Implementation of Common Core Standards in Maryland

Though officially adopted June 22, 2010 and fully implemented by the 2013-2014 school year, Maryland’s adoption of the Common Core standards has been anything by smooth. While the state has officially implemented the standards and begun testing using the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, for standardized testing, it’s been a battle every step of the way.

Prior to implementation, Maryland was continually ranked as the top school system in the country when their students were judged on readiness for college and beyond. This fact in and of itself is enough to explain why the state has been anything if not vocal against the shift. It was working great before, why rock the boat?

As standards began shifting the school system, resistance grew because the state was forcing too much change way too fast and too soon. Lawmakers, teachers and others involved in the process were extremely concerned about the amount of money being poured into the change but the lack of time needed to properly prepare. Much like the memorably bad Affordable Care Act Website launch, a majority of those in Maryland found the push to threaten an idea that is otherwise promising. Lillian Lowery, the superintendent of the Maryland school system, heard the concern and worked as hard as she could to buy the teachers more time, even pushing back the implementation of the Common Core teacher evaluations system.

Following this, in early 2014, the state used a stipulation set forth in the No Child Left Behind law to keep 25,000 students from taking their state test. Montana, Mississippi, Connecticut, Vermont and South Dakota have also followed suit. This was pursued as a means to keep students from being double tested. Maryland students could take one or the other, but not both. Some officials even tried to block the old Maryland state test altogether, stating that it no longer fit the curriculum as set forth by Common Core.

Even with that discussion going on, the state test was still administered, resulting in the lowest rates in seven years. Though headline fodder, the result is hardly surprising to many teachers and officials. It was already known the state test didn’t align with the new standards. While relatively upsetting for the state, it nonetheless indicated that standards implementation was truly starting to take hold.

The last big occurrence brought about in this small state was Lowery’s push to pass legislation that officially postponed teacher’s being judged based on PARCC test scores until the 2016-2017 school year. At that time, teacher evaluations were only partially based on test scores, leading them to be understandably worried their students needed more time to adapt before they could successfully take the test.

At the same time. Senator Rich Madaleno gave the setting of criteria for teacher evaluation directly back to the local school boards. Along with Common Core came a bill that moved to criteria as determined by the state itself. Because every school system within the state is different, it came as no surprise that educators were less than thrilled to be judged against standards that simply didn’t match the environment they were teaching in.

While Maryland is but one of many states back peddling since the first gung-ho movement for higher, nationalized standards, it is still pressing forward. Even with the ups and downs brought about by the change, no one is expecting the state to back out completely. In fact, the whole reason Lowery fought for delayed teacher evaluation was to make sure her state has the time it needs to properly switch from one style of teaching to another, an indicator in its own right that Maryland’s Common Core is here to stay.