The following summarizes content from the state's application for Lead State Partner in 2011.
State Superintendent of Schools: Lillian M. Lowery
Primary Point of Contact: Mary M. Thurlow — Coordinator for Science
Partner Organizations: The Maryland Business Roundtable for Education; Maryland Public TV; Maryland Association of Science Teachers; Maryland Science Supervisors Association; UMCES; University of Maryland College Park; Maryland Science Center; Northup Grumman; Tech Council of Maryland; Hackerman Academy of Mathematics and Science
Background: Maryland requires all students to complete at least three science courses, including two laboratory classes. All students must take biology and the remaining two courses can consist of in any or all of the following areas: earth science, life science, physical science, environmental science. Maryland has six science standards, with Standard 1.0 (Skills and Processes) organized in grade bands, PreK–2, 3–5, 6–8, and the remaining five standards arranged regarding learning progressions, connections, and grade level appropriateness. In Maryland, each Local Education Agency (LEA) has the option to localize the state curriculum by either identifying particular state standards to be taught in specific grades or by constructing a science curriculum using the state standards. Students are assessed in science in grades 5 and 8 using the Maryland School Assessment (MSA), and high school students are assessed in biology, this assessment included SR and BCR items until 2009 when the format was changed to only SR items to accommodate faster return of results. Maryland’s current standards are based on the National Science Education Standards and Benchmarks for Science Literacy which were published over fifteen years ago, and are incomplete regarding current research and advancements. Maryland recognizes the need for rigorous standards based on the “big ideas” and “practices” of science, and is positioned to adopt the NGSS once developed.
Commitment: Maryland shows a strong commitment to standards based learning through its adoption of the Common Core State Standards and its position as a governing state in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Maryland is eager to update and revise its current standards and is ready and able to move with the pace of the NGSS on development, adoption, and implementation.
STEM Involvement: STEM education has become a growing item of concern in Maryland, and there have been numerous recent advances in Maryland STEM education. The Governor’s Task Force on STEM Education developed seven recommendations to guide Maryland STEM work: (1) Align P-12 STEM curriculum with college requirements and workplace expectations in order to prepare all students for postsecondary success; (2) Triple the number of teachers in STEM shortage areas who are prepared in Maryland programs, increase their five-year retention rate from an estimated 50% to 75%, and enhance STEM preparation and aptitudes for elementary and early childhood teachers; (3) Ensure that all P-20 mathematics and science teachers have the knowledge and skills to help all students successfully complete the college-and career-ready curriculum; (4) Provide STEM internships, co-ops, or lab experiences for all interested high school and college students to jump-start their successful transition to the workplace; (5) Increase the number of STEM college graduates by 40% from the present level of 4,400 graduates by 2015; (6) Boost Maryland’s global competitiveness by supporting research and entrepreneurship; (7) Create Maryland’s STEM Innovation Network to make STEM resources available to all. In January of 2011, a STEM office was created within the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to guide this initiative and has commenced work on developing STEM standards focusing on key concepts and ideas. Additionally, MSDE has teamed up with Institutions of Higher Education to develop an elementary STEM certification program with the intent of furthering STEM education in Maryland.
Alliances and Infrastructure: Maryland has pooled resources with organizations, alliances, and higher education institutions regarding P–12 education and these associations are helping to assist with issues surrounding communications, instruction, and development, among others. The Maryland Business Roundtable for Education and Maryland Public TV are two large alliances with which MSDE collaborates on a plethora of education topics, specifically developing resources and opportunities for teachers and students. Maryland also works closely with Higher Education Institutions throughout the state on curriculum and professional development.
Check back soon for more information on Maryland's state team and implementation plans