MarylandCAN News Roundup: Top 10 Education News Stories of the Week

MarylandCAN's picks for top 10 news stories of the week.

1. Education ballot initiative results show mixed returns on school reform

November 7, 2012 | Joy Resmovits, The Huffington Post

While national attention remained fixed on President Barack Obama's election victory Wednesday morning, education ballot initiatives yielded different results across the country, showing that public opinion has yet to settle either way on the movement known as education reform.

Reform supporters come from both parties, and tend to push for charter schools and grading teachers in accordance with their students' standardized test scores. In some states, like Connecticut, South Dakota and Idaho, voters dealt the movement a significant blow, pushing back controversial measures that would have ended an elected school board, abolished teacher tenure and instituted merit pay. On the other side of the issue, a major charter school initiative in Georgia made it through, and the results for another similar measure in Washington were inconclusive as of Tuesday night, though it led in the polls as of Wednesday morning.

Read more here

2. Frederick County’s dropout rate lowest in the state

November 8, 2012 | Margarita Raycheva, The Gazette

The Frederick County Public Schools Class of 2011 has the lowest dropout rate and the third highest graduation rate among Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, new figures show.

Only two counties in Maryland had a higher graduation rate for the Class of 2011 than Frederick County’s 91.5 percent — Carroll County with 92.8 percent and Worcester County with 92.3 percent, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.

On the other hand, Frederick County’s Class of 2011 dropout rate of 5.05 percent was the best in the state, coming just above that of Carroll County at 5.39 percent and Howard County at 5.93 percent.

Read more here

3. Maryland teachers unions have strong “perceived influence,” report finds

November 7, 2012 | Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun

In an examination of how strong teachers unions are across the nation, Maryland ranked 23rd, which is considered "average" when stacked against 50 states and Washington, D.C.,  but the state's bargaining units apparently have a strong "perceived influence."

In a report recently released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education policy think-tank, researchers conducted a state-by-state analysis of teacher union activity across the country.

Read more here

4. Graduation rates latest NCLB waiver flash point

November 7, 2012 | Michele McNeil, Education Week

A growing chorus of education policy advocates is urging the U.S. Department of Education to strengthen graduation-rate accountability in states that have earned waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act .

In separate letters last month to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, a group of 36 civil rights, business, and education policy groups, along with U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., say they are concerned that many states' approved flexibility plans violate the spirit—if not the letter—of 2008 regulations that require all states to calculate the graduation rate in the same way and make those rates an important factor in high school accountability.

Read more here

5. Jack R. Smith – Maryland Superintendent of the Year – 2013

November 5, 2012 | Southern Maryland News Net

The Public School Superintendents’ Association of Maryland announced on Thursday, November 1, 2012, that Calvert County Public Schools’ superintendent, Dr. Jack Smith, will represent Maryland as Public School Superintendent of the Year for 2013. The announcement was made at the annual Maryland Negotiating Service Awards Banquet held in Ocean City, Maryland.

Superintendent Smith is currently serving in his seventh year as leader of the 16,352 student public school system. Eight years previous to this current assignment he served as a principal, director and deputy superintendent in Calvert County after serving as a principal for six years in Tokyo, Japan.

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6. Howard County students outperform others in state on HSAs

November 5, 2012 | Sara Toth, The Baltimore Sun

Howard County students continue to outperform their fellow students across the state when it comes to required High School Assessment exams.

In Howard County, 97 percent of graduating seniors passed the HSAs in 2012, according to the school system, compared to about 90 percent statewide.

The Maryland State Department of Education released the 2012 results Oct. 31.

Read more here

7. ‘Voters of tomorrow weigh in on 2012 election

November 7, 2012 | Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun

If 2,500 Baltimore middle school students have their way Tuesday, President Barack Obama will be re-elected, children of some illegal immigrants will pay in-state tuition rates, same-sex couples can marry and gambling in Maryland will not expand.

The results were announced Monday by the students of City Neighbors Charter School, who through a "Voters of Tomorrow" initiative conducted a mock vote in 29 city schools on key choices facing the state and country on Election Day.

Read more here

8. Few college graduates on Prince George’s school board

November 4, 2012 | Ovetta Wiggins, The Washington Post

The Prince George’s County school board has fewer college graduates serving current terms than any other school system in the Washington region, with only two of its eight members holding a bachelor’s degree.

That 25 percent of the board has a college degree places Prince George’s in stark contrast with boards in large districts throughout the region and across the United States, according to national school board data and a Washington Post survey of all Washington area jurisdictions.

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9. Washington County Public Schools focus on boosting student literacy

November 4, 2012 | Julie E. Greene, HeraldMail

Washington County Public Schools officials emphasized the school system’s renewed focus on improving students’ literacy skills last week after information about high school assessment test results from the 2011-12 school year was released by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Systemwide, the school system missed proficiency targets for reading among five population groups: all students, black students, white students, special-education students and students who received free or reduced-priced meals, said Jeremy Jakoby, testing and accountability supervisor for the local school system.

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10. School gets kudos from superintendent

November 2, 2012 | Charlene Sharpe, DelmarvaNow.com

Educators at Pocomoke Elementary School showed off what makes their school successful during a visit from state officials Friday.

Lillian Lowery, state superintendent of schools, visited Pocomoke Elementary School to honor it for being one of just eight Title I schools in the state to be recognized as a Superlative High Performing Reward school.

Read more here

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