Maryland ‘on track’ on federal teacher evaluation deadline, state says

Maryland officials say they are confident the state will meet federal deadlines to develop new teacher evaluation systems requiring the use of standardized test scores.

It’s a sharp turnaround for the Maryland State Department of Education. In December, the U.S. Department of Education told Maryland officials the state was at risk of losing about $40 million in Race to the Top Funds for falling behind on developing new teacher evaluation systems. About a month later, the federal agency released a report showing Maryland was behind in implementing Race to the Top requirements.

But David Volrath, Maryland’s head of teacher and principal evaluation, said Wednesday he is confident the state has turned its efforts around.

“We’ve reorganized the project to rocket this at an incredible pace to get us back on track,” Volrath said. He and other officials with the state Department of Education presented an update on changes to the teacher evaluation system at an education conference held in Baltimore on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Volrath also said the state has extended the deadline for school systems to submit revised teacher evaluation plans from May 15 to June 7. School systems requested more time to work on their proposals.

The state had rejected in February the first round of proposals from nine school systems, including Montgomery and Frederick counties, because they needed to increase the weight of state standardized test scores. States with evaluation systems that get rejected again may have to default to the state model.

Maryland has completed field testing of evaluation systems and expects to release a detailed report on its efforts the week of May 6, Volrath said.

Maryland’s 24 school systems have had to develop new teacher and principal evaluation systems to comply with federal and/or state education reforms that require using test scores to calculate how well students are learning. Montgomery and Frederick counties are exempt from some of the changes. The two districts disagreed with the standardized test requirements and rejected Race to the Top money.

Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.

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