Maryland teachers listen up! There’s a $250 million prize at stake, and the Maryland Board of Education thinks it’s worth going after.
For schools, it means sharing in a $4 billion incentive package being offered to the nation’s public schools for improved student performance. For teachers, it may mean standardized test scores could become a factor in staying on the payroll.
At a meeting this week in Annapolis, the state’s education board voted unanimously to apply for the second round of “Race to the Top” funds from the federal government. That application requires changes meant to unify reading and math standards across the country. The state’s teachers would be tenured and evaluated based on new federal academic guidelines.
Teachers unions in Baltimore, Frederick, Howard and St. Mary’s counties are complaining that they were not included in the decision process. They are raising concern that standardized test scores may be given too much weight in evaluating a teacher’s performance in the classroom.
Most Maryland school boards and superintendents have approved the application. One hold out, however, is Superintendent Jerry Weast, of Montgomery County. His district, the wealthiest in the state, has not been enticed into the race for the $250 million prize.
Meanwhile, Virginia isn't planning to apply for second-round funds after its first-round application was unsuccessful, as the state fell short in demonstrating efforts to boost teacher quality and to adopt common national standards and assessments. Virginia already has a standards program in place, state officials said.
Delaware and Tennessee won the first round of prize money from the $4 billion fund. District of Columbia Public Schools came in last among the 16 finalists.