informing parents of academic course offerings, language classes, workforce development training, opportunities for children, and available social services as well as educating families on how to monitor a child’s learning;
  • Establishing and enhancing linkages to Judy Centers and other early education programs that feed into the school;
  • Enhancing student enrichment experiences;
  • Improving student attendance;
  • Improving the learning environment at the school; and
  • Any other professional development for teachers and school staff to quickly identify students who are in need of these resources.

What is transitional supplemental instruction?

The Blueprint mandates that specific transitional education services be provided at the school level to struggling learners, and provides significant per pupil funding to support this program. Transitional supplemental instruction includes: one-on-one and small-group tutoring of not more than four students with a certified teacher, a teaching assistant, or any other trained professional; cross-age peer tutoring; and screening, identifying, and addressing literacy deficits. (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-226).

How does the Blueprint define struggling learners?

The Blueprint law defines a struggling learner as a kindergarten through grade 3 student who, on the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) or on any successor assessment, in the prior fiscal year, scores the equivalent of a 1, 2, or 3 in English language arts or reading. The number of grade 3 struggling learners is to be used as a proxy for the number of struggling learners in each of kindergarten, grade 1, and grade 2 (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-226).

What is meant by school-based funding?

According to the Kirwan Commission, “In order to transform Maryland’s education system into a world-class system, the recommendations of the Commission must be implemented with fidelity, through a strong system of accountability where the vast majority of money follows the student to the school, and new funds must be spent effectively to improve student outcomes.”

This recommendation is codified in the Blueprint law under Section 5-234 which requires school systems to distribute to schools at least 75% of the per pupil funding provided under the foundation and other categorical programs (FRPM, EL, CTE. School systems must begin reporting to MSDE and the AIB on compliance with this “money follows the child” system beginning on July 1, 2024, for the FY 2025 budget, and each July 1 thereafter.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) already mandates reporting of per pupil, school-based, funding and teacher qualification data, and the Blueprint law references this reporting requirement in the years prior to the new accountability reports.


Governance & Accountability

The Commission’s final report under Policy Area 5: Governance and Accountability recommended the following:

  • Develop a comprehensive implementation plan for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and hold all State and local agencies involved accountable for carrying out their assigned roles;
  • Monitor and report annually on the status of implementation in schools, districts and agencies across the State, including collecting, analyzing, and reporting disaggregated data on student performance, teacher preparation, and the use of funds to improve outcomes under the Blueprint;
  • Evaluate the outcomes achieved during the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future against the goals of the Blueprint and the Commission, particularly in closing achievement gaps, and annually reporting on whether any changes should be made to ensure adequate resources and measurements for full implementation;
  • Ensure that the newly created Expert Review Teams administered by MSDE and the new CTE Committee that will conduct school visits understand the degree to which the strategies used by the top performers are being used and make recommendations for improving implementation;
  • Have the authority to place some new funds for a school or school district in escrow should that school or district not successfully implement the Commission’s recommendations or fail to show satisfactory progress in student achievement; and
  • Contract for an independent evaluation of implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, assess the State’s progress in implementation, and make any recommendations for changes needed to fully implement the Blueprint.

How does the Blueprint law implement the the Commission recommendations regarding governance and accountability?

The Blueprint law adopts the Commission’s recommendation to establish an independent body responsible for planning, overseeing implementation, and leveraging the withholding of state funding in order to achieve the long-term goals of the Blueprint.

What is the Accountability and Implementation Board?

The Blueprint law creates the Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) as the independent board recommended by the Kirwan Commission to have the authority to ensure that the Commission’s recommendations are successfully implemented and produce the desired results. The AIB is a seven-member board appointed by the Governor from candidates nominated by a nominating committee comprised of members selected by the Governor, Speaker of the House, and President of the Senate. AIB members are appointed to staggered 6-year terms.

What is the scope of authority of the Accountability and Implementation Board?

This AIB has the following roles and responsibilities:

  • Develop a comprehensive implementation plan for the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and hold all State and local agencies involved accountable for carrying out their assigned roles;
  • Monitor and report annually on the status of implementation in schools, districts and agencies across the State, including collecting, analyzing, and reporting disaggregated data on student performance, teacher preparation, and the use of funds to improve outcomes under the Blueprint;
  • Evaluate the outcomes achieved during the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future against the goals of the Blueprint and the Commission, particularly in closing achievement gaps, and annually reporting on whether any changes should be made to ensure adequate resources and measurements for full implementation;
  • Ensure that the newly created Expert Review Teams administered by MSDE and the new CTE Committee that will conduct school visits understand the degree to which the strategies used by the top performers are being used and make recommendations for improving implementation;
  • Have the authority to place some new funds for a school or school district in escrow should that school or district not successfully implement the Commission’s recommendations or fail to show satisfactory progress in student achievement; and
  • Contract for an independent evaluation of implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, assess the State’s progress in implementation, and make any recommendations for changes needed to fully implement the Blueprint.

In addition, the AIB has the authority to promulgate regulations as an independent unit of state government. Therefore, regulations would be located in COMAR Title 14. Independent State Agencies.

What is the Comprehensive Implementation Plan?

The AIB must develop a comprehensive implementation plan to implement the Blueprint. The scope of the plan is very broad, in that it must include the intended outcomes that the Blueprint will achieve. It must also include a timeline for implementation of the Blueprint with key milestones to be achieved by each state or local government unit required to implement an element of the Blueprint for each year of the implementation period.

The AIB must adopt its plan by no later than February 15, 2022. Any changes to the plan must be adopted by the AIB no later than August 1 of each year. The AIB must adopt guidelines for entities required to submit and carry out implementation plans, including a maximum page length, including appendices, for implementation plans.

What are the elements of local school system comprehensive implementation plans?

Local school systems must develop Blueprint implementation plans to implement each element of the Blueprint. The law more specifically requires local plans to show how the school system will achieve the following:

  • Adapt curriculum, instruction, and the organization of the school day to enable more students to achieve college and career readiness by the end of 10th grade, to provide students with needed services including community-partnered behavioral health services if appropriate, and to identify students who are falling behind and develop a plan to get them back on track;
  • Close student achievement gaps listed under § 5-408 of the Education Article within the local system (race, ethnicity, disability status, household income, linguistic status, and any other student group characteristics that feature achievement gaps as determined by the AIB;
  • Avoid the disproportionate placement of students with particular racial, ethnic, linguistic, economic, or disability status characteristics with novice teachers or teachers providing instruction in fields in which they lack expertise; and
  • Use additional funds for teacher collaborative time prioritized based on availability of a sufficient number of high quality teachers.

What is the Expert Review Teams Program?

The Blueprint law establishes the Expert Review Team Program, to be established and administered by MSDE, in order to have teams of expert educators:

  • Conduct interviews, observe classes, and use other data to analyze the extent to which the Blueprint is being implemented; and
  • Collaborate with school-based faculty and staff and local school system staff to: (i) determine reasons why student progress is insufficient; and (ii) develop recommendations, measures, and strategies to address the issues identified by the expert review team (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-411).

What is the authority of the Expert Review Teams?

During the period from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2025, the report and recommendations of an expert review team shall be advisory only and may be used by a school and local school system to strengthen the school program and the management of the school and local school system.

Beginning on July 1, 2025, the report and recommendations of an expert review team shall be used by MSDE as the basis for a recommendation to the AIB as to whether to release a portion of the annual increase in funding for the upcoming school year.

In addition, beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, MSDE will send an expert review team to a school or a group of schools in which students continue to demonstrate learning loss that began in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic for the purpose of determining the reason that the learning loss continues.

Under what conditions may the Accountability and Implementation Board withhold state funding?

Begging in FY 2023, the AIB is required to withhold 25% of the increase in the State share of major education aid over the amount provided in the current fiscal year. Beginning in FY 2023 and ending in FY 2025, the AIB must release funds withheld if the AIB finds that a local school system or public school has developed an initial implementation plan and received approval for its plan and for any subsequent modifications (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-405). Beginning in FY 2026, the AIB is required, merely, to consider releasing withheld funds if it determines that a public school or local school system has made sufficient progress on an implementation plan or taken appropriate steps to improve student performance. The AIB may also consider recommendations to release funds from MSDE, the CTE Committee, or an expert review team.

The AIB may withhold more than 25% of the increase in the state share of major education aid over the amount provided in the current fiscal year from a public school or local school system, if, in the judgment of the AIB: (1) a local school system has not made satisfactory efforts to develop or revise its Blueprint implementation plan; (2) a public school or local school system has not made sufficient progress on its implementation plan; or (3) a public school or local school system has not taken appropriate steps to improve student performance.

If the AIB determines that a public school or local school system has made progress in some areas but not in others, the AIB may determine that a portion of the funds may be released while a portion may be withheld. Also, the AIB may determine it is necessary to release or withhold funds for the current fiscal year.

May a school system appeal Accountability Board decisions to withhold funding?

Yes. The AIB must develop an appeals process through which a local school system may contest the withholding of funds (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-405).

What is the role of the local Blueprint implementation coordinator?

The Blueprint law provides only the following: For FY 2022 through 2026, the governing body of a county and the local school system jointly shall appoint a single implementation coordinator responsible for the implementation of the Blueprint by all government units operating in the county (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 5-404).

Does the Blueprint mandate professional development for superintendents and members of boards of education?

Yes. Under Section 6-124 of the Education Article, MSDE and the AIB must develop a leadership development training program for board of education members and school  principals that must include:

(1) A method for organizing schools to achieve high performance, including:

(i) Building instructional leadership teams;

(ii) Implementing career ladders for teachers;

(iii) Overseeing teacher induction and mentoring systems; and

(iv) Identifying, recruiting, and retaining high-quality school leaders;

(2) A model for strategic thinking that will assist school leaders drive in driving redesign efforts in their schools;

(3) Training to provide a deep understanding of standards-aligned instructional systems;

(4) Training to provide a working knowledge of the research on how students learn and the implications of this research for instructional redesign, curriculum, and professional learning;

(5) A research-based model for instructional coaching;

(6) An overview of ethical leadership directly tied to the school leaders’ responsibility to drive equitable learning in their schools; and

(7) Lessons in transformational leadership.

Separately, MSDE and the AIB must provide superintendents and “senior, instruction-related staff” with a training program including: (1) a review of education in the united states relative to countries with top performing education systems and the implications of high performance for students, the economic security of the united  states, and quality of life; (2) a model for strategic thinking that will assist education leaders to transform districts under their leadership; (3) training to provide a working knowledge of research on how students learn and the implications for instructional redesign, curriculum plans, and professional learning; (4) a research-based model for coaching school leaders; and (5) lessons in transformational leadership (Md. Code Ann., Ed. Art. § 6-124).

 


Building the Blueprint: Background on the Kirwan Commission (Archives)

The following section provides extensive historical background on the development of the Kirwan Commission recommendations and MABE's advocacy positions. This section has not been updated, but reflects MABE's real-time advocacy work and status updates in recent years.


The Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education was a multi-year initiative to research and develop major funding and policy reforms to improve the quality of Maryland’s public education system to benefit each of the nearly 1 million students, which will in turn benefit the State’s economy and quality of life for all Marylanders.

MABE Presentation: What's the Kirwan Commission and the Blueprint for Maryland's Future All About  (Oct. 10, 2019)

Key components of the Kirwan Commission’s work included:

• The APA Funding Adequacy Study: Expert analysis of what Maryland’s educators and experts have determined needed to improve our schools.
• The National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) Framework: What experts recommend as the building blocks for creating an innovative and globally competitive education system.
• The passage of Question 1 on the 2018 statewide ballot amend the State Constitution to shift more than $500 million in casino revenues to actually increase school funding above present levels. Senate Bill 1122 (2018) called for the referendum. (Increased funding = $125 million in 2019-2020, $250 million in 2020-2021, $375 million in 2021-2022, and at least $500 million in 2022-2023)
• The Kirwan Commission’s Interim Report: Issued in January of 2019, based on the NCEE framework, and building on the Adequacy Study through the continuing assistance of APA.
• The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future: Senate Bill 1030 is the legislation enacted in 2019 to launch three-years of increased funding for PreK, special education, teachers’ pay, and other programs. ($255 million in 2019-2020, $355 million in 2020-2021, and at least $370 million in 2021-2022)
• The Funding Formula Workgroup: Meeting in the summer and fall of 2019 to develop final recommendations for the full Commission to receive in November to incorporate into final legislative recommendations.

The 2020 legislative session saw the successful of the passage of the full Kirwan Commission bill, the Blueprint for Maryland's Future Act (House Bill 1300), including the 10-year phase-in of NCEE's policy framework and the state and local cost shares of the overall funding increases. Another key component of this work was envisioned as including legislation identifying sources of State revenue to meet the State’s funding obligations to implement the Blueprint. Such bills did pass, albeit with amendments reflecting the immediate need to respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

 


2020 Legislative Session Actions 

On Tuesday, March 17th, 2020, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future was passed amid the mad dash to the pandemic Sine Die finish line.

With this monumental legislation on its way to the Governor’s desk, and the Federal and State governments looking to repair the impending disruption to the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are serious questions regarding the potential shift in the plan to fund this costly initiative. This bill, beginning in FY 2022, substantially alters State aid and State policy for public schools known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. Also, it establishes in law the policies and accountability recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, including the creation of a new Accountability and Implementation Board to oversee implementation of the policies and funding provided under the Blueprint. Funding for existing education formulas, including the foundation program and targeted programs, is altered, and new funding formulas are established for specific purposes, such as the concentration of poverty grant program and publicly funded full-day prekindergarten program. The bill also repeals and alters other grants and programs. Local government school funding requirements are also altered. The bill takes effect July 1, 2020.

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (House Bill 1300) was introduced on Friday, February 7, and on Monday February 17, Presidents Day, the General Assembly held a joint hearing of House and Senate committees responsible for deliberating on the bill. House Bill 1300 was considered through a work group comprised of the Education Subcommittees of the Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees. These subcommittees, and the respective full committees then voted on the bill as amended with more than 60 amendments. Several of the House amendments were in response to MABE’s extensive list of more than 60 requested amendments.  Importantly, the House also adopted the bill, as expected, to significantly address and reduce the burden of increased local funding shares for several jurisdictions, including Baltimore City, Prince George’s County, as well as many rural counties.

On March 10th and 11th the Senate’s Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs (EHEA) Committee read through more than 50 amendments from the committee’s chairman, Senator Paul Pinsky, and the following evening adopted those along with several offered by committee members. This voting session in EHEA went late and at the same time the Budget and Taxation (B&T) Committee was reviewing the bill, considering several fiscally oriented amendments, and awaiting the Education Committee’s final action. By 11:00 p.m. the B&T Committee had approved the bill as amended. The Senate’s final version differs markedly from the bill passed in the House. First, the Senate continued the process of adopting amendments requested by stakeholders such as MABE and PSSAM and MSEA. Secondly, the Senate committees adopted two significant amendments not contemplated in the House.

MABE Summary/Outline

MABE Testimony & Leadership Panel Remarks

MABE Requested Amendments

Fiscal & Policy Note


Return on Investment Study 

The return on investment (ROI) report commissioned by Strong Schools Maryland finds that Maryland’s economy will benefit from the profits and growth that would occur as a result of expanded opportunities in vocational and technical training and universal Pre-K, among other factors. The report was released on Dec. 3, 2019.


Business Leaders' Support

Read the letter sent on December 11, 2019 by more than 30 Maryland business leaders to Governor Hogan and legislative leaders in strong support of passing legislation in 2020 to enact the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission.

Business Executives - We Must Implement the Kirwan Commission Recommendations
"We are business leaders whose lives have been committed to building the economy and providing jobs for Marylanders. Maryland employers and employees must compete with companies across the United States and across the world. To succeed in an ever increasingly competitive global economy, our state must have a world-class education system. Sadly, we don’t have that now. Significant and immediate changes in our present system are needed or Maryland will slip and all Marylanders will pay a steep and avoidable price."

"We have reviewed the recent recommendations for systemic educational reform put forward by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (the Kirwan Commission). We strongly support the Commission’s recommendations."


2019 Legislative Session Actions

"The 2019 Preliminary Blueprint for Maryland's Future" - Senate Bill 1030

This landmark legislation was enacted earlier this year to establish "The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future" as State education policy, based on the recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (known as the Kirwan Commission in recognition of commission chair, Dr. William ‘Brit’ Kirwan). The bill provides significant funding increases for several programs and establishes the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund. The bill provides funding in FY 2020 per the Governor’s discretion; and mandates that additional funding be included in the Governor’s budgets for FY 2021 and FY 2022.

During session, MABE leadership provided testimony in support of the legislation at the initial bill hearings.  Julie Hummer, MABE's Legislative Committee Chair, outlined the key provision's of the legislation and MABE's support the proposed increases in funding for prekindergarten, special education, programs for students living in areas of concentrated poverty, and state support for teacher salary increases.  Other organizations testifying in support included the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland, the Maryland State Education Association, Strong Schools Maryland, Maryland PTA, Advocates for Children and Youth, ACLU Maryland, and the Maryland Association of Counties.

The bill was crafted to incentivize passage and full funding by making the creation of the office of inspector general contingent on the release of the $200 million in 2018 income tax funds already residing in the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education Fund (renamed the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund). In addition, the bill stipulates that any funds restricted for purposes of the bill in the FY 2020 budget not transferred or released by the Governor must be distributed in FY 2021, in addition to other funds required to be distributed by the bill in FY 2021.

On May 15, 2019 Governor Hogan announced and provided a letter to legislative leaders explaining his decision to release the funding for FY 2020 and to allow the Kirwan bill to become law.

The bill takes effect June 1, 2019. For more detailed information, see the 90 Day Report.

  • Funding - The bill distributes $255 million in FY 2020 (at the Governor’s discretion) consistent with the funding priorities identified by the Commission and mandates a total of $355 million in FY 2021 to begin to implement the recommendations. The bill also mandates that $370 million be distributed to The Blueprint Fund in FY 2022, as well as an additional $130 million contingent on revenue made available as a result of legislation enacted in the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions to implement the Commission’s recommendations. Note: $134.5 million of the $255 million budgeted in FY 2020 was contingent on the Governor releasing this amount from the $200 million in income tax revenues set aside last year.

 

  • Teacher Salary Incentive Grant Program - This program, administered by MSDE, provides grants to county boards to increase teacher salaries to improve recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers. In each of FY 2020 and FY 2021, the State must provide a grant to a local board in the amount specified in the law if the local board provides a negotiated and funded average “salary increase” for teachers of at least 3.0% in FY 2020. “Salary increase” may include salary increases for cost–of–living adjustments, increments, step increases, interval movements, pathway movements, or similar salary increases received by employees as a regular part of the operation of a personnel system or negotiated schedule between a public school employer and exclusive representative for an employee organization. “Salary increase” is further defined as “the average percent increase in the salaries for teachers in the county over the prior fiscal year that does not include one–time stipends or payments, promotions, retirement benefits, or other benefits.” A significant amendment was adopted to define “Teacher” as “a certificated public school employee who: (i) is not an administrator; and (ii) as of April 1, 2019, is part of a collective bargaining unit that includes classroom teachers.”
  • Mental Health Services Coordinator - For both FY 2020 and 2021, $83,333 is provided to each local school system to fund the mental health services coordinator that each local school system must appoint pursuant to the Safe to Learn Act of 2018.
  • Concentration of Poverty Grants - This program provides grants to public schools in which at least 80% of the students were eligible for free and reduced-price meals (FRPM), in accordance with standards for community schools, wrap-around services, and the positions of community school coordinator and full-time professional health care practitioner. For both FY 2020 and 2021, the State must distribute a grant to each local school board equal to $248,833 for each eligible school, to be distributed to each eligible school. The FY 2020 $54.6 million estimate for concentration of poverty grants is based on 2017-2018 school year data indicating that 219 schools (mostly in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County). For FY 2021, additional schools are eligible for the grant based on the 2018-2019 school year data.
  • Special Education Grants - In both FY 2020 and 2021, an additional $65.5 million is provided for the education of students with disabilities, with specified allocations to each local school system. The bill provides that if any of this funding is “not needed to fully implement individualized education programs (IEPs) and 504 plans for students with disabilities” each local board of education must use the remaining funding to implement other recommendations made in the Kirwan Commission’s January 2019 Interim Report.
  • Transitional Supplemental Instruction for Struggling Learners Grants - For each of FY 2020 and 2021, the State must distribute to local boards funds totaling $23 million, as allocated by the bill, for the provision of TSI for struggling learners, including  additional academic supports using evidence-based programs as defined in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). TSI includes one-on-one and small-group tutoring with a certified teacher, a teaching assistant, or any other trained professional; cross-age peer tutoring; and screening, identifying, and addressing literacy deficits. Struggling learners are students who perform below grade level in English/language arts or reading in kindergarten through grade 3.
  • Teacher Collaborative Grant Program - MSDE, in consultation with the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), to award grants totaling $2.5 million in each of FY 2020 and 2021, to teacher collaboratives to develop model, state-of-the-art, professional development programs for prospective and current teachers. A collaborative must constitute a partnership of at least one local board, one teacher preparation program, and one exclusive employee representative.
  • Maryland Office of the Inspector General for Education - The bill establishes the office as an independent unit of the State and establishes the Inspector General (I.G.) position within the office. The bill specifies the qualifications and experience that the I.G. must have, provides for the appointment of the I.G. to five-year terms, and specifies conditions for removal of an I.G. The I.G. is responsible for examining local boards of education, local school systems, and public schools; nonpublic schools that receive State funds; MSDE; and the Interagency Commission on School Construction. The I.G. may investigate complaints concerning: fraud, waste, and abuse involving the use of public funds; violations of the civil rights of students and employees; whether policies and procedures governing the prevention and reporting of child abuse and neglect comply with federal and State law; and compliance with other federal and State law.  This was a contentious issue during session, including the legislature rejecting the Governor’s bill to create such an office, a March 14, 2019 letter from the Governor insisting that greater accountability measures be included in the Kirwan bill, and the legislature’s subsequent decision to amend the bill to do so. Similarly, Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management David Brinkley’s March 14, 2019 letter to legislative leaders urged fiscal restraint in adopting increases in mandated funding. The amounts of mandated funding in FY 2021 and 2022, as enacted, are much less than initially passed by the House at the time of Secretary Brinkley’s letter.

The 2019 Kirwan bill is a major accomplishment, representing a $1.1 billion funding initiative spanning 3 years, and yet is only the first step toward adopting more comprehensive educational program reforms and a 10-year state and local funding implementation plan. Therefore, following the 2019 session, the Commission's work is being complimented by a "Blueprint for Maryland's Future Funding Formula Workgroup."

In addition, the full Commission will reconvene in October of 2019 to finalize the long-range policy and funding recommendations to be included in 2020 legislation.

Full Commission Meeting Calendar (Updated 9/3/19)


Funding Formula Workgroup

On June 4, 2019 Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones announced membership of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Funding Formula Workgroup. Today’s announcement is a result of a request from the presiding officers to the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education that a special workgroup determine funding formula decisions before the 2020 legislative session.

The Funding Workgroup will:

  • Make recommendations for the distribution of funds recommended by programmatic area included for recommendation of the Kirwan Commission policy report by the LEA and State/local cost share;
  • Prioritize order of funding for programmatic recommendation of the Kirwan Commission policy report; and
  • Make recommendations for specific funding formulas for ongoing costs within each Kirwan Commission policy recommendation.

Funding Formula Workgroup Meeting Calendar (Updated 9/3/19)

The Workgroup held it's first meeting on June 20, 2019.
Highlight: Presentation on "Building the PreK-12 Funding Formulas"
Meetings were also held on July 24, August 1, and August 22.
All Workgroup agendas, videos and meeting materials are available on the Kirwan Commission's homepage.

MABE Takes Positions on Key Funding Workgroup Issues

In MABE's letter of August 26, 2019, MABE President Tolbert Rowe wrote to Dr. Brit Kirwan, who also chairs the Funding Formula Workgroup, to highlight MABE's positions on several major funding policy issues. Highlights of the letter include the following statements:

  • MABE is confident that through incremental implementation of funding recommendations developed by the Workgroup and Commission, on a timeline not to exceed 10 years, Maryland can renew its commitment to fulfilling its constitutional mandate to fully fund and support the equitable access for all students to an excellent education in all twenty-four school systems.
  • MABE strongly supports a Workgroup recommendation to phase-in a new requirement for local governments to pay a local share of per pupil funding for economically disadvantaged students, students receiving special education services, and students learning English.
  • Equity, in funding and educational policies and programs, is a top priority for MABE and the local boards we represent. For MABE, educational equity means providing access to essential academic, social, emotional, and economic supports in order to engage each student in rigorous instruction with appropriate educational resources to achieve their highest potential.  Funding equity is necessary to support educational equity, and clear and formal requirements for local investments in all students are needed to ensure that both of these equity outcomes are achieved.
  • MABE recognizes the need to determine whether to include prekindergarten students in the full-time equivalent (FTE) count with all other students, or to count them separately. MABE supports the proposal to count prekindergarten students separately, at least through the implementation phase. However, MABE also supports defining prekindergarten students as enrolled students for purposes of triggering the mandatory local share of the foundation amount on a per pupil basis.
  • MABE urges the Workgroup to recommend adjustments in the relative role of property and income wealth to address longstanding concerns. Several jurisdictions are disproportionately negatively affected by the overwhelming role that property values play in determining their local wealth, and therefore their diminished allocations of state aid for education.
  • MABE supports comprehensive recommendations to enhance our school finance system by increasing the foundation amount of funding for all students, sustaining and increasing the additional “weighted” per pupil funding for our students learning English, students living in poverty, and significantly increasing the weighted funding amount for students receiving special education services. In addition, MABE strongly supports adopting a per pupil funding approach for both the state and counties to support current, and expanded, prekindergarten programs.

All Workgroup meeting agendas and materials, and videos of proceedings, are available on the Commission's website. Meetings are being held in the House Appropriations Committee, Room 120, House Office Building, 6 Bladen St., Annapolis.

 

Funding Formula Workgroup Members
 Dr. William (Brit) Kirwan (Chair of the Comm. on Innovation and Excellence)
 Senator Bill Ferguson (Vice-Chair, Budget & Taxation Cmt.)
 Delegate Maggie McIntosh (Chair, Appropriations Cmt.)
 David Brinkley (Sec. of the Dept. of Budget and Management)
 Joan Carter Conway(Former Senator)
 Monique Davis  (Asst. Supt., Anne Arundel Co. Schools)
 Eloise Foster (Former Sec. of the Dept. of Budget and Management)
 Matt Gallagher (Former Governor's Chief of Staff/Goldseker Foundation)
 Barry Glassman (Harford Co. Exec.)
 Sean Johnson (MSEA)
 Richard Madaleno (Montgomery Co. CEO)
 Cheryl Pasteur  (Baltimore Co. Board of Education)
 Alvin Thornton (Prince George's Co. Board of Education)

 


The Kirwan Commission's Interim Report and Long-Range Plan



On February 14th, 2019 the Kirwan Commission released its 2019 Interim Report.

The Report is a call to action for the building of a world class education system in Maryland, and includes recommendations in five major policy areas.

1. Investing in High-quality Early Childhood Education and Care: Significant expansion of full-day pre-school, to be free for all low-income three- and four-year-olds, so that all children have the opportunity to begin kindergarten ready to learn;

2. Elevating Teachers and School Leaders: Raising the standards and status of the teaching profession, including a performance-based career ladder and salaries comparable to other fields with similar education requirements;

3. Creating a World-class Instructional System: An internationally benchmarked curriculum that enables most students to achieve “college- and career-ready” status by the end of tenth grade and then pursue pathways that include early college, Advanced Placement courses, and/or a rigorous technical education leading to industry-recognized credentials and high-paying jobs;

4. Providing More Support to Students Who Need It the Most: Broad and sustained new support for schools serving high concentrations of students living in poverty, with before-and after-school and summer academic programs and student access to needed health and social services, and increased support for English learner and special education students; and

5. Ensuring Excellence for All: An accountability-oversight board that has the authority to ensure that the Commission’s recommendations are successfully implemented and produce the desired results.

MABE submitted a 2-page statement to the Commission emphasizing the association’s strong support for the recommendations overall, but strong opposition to key recommendations in the governance and accountability section of the Report.

“MABE has participated fully in the Commission’s work and supports its focus on significantly increasing the State’s investment in a high performing, innovative statewide system of public schools. MABE supports advancing the goal of improving Maryland schools to ensure our students are equally as prepared as students educated in the world’s highest performing school systems. MABE strongly supports the Commission’s recommendations requiring equitable access to an excellent education for all students in all twenty-four school systems. However, MABE objects to specific recommendations regarding the governance, authority and accountability of local school systems, found in both the Governance and Accountability and the College and Career Ready Pathways policy areas.”

“MABE strongly opposes the adoption of the recommendation for a new governance and compliance body to oversee implementation of the Commission’s recommendations and subsequent legislation. Such an independent oversight body is neither necessary nor appropriate to coordinate, monitor, and evaluate implementation of the Commission’s recommendations as these functions are already are within the purview of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the State Board.”

Funding Sources in 2019 (for FY 2020 and Beyond)

There were two significant funding sources to launch Kirwan in the FY 2020 budget and beyond. A $200 million Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education Fund was created last year, and was fully available. In addition, $125 million in casino revenues became available for FY 2020, thanks to the overwhelming passage of Question 1 on the 2018 ballot to convert the entire Education Trust Fund (ETF) to new, increased funding to support Kirwan Commission initiatives. The ETF, as a source of guaranteed increased funding for education, will grow from $125 million in FY 2010, to $250 million in FY 2021, to $375 million in FY 2022, and to over $500 million in FY 2023.

However, Governor Hogan’s proposed State Budget did not allocate any of the $200 million Kirwan fund toward FY 2020 spending, and would have invested only $24 million of the $125 million in ETF funds in Kirwan recommended areas. Instead, $45 million would have been used to launch a new school construction program administered by the Maryland Stadium Authority, a program also intended to receive $125 million per year in ETF money beginning next year.


2018 Highlights


The Kirwan Commission's December 2018 Work - Including "Costing Out Reports" on Major Policy Areas

The Commission is poised to issue a final report featuring major policy and funding recommendations centered on five major policy areas. Final drafts of Working Group & Commission recommendations and Costing Out Reports (Updated as of Dec. 6, 2018):


MABE Testified Before the Kirwan Commission 

On November 29, 2018, MABE President Tolbert Rowe and several other members of MABE’s Board of Directors provided testimony and remarks before the Kirwan Commission. President Rowe’s remarks highlighted MABE’s positions on each of the five major policy areas and was accompanied by 8 pages of written testimony.

MABE Legislative Committee Chair Julie Hummer provided testimony focused on the need for increased state funding for high quality early education opportunities for 3 and 4 year old students, and Michael Garman, chair of MABE’s Resolution’s Committee, delivered remarks on MABE’s support for local board governance and the continued oversight role of the State Board and MSDE as opposed to a new oversight body. In addition, Tracy McGuire, President of the Calvert County Board of Education, testified in support of local board decision-making in allocating resources to best serve students and regarding employee contract negotiations.

2018 Ballot Question 1 Passed - Changing the Role of Casino Revenues

Question 1 was added to the ballot following the General Assembly’s passage of the Fix the Fund Act, Senate Bill 1122, during the 2018 legislative session. Read MABE's testimony in support of the Fix the Fund Act, Senate Bill 1122 (, which passed in 2018 to mandate and include the precise language of the ballot question. ) called for the referendum. Senate Bill 1122, during the 2018 legislative session.

Casino revenues have not led to major increases in school funding as many Marylanders expected. While casino revenues went into the Education Trust Fund—which can only be used for funding public education—nearly the same amount of existing funding was shifted from education to other parts of the state budget. The result has been that the new revenue from casinos didn’t add to existing funding; instead, it has largely maintained the existing levels. Voting yes on Question 1 will keep a promise made to voters that casino revenue would increase school funding.

See "Where the Money Goes" according to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency

What's the Share of Gaming Revenue Going to the Education Trust Fund?

29.6%  - FY 2018

31.8% - FY 2017

35.2% - FY 2016

37.3% - FY 2015

39.4% - FY 2014

46.7% - FY 2013

48.5% - FY 2012

48.5% - FY 2011


2018 Legislative Session

Kirwan Commission Recommended Legislation Passed

Legislation developed by the Kirwan Commission passed in 2018 (House Bill 1415).  This bill extends the deadline for the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education to complete its work by one year. It also establishes or alters several programs and mandates funding for them beginning in FY 2019.

House Bill 1415 and Senate Bill 1092 were introduced to enact several policy initiatives aligned with the work of the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. The House has passed HB 1415 with several amendments, none of which are problematic or alter MABE’s position in support of the bill. A detailed summary is provided in the bill’s fiscal and policy note.

The bill establishes new programs and makes funding recommendations for the following:

• New Teacher Recruitment Program
• K-8 Literacy Grant Program
• Mandated Level Funding for Prekindergarten Grant Programs
• Concentration of Poverty Grants
• Teaching Fellows for Maryland Scholarship Program
• Career and Technical Education Grant Program
• Special Education Study Extension
• Kirwan Commission Extension

Additional information: On February 15, the Kirwan Commission released its Preliminary Report which includes several major policy recommendations of the Commission.

The Kirwan Commission's Preliminary Report Leading into the 2018 Legislation Session

Preliminary Report January 2018

In 2016 the General Assembly passed House Bill 999 and Senate Bill 905 to create the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. This bill was one of MABE’s top legislative priorities. MABE greatly appreciates the lead sponsorship of Delegate Anne Kaiser and Senator Nancy King and the broad support in the General Assembly for the pursuit of continuous improvements in the state’s approach to adequately and equitably funding Maryland’s outstanding public schools. MABE's representative on the Kirwan Commission is MABE's past president Joy Schaefer. In addition, MABE took the initiative to form its own Committee on School Funding Adequacy which in September of 2016 released a report “Priorities and Perspectives on the Future of Public School Funding in Maryland(Executive Summary) to provide background information, in-depth analysis, and an overview of local board perspectives on the funding adequacy study.

On September 29, 2016 the “Kirwan” Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education held its first meeting. Commission Chair, William E. "Brit" Kirwan, opened the meeting by emphasizing the rare opportunity to be on such a commission, and that although the charge is very broad, the task at hand is essentially to make recommendations on how to make our schools better and that we owe it to students to develop a system that is as good as the best in the world.

On September 13, 2017, MABE wrote to the Commission to voice support for meaningful improvements to Maryland’s public school finance system, including substantial funding increases aligned with accountability for successful academic outcomes for all students. MABE Letter (September 13, 2017)

The Commission has received comprehensive presentations on the Funding Adequacy reports produced by APA Consulting and adopted a framework for its work based on the National Center on Education and the Economy's (NCEE) "Nine Building Blocks of a World Class Education System." All Commission meeting agendas and meeting materials are available on the General Assembly's website. The APA Funding Adequacy Report is also available: Executive Summary; Adequacy Study: Final Report (11/30/2016 - Prepared by APA Consulting for MSDE)

Update (as of 12/27/2017)

The Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education began meeting in the fall of 2016 to develop recommendations for updating the state’s education funding formulas. The Thornton Bridge to Excellence formulas were adopted in 2002, and long overdue for updates to not only increase the base per pupil amount for all students but also address funding needs for expanded prekindergarten, career and technical education, special education services, and community schools with wrap-around services.

The Commission was also to review the findings of a comprehensive funding study, conducted by Augenblick, Palaich & Associates (APA) in 2015-2016 at the cost of over $1 million, which recommended significant reforms and increases and in state and local school funding in its Final Report of the Study of Adequacy of Funding for Education in Maryland. MABE played a leading role as a member of the MSDE Stakeholder Group which monitored and provided input to the adequacy studies conducted by consultants Augenblick, Palaich and Associates (APA). The MSDE webpage for the Adequacy Study and Stakeholder Group contains all of the consultants' reports and stakeholder group meeting materials.

The Commission did not proceed to develop legislative recommendations aligned with the final APA study, but instead organized its work around the framework and advice of another consultant, the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). NCEE’s focus is on reforms needed to make Maryland an international leader in high quality public education based on comparisons with Finland, Switzerland, Singapore, Shanghai, Ontario and Massachusetts.

The Kirwan Commission finalized its preliminary recommendations organized under the following 9 Building Blocks of a World-Class State Education System; the framework developed by NCEE.

  1. Provide strong supports for children and their families before students arrive at school
  2. Provide more resources for at-risk students than for others
  3. Develop world-class, highly coherent instructional systems
  4. Create clear gateways for students through the system, set to global standards, with no dead ends
  5. Assure an abundant supply of highly qualified teachers
  6. Redesign schools to be places in which teachers will be treated as professionals, with incentives and support to continuously improve their professional practice and the performance of their students
  7. Create an effective system of career and technical education and training
  8. Create a leadership development system that develops leaders at all levels to manage such systems effectively
  9. Institute a governance system that has the authority and legitimacy to develop coherent, powerful policies and is capable of implementing them at scale

The Commission met on Dec. 20, 2017 to finalize the policy recommendations to be included in its preliminary report. A final report, with specific funding recommendations aligned with the Commission’s policy recommendations (with the costing-out study to be done by APA), is not due until later in 2018.

All of the Kirwan Commission’s draft recommendations are available on the Commission’s webpage. Examples of key recommendations to be included in the preliminary report, organized under each of NCEE's 9 Building Blocks, include:

1. Early Learning: Universal access to public and private provided prekindergarten for all four year olds and low-income three year olds, with private providers held to high standards, and tuition allowed in public and private schools/child care centers on a sliding income scale.

2. Funding: Increase per pupil base and additional per pupil weights for special education, English Learners, and low-income students. Create a new weight for concentration of poverty. Weighted funding should follow at-risk students to their school. Develop funding recommendations following the 2018 legislative session based on a new cost analysis by Augenblick, Palaich and Associates (APA) aligned with the Commission’s final recommendations.

3 and 4. Standards and Pathways: Assess all incoming kindergarteners and create educational plans for each child. Move the grade year by which students are expected to acquire levels of proficiency in mathematics, science, and English literacy needed for success on adopted Maryland assessments (e.g., a score of 4 or 5 on the PARCC assessment) in the first year of community college to the end of 10th grade. Requiring all Maryland high school students who are on track for college and career readiness by the end of 10th grade to be offered rigorous pathways toward college and careers through AP, IB and other college prep programs and CTE programs leading to industry certification. Requiring all Maryland community colleges to enroll students that achieve the 10th grade standard in initial credit-bearing coursework without remediation (with a higher standard for four-year colleges).

5. Teacher Supply: Provide strong financial incentives to students with strong records of academic achievement in high school to choose a career in teaching. Use teacher education program approval authority to ensure that the content of these programs meets international standards of subject matter as well as mastery of the craft of teaching. More rigorously assess teacher preparation programs based primarily on the success of a program’s graduates in the classroom and not on input measures such as the Praxis exam. Create a seed grant program for school districts to partner with university teacher preparation programs.

6. Teaching Profession: In order to recognize effective teachers and incentivize them to stay in the classroom, Maryland must build a statewide career ladder system modeled on the most effective such systems in the US and the world. Advancement up the ladder should be based on the acquisition of specified knowledge and skills, rigorous evidence of success as a classroom teacher and/or additional responsibilities commensurate with the additional compensation. While the career ladder will have a statewide framework, local school systems would negotiate the compensation and responsibilities at each step, as well as any additional ladder steps or requirements added to the statewide framework, through local negotiations. Phase–in a reduction of the maximum time, currently 70 to 80%, that teachers teach in order to give teachers more time to work as professionals in collaboration, as is the case for teachers in countries with high performing systems, to improve the curriculum, instructional delivery, and tutor students with special needs.

7. Career & Technology Education: Remove CTE from MSDE and LEA purview. Create 2 independent groups to A. revamp Maryland’s CTE program to align with Switzerland and Singapore; and B. hold school systems accountable for implementing the new CTE program requirements.

8. Leadership: The career ladder system should include school leaders. Train every currently serving superintendent, senior central office official, and principal in the State to give them the vision, motivation, skills and knowledge they will need to implement the recommendations made in this report.

9. Governance: To make sure that the Commission’s recommendations are implemented as intended, Maryland should establish an “independent entity” to guide and direct the implementation. The new entity would develop a detailed plan for implementation of the Commission's report, with goals, milestones and measurable interim objectives for all relevant government agencies and departments, including schools. This entity would have the authority to withhold increases in State education aid if a school system has not provided an implementation plan that is approved by the independent entity or is not making demonstrable progress in implementing the Commission’s recommendations in accordance with its approved plan.

 


For more information, contact MABE’s Director of Governmental Relations, John R. Woolums, Esq., at jwoolums@mabe.org or 410-841-5414.

 

All Board Service Academies and committee meetings are virtual during this time.

If you have any questions, please email jbeltz@mabe.org.