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Maryland Toes the Line Under NCLB

April 1, 2003 Contact: Dan Langan or Melinda Malico, (202) 401-1576

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Maryland has completed work on a plan for a strong state accountability system aligned with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced today.

Paige made the announcement during a visit to Hillsmere Elementary School in Annapolis, Md. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and Maryland Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick joined him at the school.

"Today I am pleased to announce approval of Maryland's state accountability plan, and I congratulate your state superintendent of education, Nancy Grasmick, and all those who worked with her as a team to accomplish this," Paige said. "Maryland has long been a leader in standards-based education reform. Reaching this new milestone is another achievement and a step forward. I am confident that Maryland will use this plan as a guide to better address the education needs of all of the state's children."

Under NCLB's strong accountability provisions, states must describe how they will close the achievement gap and make sure all students, including disadvantaged students, achieve academic proficiency. In addition, they must produce annual state and school district report cards that inform parents and communities about state and school progress. Schools that do not make progress must provide supplemental services, take corrective actions and -- if still failing to make adequate yearly progress after five years -- must implement alternative governance actions.

Maryland is the seventh state to gain approval. President Bush announced approval of plans from Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Massachusetts and New York on Jan. 8 and Mississippi received approval on March 19.

No Child Left Behind is the landmark education reform law designed to change the culture of America's schools by closing the achievement gap, offering more flexibility, giving parents more options and teaching students, based on what works. Foremost among the four key principles is an insistence on stronger accountability for results. To achieve that, states must develop strong accountability systems or improve those already in place, establish high standards and hold all children to the same standards. They also must provide instruction by highly qualified teachers that results in steady progress and, ultimately, proficiency for all students by the 2013-14 school year.

Secretary Paige recently asserted that the new law aims to correct the "previous and pervasive 'separate and unequal' education systems that taught only some students well while the rest -- mostly poor and mostly minority -- floundered or flunked out."

For the first time, Paige has noted, the law injects accountability into state and local education systems by requiring a single accountability system for all students in a state. While states were required to develop single accountability systems under the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, in reality, few states did so and most instead kept intact one system of expectations for advantaged students and one lower set of expectations for disadvantaged students.

All states submitted draft accountability plans to the U.S. Department of Education by the Jan. 31 deadline. Following an initial review and technical assistance, if needed, the next step is on-site peer review of the state's proposed accountability plan. Teams of three or four peer reviewers -- independent, nonfederal education policy, reform or statistical experts -- conduct each peer review. Following a review of the team's consensus report, the department provides feedback to the state and works with the state to resolve any outstanding issues. Ultimately, Paige approves the state plan, as he did today.

To date, 35 states have had peer reviews of their state plans, and 45 states have had informal meetings with senior Department officials to discuss their accountability plans.

Maryland's plan will be posted online in the coming days at: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/CFP/csas/index.html.

For more information about the No Child Left Behind Act, go to www.nochildleftbehind.gov.

— Press Release
Paige Approves Maryland State Accountability Plan Under No Child Left Behind
U. S. Department of Education Press Release
April 1, 2003


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