There must be tighter coordination between the O'Malley and Obama administrations on key areas of education reform. According to the U.S. Department of Education's annual review of Maryland's performance in the Race to the Top initiative, the state failed to set clear expectations for principal and teacher evaluation systems.
School reform in Maryland will be a 'race to the bottom' if the governor fails to get engaged in this. It is a serious problem when the U.S. Department of Education cites a leadership failure in the state's ability to implement needed reforms. Federal officials cited a leadership void when the state's education department was without a permanent superintendent.
In the second year of the $5 billion Race to the Top initiative, the Obama Administration singled out Maryland, Washington D.C. and Georgia as coming up short on progress in fundamental areas. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Maryland did not set clear expectations for the 2011-2012 school year in the development of a teacher and principal evaluation system which rendered the data meaningless and inconsistent. Lack of coordination between the state and local school districts was cited as the primary reason for the data collection failure.
I would like to see Gov. O'Malley reach out to President Obama and seek assistance on properly implementing the Race to the Top initiative. Our students and their parents deserve a way to measure how effective their teachers are.
According to Education Week magazine—the source that O'Malley has used more than any other to tout his Administration's success - the rankings as weighted towards quality criteria such as evaluating teacher performance likewise show weakness in the public school system. Under that criteria, Maryland's performance lags behind Virginia and Pennsylvania and joins Delaware and West Virginia in earning a "C" grade in that category.
There can be no serious effort at education reform without proper procedures to evaluate teacher performance. Maryland is behind the curve on implementing the most sweeping, fundamental and systemic changes to public schools our nation has seen in a generation.
In the Education Week annual report card, Maryland earns a 76.5 score under the accountability for quality criteria. Among the performance indicators this category measures are the degree to which teachers are formally evaluated.
This is clearly a problem our elected officials need to address immediately.