Alice Johnson Cain, National Director of Policy for Teach Plus; Parent
Jeff Cohen, Chief Executive Officer of Sylvan Learning; Former White House Counsel
Howard Stone, Former vice chair of Prince George’s County School Board
Omari Todd, Regional vice president for Teach for America; Parent
Results from Maryland standardized tests tell a story: our students, on the whole, are achieving at very high levels compared to any other state in the country. Our public schools are doing us proud. But digging just a bit deeper into the numbers reveals a more troublesome reality: we are leaving behind very clear segments of our student population.
In Baltimore, and in fact across Maryland, the quality of education a child receives varies drastically from neighborhood to neighborhood and district to district. Despite some progress over time in Maryland’s elementary and middle school grades, the most recent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that overall averages mask huge gaps in performance between subgroups of students in the state. Too many of the state’s students— particularly minority students and those from low- income families—lag behind their peers.
Maryland has the second largest disparity in the country between the academic performance of low-income students and their wealthier peers in eighth grade math. We have the fourth largest gap in eighth grade reading.
In 2011, just 40 percent of 8th graders overall scored at the proficient level or above on the NAEP reading assessment, and only 18 percent of low-income students scored at the proficient level or above. Twenty one percent of African- American students scored at the proficient level or above—31 percentage points below their white peers. Only a third of the state’s Hispanic students reached the proficient level or above.
Less than a quarter of African-American 4th graders and 43 percent of Latino 4th graders scored proficient or above on the NAEP in math, compared with 64 percent of their white peers.
The achievement gap is growing. On the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 18 percent of black students in eighth grade scored at least proficient on the math exam, compared to 56 percent of white students. This 38-point performance gap is higher than it was in 1990 when the gap was 19 percentage points.
The work so far:
MarylandCAN has run one issue campaign—Bridge the Gaps—to keep front-and-center the notion that every Maryland child deserves access to a great school.
With its inaugural campaign, MarylandCAN established itself as a significant voice in the education reform movement, growing its local advocacy base to more than 2,200 state citizens, publishing original research—including an issue brief on overhauling Maryland’s public charter school law—convening the Maryland Charter School Task Force in partnership with the Baltimore Community Foundation and putting forth a key report with recommendations.
MarylandCAN has also partnered with more than 40 community organizations to support common sense school reform, including: Advocates for Children and Youth, Maryland Alliance for the Poor, Maryland State Department of Education and Maryland Parent Teacher Association, KIPP and Teach For America.
Earlier this year, KIPP Baltimore founder and former teacher Jason Botel announced that he would be taking the helm as MarylandCAN’s executive director. Learn more about Jason here.