Maryland Education Reform

Board of Education Letter to Carroll Delegation 
The Board of Education recently wrote to the members of the Carroll County Delegation to address issues related to education reform. Click here to read the letter.


In Carroll County, revisions to existing curriculum or the creation of new curriculum always begins with the Board-appointed Curriculum Council. Members are appointed by the Board of Education and are comprised of parents with a student representative.  Their meetings are public as are any documents produced during the meetings.

When a new curriculum is being proposed or a current curriculum is being revised, our curriculum supervisors first meet with the Curriculum Council and review the proposed changes. They seek feedback and take into account recommendations from the Council, or provide further clarification about the changes as needed.  On occasion, we receive input from members of the Council for new courses or revisions to existing courses that they would like to see offered to students. 

After the Curriculum Council provides us input and feedback, teachers are employed over the summer to develop the curriculum for the identified area such as math, English language arts, science, or any other course of study under review.  Generally, curriculum is reviewed/changed on a continuous cycle regardless of any state or federal education law.
Once the new curriculum guides are developed, they are presented to the Board of Education as pilot curriculum guides at their public meeting each September.  These guides are reviewed and discussed during the public session.  The pilot curriculum guides are then put out for a 30 day public comment period.
After the public has had an opportunity to review the pilot curriculum guides, we use the new curriculum for one year.  During the year, we assess its success and make changes as needed based on feedback from teachers.  The following September, the Board of Education receives the curriculum guides again at their public meeting. The guides are presented as a discussion item with a recommendation to approve the new curriculum for use in all schools and as an addition to the following year’s Program of Studies. 
The new curriculum is then again put out for public comment for 30 days and the new curriculum is made available to any citizen that wishes to review it.  In October, the Board approves the new curriculum guides for use in our schools. 
In addition, the Board of Education also approves the Program of Studies at the high school level and also less frequently at the middle school level.  The Program of Studies is the foundational document for every course and instructional program offered to Carroll County Public Schools students.    
As you can see, changes in our curriculum to align it with the Maryland Common Core Standards happened through a very transparent public process with an opportunity for parent and community involvement over the two-year approval period.  Every revision to each piece of curriculum was presented twice to the Board in public session and advertised to the community with an offer to review it prior to its adoption by the Board of Education in public session. Minutes and video of each meeting are available on our website for review at the following links.
Meeting Videos



In March 2010, at their public meeting, the Board of Education heard a presentation from the Maryland State Department of Education about a new federal education grant program called, “Race to the Top (RTTT).” There has been a federal educational program affecting local school systems since 1965 when Congress first passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).Currently, there are two federal education programs that affect Carroll County Public Schools. The first is “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB), passed under the Bush administration, and now “Race to the Top.” For instance, the Maryland Assessment Program, which is tied to NCLB, will still be given across Maryland during this school year. 

Generally, educational reform under RTTT falls into three categories:

1.    Adoption of Maryland’s Common Core Standards,
2.    Revisions to teacher and principal evaluations based in part on student performance, and
3.    Student assessments tied to performance standards.
In April 2010, the Board of Education, by a 3-1 vote, decided not to join Maryland’s effort to apply for RTTT funds. Board members indicated that they felt they needed more information on the three components of the grant and were unsure of the local fiscal impact with these reform efforts. 
However, Carroll County Public Schools ultimately did join Maryland’s RTTT application along with 21 other Maryland public school systems when Superintendent Ecker signed the RTTT Memorandum of Understanding for Carroll County Public Schools.  Dr. Ecker stated at the time that he felt the reform efforts would become Maryland education law and Carroll County would be forced to implement them with no additional revenue. He was correct in his forecast. 
Race to the Top was adopted by Maryland in August 2010 when Maryland applied for and received a $250 million dollar education grant from the federal government. Those funds were split between the Maryland State Department of Education and local public school systems. We received $520,000 to offset the cost of implementing changes to align with the provisions of Maryland educational reform. During that same year, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Education Reform Act of 2010 and incorporated components of RTTT into our state education law. 
Therefore, in 2010 we began to align our curriculum with Maryland’s Common Core Standards with the same process we used for the Maryland State Curriculum which was an offshoot of the federal No Child Left Behind law. 

Concerns with New Teacher/Principal Evaluations and Student Assessments
Currently, Carroll County Public Schools staff is actively working within the waiver process to provide us flexibility in the implementation of new student assessments, known as Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), and the teacher and principal evaluation process. We have been vocal opponents of the speed at which these two remaining elements are being implemented, as well as their financial impact on our school system. We have joined forces with like-minded counties to request waivers from the law to slow down their implementation to a more reasonable and affordable schedule. We will know the outcome of this waiver request sometime before the end of the calendar year.


1965 – (Johnson) Congress first passed the Education and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA was passed as a part of the "War on Poverty" and emphasized equal access to education as well as establishing high educational standards and accountability. The law created a special source of funding (Title I), and allocated large resources to meet the needs of educationally deprived children, especially through compensatory programs for the poor.

1975 – (Ford) Public Law 94-142, later changed to the “Individuals with Disabilities Act,” (IDEA) equal access including free lunch.  This was probably the biggest federal footprint on education.  Race to the Top (RTTT) pales by comparison to the mandated measure of this federal legislation.  Prior to this federal law, there was no real attempt to provide individualized learning to special education students and no real program to include special education students in classes with their non-disabled peers.

1975 - 88 – Various legislative efforts about educational access including an interpretation of Title IX which ultimately required equal opportunity and funding of girls high school sports.  

1983 (Reagan) – A Nation at Risk - Thirty-eight recommendations, across five major categories: Content, Standards and Expectations, Time, Teaching, Leadership and Fiscal Support. These recommendations led to extensive standardized testing in Maryland.

2001 – (Bush 42) The most comprehensive federal intrusion on local education was the passing of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. NCLB set in place requirements that reached into virtually every public school in America. It expanded the federal role in education and took particular aim at improving the educational experience of disadvantaged students. It required annual testing of students to ensure that every child reached a proficient level in math and English language arts by 2013-14 and required that every teacher in core content areas working in a public school be certificated in the subject they taught. Schools that failed to meet proficiency standards were restructured. 

2010 – Race to the Top (Obama) – Replaces traditional federal funding with a competitive grant program that can only be accessed through state applications. States that were awarded grants had to revise curriculum to meet Common Core Standards in math and English language arts, revise teacher and principal effectiveness to include components of student growth, and assess students based on performance measures. 

Various Years – Supreme Court decided teacher and student rights, integration, discipline and in some cases access to curriculum.



Carroll County Public Schools is cooperating with the Maryland State Department of Education to usher in Maryland’s third wave of educational reform. Carroll County has agreed to align its reform efforts to Maryland’s five-pronged strategy that will provide the appropriate challenges and supports to students, educators, and administrators to bring Maryland’s education system to world-class status. Maryland’s five-pronged strategy includes the following goals:
  • Ensure that all students are fully prepared for college and career in the 21st Century;
  • Build a state-wide technology infrastructure that links all data elements with analytic and instructional tools to promote student achievement;
  • Develop and support great teachers and great leaders;
  • Turn around low-achieving schools; and
  • Develop curriculum and resources in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) to address the Common Core State Standards.
 Race to the Top
The State of Maryland applied for and was awarded a competitive Race to the Top grant from the federal government to help fund its third wave of educational reform. Carroll County Public Schools is due to receive $520,521 over the next four years to help implement various reforms efforts. In order to receive the grant funds, our school system is required to complete a scope of work plan that is aligned with Maryland’s Race to the Top application. A sixteen-member steering committee was convened to develop our scope of work plan. What follows is an accounting of how Carroll County Public Schools will spend its $520,521 Race to the Top funds over the next four years.
 CCPS Scope of Work Plan

Curriculum alignment/gap analysis to the Common Core Standards  $81,135
Curriculum and assessment development  $40,568
Educator Instructional Improvement Academy substitutes  $55,227
Elementary Mathematics Summer Institutes   $48,536
Development of new teacher and principal evaluation system   $19,870
Planning systems for the equitable distribution of teachers and principals  $6,136
Computer devices to support online instruction, assessment, and training  $269,049
Total  $520,521


The Maryland State Department of Education has provided local school systems with general information regarding the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This information will provide answers to many of the questions you may have regarding Common Core and Maryland’s new state curriculum.

General Information 

  Maryland PARCC Resources for the Field Test and Beyond
Contains links to a variety of resources about the PARCC Assessments and the 2014 PARCC Field Test.

Maryland Classroom on Common Core and PARCC
(May 2013 Issue)

Addresses the Common Core State Standards and Maryland's new State curriculum aligned to the standards, as well as the new next generation assessments.

  The Common Core State Standards
Explains the development of the CCSS and the major shifts involved in English/language arts, literacy, and mathematics education and how the new standards prepare students for college and career readiness.
  Frequently Asked Questions
Answers the most frequently asked questions regarding the CCSS.
  Myths and Facts
Provides factual information regarding the development, implementation, and content of the standards.
  Maryland's College and Career Ready Commitment
Examines Maryland's college and career ready commitment from multiple perspectives.
  Why College and Career Ready Standards?
Explains the reasoning behind the shift to college and career ready standards, why these standards are a necessary improvement, and how the standards will prepare each student.
  Common Core Shifts for ELA and Mathematics
Explains the overall shifts in the ELA and mathematics standards called for by the CCSS.
  The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
Provides resources from the official PARCC website to help parents and educators understand the new assessments and how they are well-suited to assess students taught by the Common Core State Standards.
  Smart Phone Applications and UDL
Explains two smart phone applications that provide useful resources about the Common Core State Standards. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) resources explain UDL's goals and methods of use to expand learning opportunities.
  The Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Assessments
Provides a better understanding of Maryland's transition to the Common Core and how it will affect teaching in the classroom and student assessments.
  The Role of Language Literacy in College and Career Ready Standards
Information on how to improve English Language Learners' language and content learning alongside the implementation of the CCSS.
  Students with Disabilities & the Common Core State Standards:  Resources
Provides a comprehensive list of materials and resources, developed nationally, related to the CCSS and students with disabilities.
  Military Child Education Coalition, K-12 Core Curriculum Standards
Provides military families with an in-depth picture of how Common Core will help keep their children on track through their relocation process.


The Maryland State Department of Education has provided local school systems with general information regarding the PARCC Assessments. This information will provide answers to many of the questions you may have regarding these assessments.

General Information 

PARCC: A New Vision of Assessment PowerPoint

Explains how PARCC will be a different, more meaningful assessment that aids in student learning by providing “texts worth reading, problems worth solving, and tests worth taking.”

The PARCC Assessments – Videos & Helpful Links

Contains links to videos produced by Maryland Public Television (MPT), in partnership with MSDE, on the PARCC assessments and other education improvement initiatives, as well as links to PARCC tools and resources, including computer-based practice tests and sample test items.
Provides answers to a variety of questions about the PARCC assessments, including development, assessment design, scoring and reporting, technology, test administration, and special student populations.
Provides a glossary of frequently used PARCC assessment system terms and definitions.
Provides a policy that ensures the privacy and security of student data.
Features information, written in parent-friendly language on the state’s new academic standards, the PARCC consortium, the testing timeline, sample test questions, and ways for parents to get involved and support their child’s learning at home.
Provides information to parents about what their students can expect in the classroom when the new assessments are implemented, including what will be different about these tests and what information will be available about student achievement.
Informs parents about the accommodations and accessibility features embedded in the PARCC assessments that will be available to all students, students with disabilities, and English language learners.
PARCC Implementation Timeline - Espanol
Top 10 Things Parents Need to Know about Testing in Maryland - Espanol
Top 5 Things You Need to Know About Testing in High Schools - Espanol