State Roundup, August 19, 2015

Gov. Larry Hogan’s push to reform the state’s redistricting process has turned the usual politics upside down; Hogan announces he’s 95% cancer free; farm uses Hogan image for American Cancer Society corn maze fund-raiser; as state formally cancels Red Line with feds, advocates say administration not complying with public records law; health insurance marketplace rolls rise 39%; Frederick County repeals English-only law; and who else will run for mayor of Baltimore City?

Maryland State Board of Education

New PARCC tests of Common Core standards saving money

A new Maryland commission to study over-testing of children in public schools has yet to begin work, but new standardized tests based on the Common Core curriculum standards are already saving the state money, and four out of five Maryland students who took the tests did them online.

Maryland School Assessment test

School systems must choose more standardized tests in the fall

Maryland public school systems will weigh this summer whether to add more standardized testing for 11th grade students in an effort to conform to a new state law that kicks in during the 2015-2016 academic year.

They face a choice of whether to add two Common Core-aligned tests to assess college and career readiness, or use scores from one of several already established college entrance exams like the SAT. It’s also possible students who take a college placement exam could be exempt from taking PARCC in school systems who elect to use it.

School lunch by USDAgov with Flickr Creative Commons License

Free meals program will expand to more Maryland schools

Through expanding a free meals program, legislators hope to come up with a simple solution for the complex question of enhancing student performance.

“Being able to reach your full potential during the course of the day, studying in school, is so dependent upon having school meal,” said bill sponsor, Del. Keith Haynes, D-Baltimore City.

Hogan Brinkley chart

Hogan rejects pressure for school aid, but surrenders in the long term

Gov. Larry Hogan stood his ground against increased education funding for next year's budget, refusing to add $68 million more legislators had set aside for school aid to the $6.1 billion he had already budgeted for public schools.

But ultimately he surrendered to lawmaker's wishes that he fully fund the Geographic Cost of Education Index in future years. He said he would allow a bill forcing him to fund the GCEI to become law without his signature because he could not get the votes to sustain his veto.

Ebersole Hogan Miller Busch

Commission will study over-testing of Md. school children

Maryland lawmakers decided the first step to solving over-testing in Maryland public schools is to understand the full problem, so they passed a bill creating a 19-member commission that will attempt to alleviate the pressure of excessive student testing.

The Commission to Review Maryland's Use of Assessments and Testing in Public Schools became law Tuesday, as Gov. Hogan signed HB 452 into law.

classroom by woodleywonderworks on flickr cropped

Loss of expected funding has school systems on edge as they urge Hogan to release money

Public schools are set to receive record funding in the projected 2016 state budget, with Gov. Hogan increasing funding by $109 million. However, Maryland school districts and their unions say they will not be able to fill 3,283 jobs they had hoped to have if Hogan chooses not to fully fund the Geographic Cost of Education Index. It was projected to provide $68 million more. School advocates are calling these “positions at risk”

Photo Illustration by Rebecca Lessner

Charter school bill excludes online education

An amended charter school bill will slam the door on Maryland’s chance to follow the 29 other states across America in embarking onto the newly charted plains of cyber-schooling, according to charter school advocates.

School lunch by DC Central Kitchen on Flickr

Free meals would be expanded to many schools by legislation

Legislators are moving to dish out free meals to hungry schoolkids, who are too embarrassed by living below the poverty level to eat free lunches in front of peers.

The Hunger-Free Schools Act of 2015 would abolish the current enrollment process of singling out low-income students with paper applications.

By godog with Flickr Creative Commons

Standardized tests are target of proposed commission, budget debate

Legislators hoped to “reclaim the education system” by grappling with several concerns about standardized tests in the state and the way they’ve overtaken the school calendar.

With the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing being newly implemented this year, legislators are reacting to complaints from constituents and teachers about excessive testing hours.