Carroll schools to navigate new math standards for career education (2024)

New statewide standards for assessing a student’s college and career readiness require that a student demonstrate certain academic proficiencies by the end of their 10th grade year, in order to access college-level classes and career programs. According to a plan to implement new Blueprint for Maryland’s Future initiatives in Carroll County, the school system aims to continue providing career and technical education to students who do not meet the new standards.

The Blueprint is a multibillion-dollar public school reform effort entering the second year of its decade-long rollout. It is designed to make Maryland’s schools among the highest performing in the country by incorporating a $60,000 starting salary for new teachers, providing more time for teachers to plan lessons and develop skills outside the classroom, allowing high school students to enroll in unlimited community college classes at no charge to them or their family, and offering universal prekindergarten for 3-year-olds, among other initiatives.

Each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions submittedan updated implementation plan to the state’s accountability board last month, outlining plans and challenges to put in place Blueprint mandates.

With a student’s future potentially riding on their ability to pass Algebra 1, Carroll County Public Schools has created new common unit assessments and benchmarks in an effort to better align math curricula across grade levels, which, “represents a major systemwide change in the district,” according to the plan.

Students deemed college and career ready by the end of their 10th-grade year will have a choice from among three pathways: career and technical education, dual enrollment, or Advanced Placement, according to the Blueprint’s College and Career Readiness pillar. Students may choose an International Baccalaureate program instead of AP. Students will have the opportunity to benefit from aspects of each pathway during Blueprint’s phased 10-year rollout.

Students who pass both English 10 and Algebra 1 exams will be considered college and career ready, as well as those who earn a grade-point average of at least 3.0. Students who do not qualify for a pathway are considered to be on the “support” pathway so they can receive the resources necessary to become college and career ready. Local education agencies receive additional funds for each student deemed college and career ready.

According to the plan, 16 additional resource teachers have been hired to ensure all students have an opportunity to become college and career ready, and math instructional software through Algebra 1 has been implemented for all students.

“For students who are unsuccessful in meeting the new interim college and career readiness standards with successful completion of Algebra 1 by the end of 10th grade, our goal is to keep students on a pathway with their school-aged peers for as long as possible,” according to the plan. “This means students continue to the next course in the mathematics sequence while also being provided with support during the school day.”

The Blueprint implementation plan indicates that the new standards fail to recognize the needs of “more traditionally” career-oriented students, as many of those who are successful in the workforce now would have failed to meet the new standard, according to the implementation plan.

“CCPS will need to rely on already strained local funding to expand these programs,” according to the plan.

Students will also have access to a career coach beginning in middle school according to the plan.

The school system is exceeding Blueprint-required spending by about $1 million in fiscal 2024, according to the plan.

Carroll County students’ proficiency in math and English have shown modest improvement, according to results from the Maryland State Comprehensive Assessment shared with the Board of Education last September. While 68% of English 10 test-takers were at least proficient in the subject, only 22% of algebra 1 test-takers scored proficient or higher. Many attribute the gap to pandemic-related learning loss, which is exacerbated in mathematics by the subject’s tendency to build upon prior knowledge.

Free community college

The opportunity for high school students to dual enroll in community college classes at no cost to them or their family stems from a Blueprint initiative implemented in the 2022-2023 school year.

In fiscal 2023, the system needed a year-end budget transfer of $878,000 to pay for dual enrollment costs, and a similar transfer is anticipated for fiscal 2024 now that the system is paying for books and fees, the plan notes.

The implementation of new Blueprint college and career readiness standards is expected to result in state aid for dual enrollment programs decreasing by 55% in fiscal 2025. “As a result, CCPS and Carroll Community College are collaborating to develop a dual enrollment program that aligns with Blueprint, is accessible for students, and is fiscally responsible,” according to the plan.

The plan also notes that students have shown a preference for dual enrollment over Advanced Placement classes, which culminate in a final exam that wholly determines eligibility for college credit.

“Our systemic goal is to enhance AP course opportunities for all students and, specifically, to increase the number of historically underserved students taking AP courses,” according to the plan.

According to the plan, providing staff to offer both dual enrollment and Advanced Placement pathways in all high schools is a financial concern, especially as some Advanced Placement classes have historically low enrollment.

In the fall of 2023, 1,326 Carroll County high school students were dual enrolled, an increase from 760 in the 2022 fall semester. Of the 1,561 classes taken that semester, 36 failing grades were reported, according to the implementation plan.

Carroll schools to navigate new math standards for career education (2024)
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