Stakeholders provide feedback on college and career readiness standard

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(The Center Square) — After several intensive studies and many meetings, the Maryland State Board of Education recently met to hear from a panel of stakeholders and members of the public on the board’s proposed new College and Career Readiness Standard.

The State Board has been on a journey since 2021, when the state passed defining education legislation in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which, among many other things, called for a new, statewide College and Career Readiness Standard that would accurately indicate whether a student was on track to be college- or career-ready by the end of 10th grade.

An interim standard has been in place while board-commissioned studies with the American Institutes of Research were done to determine a longer-term, successful CCR that reliably predicts success in entry-level credit-bearing college courses.

AIR found that multiple measures by which students could meet the standard allowed more students to meet the standard and more accurately predicted future college and career success.

In October, the board met to finalize an initial proposed new CCR standard, and met last week to hear stakeholder and public feedback on that proposal.

Students could meet the proposed standard if they earned a cumulative 3.0 GPA by the end of their sophomore year and exhibited “math mastery” by achieving a grade of “C” or higher or scoring proficient or above on the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program. Or, they could meet the CCR standard simply by earning scores of proficient or higher on the ELA 10 and Algebra I MCAPs.

The board heard from multiple stakeholders in education and some from business and labor organizations. All of them offered guidance or recommendations.

Sanjay Rai, acting secretary of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, was pleased with the development of the standard, but he underscored the need for schools to offer non-calculus-based math classes after Algebra I, as some students’ college or career pathways may not require calculus-based math.

Nancy Shapiro, Associate Vice Chancellor for Education and Outreach for the University System of Maryland, had another mathematics critique and a reminder that Marylanders keep the CCR standard in proper perspective.

“USM urges the board to consider strengthening the mathematics preparation for high school students,” Shapiro advised.

Though the university system sees Algebra I and a 3.0 sophomore GPA as “a good starting place for college and career readiness,” students, parents and teachers should not conflate meeting the CCR standard with a guarantee of eventual college acceptance, nor should students take it as permission to coast through the rest of high school.

“Students should be encouraged to go beyond the CCR standard while they are in high school so they can keep their options open and not limit their choices prematurely,” Shapiro said in an email to The Center Square.

Michelle Corkadel, president of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, politely gave a somewhat disapproving review of the proposed CCR standard on behalf of MABE for several reasons.

MABE believes that using MCAP or SAT test scores as part of the CCR standard flies in the face of Maryland educational law, as it doesn’t communicate the state’s value of well-roundedness and could misclassify students. While GPA could be a more appropriate benchmark, MABE hopes that a “broader, more agile and holistic set of factors” might be used to determine students’ college or career readiness.

The organization also strongly advocates for the role of local educators and administrators in discerning which standards are appropriate for their students. And, unlike Rai and Shapiro, Corkadel sees the inclusion of the math mastery component as placing a disproportionate emphasis on math to the neglect of other important subjects that make for a well-rounded student.

Many other opinions were shared in addition to public comments that concluded the meeting.

The board repeatedly expressed gratitude for the feedback and insights from the stakeholders and members of the public. The board is set to meet again on Dec. 5 to vote on the proposed CCR standard.

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