College Success Task Force
May 26, 2009
Maryland Higher Education Commission
9 AM – 11:30 AM
1. Welcome and Introductions
Dr. James Lyons, Secretary of Higher Education, and Dr. Nancy Grasmick, State
Superintendent, welcomed members of the Task Force. Dr. Grasmick discussed the importance
of this Task Force in helping to ensure success for students as they matriculate into higher
education from PreK-12. Dr. Lyons shared that he felt that this was the dawn of a new day –
one where alignment between PreK-12 and higher education would come to reality. Several
State efforts concerning alignment are coming together: the invitation extended by Senator
Currie and Delegate Conway for Dr. Spence to meet with a Maryland team, recommendations
from the Commission to Develop the Maryland Model for Funding Higher Education and
follow-up language in the Joint Chairs’ Report, and the Governor’s interest in recommendations
to move forward. Members of the Task Force introduced themselves and described their
2. SREB Presentation
Dr. David Spence, president of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), distributed two
documents. The first is titled Statewide College/Career Readiness Initiative: Issues and
Questions. The second is titled Strengthening Statewide College Readiness Initiative: Model
Agenda. Dr. Spence discussed the Gates Grant that is behind this work currently being done by
Dr. Spence stated that the Task Force needs to decide what is meant by college readiness, and
that no state has done so comprehensively at this point in time. He stated that there are three
overriding principles for this discussion: answering the question how it will help public schools
prepare more kids for college and career; setting college readiness standards that are the school
standards, not something external, because that’s what the teachers teach; and strongly
connecting those standards to assessments, accountability, professional development, teacher
preparation, and curriculum.
Dr. Spence referred to the issues document and stated that readiness will likely be a more
significant issue than we think. The standards will have to be much higher than they are now,
and teachers will need to know exactly what kind of performance is expected. Additionally,
however, a readiness passing score will have to be high enough so that students actually succeed
in college, and it will likely be very different from a graduation score. Much more emphasis
will have to be put on reading comprehension in and through the 12th grade; even with
mathematics performance, it is often reading comprehension that creates difficulties.
3. Coming to Our Senses Report
Dr. Brit Kirwan discussed the Coming to Our Senses report of the College Board, which was
produced by a national commission he chaired. He discussed how far the United States has
fallen in terms of educating our citizenry compared to other industrialized countries: the US is
11th in college completion rates and 21st of 27 in high school graduation rates. The report
recommends that we should be aiming for a 55% college completion rate, which is the rate that
other industrialized countries have or soon will have and also the rate that economists say we
need to keep growing our own economy. Dr. Kirwan reviewed the Commission’s conclusions,
which include 1) Poverty plays a huge role in student performance; 2) There is insufficient
college prep counseling at the middle school level; 3) There is a lack of rigor in the curriculum;
and 4) There is a lack of alignment among the various sectors of education. He also reviewed
the Commission’s 10 recommendations and the need for model legislation to move this agenda
forward. (The ten recommendations are listed in the executive summary of the report available
on the task force web page.)
4. Race to the Top
Dr. Grasmick discussed briefly the Race to the Top funding that will soon be available from the
federal government. She stated that stabilization funding had already been provided to
governors. There has also been money set aside for targeted areas such as Title I and students
with disabilities. We are still waiting to hear final word on how to apply for the Race to the Top
funding, but we do know that it will be a competitive process requiring the following elements:
highly qualified teachers and their placement; longitudinal data systems; chronically
underperforming schools; and assessments and standards.
5. American Diploma Project
Dr. Ron Peiffer, Deputy State Superintendent, provided an overview of Maryland’s participation
in the Maryland Diploma Project. He also distributed packets of information from Achieve.
There are currently 35 states and 85% of the students in the country who are in states involved
with the American Diploma Project. Maryland is one of the participating states in the pilot
Algebra II tests this year as part of this project. (Additional information on the American
Diploma Project, or ADP, can be found at www.achieve.org.)
Dr. Bernadette Sandruck, Mathematics Department Chair at Howard Community College,
discussed Maryland’s involvement with alignment issues in mathematics over the years. She
talked about the initial work with the Bridge Goals across the state for Algebra II and how the
mathematics community created their own assessment for these Bridge Goals. While the
community colleges that use the same assessment share common cut scores for entry into credit-
level mathematics, four-year institutions vary as to their assessments and cut scores. She also
discussed roadblocks along the way and how students needed to come to college ready to be
Mary Cary, Assistant State Superintendent, talked about the work of the English Composition
Task Force and the English Alignment Committee, both of which she co-chaired. These groups
engaged in serious work surrounding students’ readiness for college in English language arts.
She shared with the group that the English Language Arts Voluntary State Curriculum (VSC)
was being revised at the same time as the work of this Task Force and Alignment committee
was progressing. Ms. Cary discussed the process followed by both groups and described the
current status of implementation of the new VSC – basically we are at the beginning stages.
(Additional information about the work done through these committees is available through the
Task Force web page.)
6. High School Options Study Group
This discussion was tabled for the current meeting.
7. Requirement of a Longitudinal Database, P-20
Dr. Nancy Grasmick had previously discussed this agenda item when she shared information on
Race to the Top funding. She also discussed it at the end of the meeting. A handout was
provided giving details. Some of the details on that handout include: Maryland has had 3 of the
10 essential data elements recommended by the National Data Quality Campaign, which will be
the standard USDE will be using to evaluate how states are doing in terms of having State data
systems; MSDE has received two multi-million dollar grants that will enable Maryland to have
6 of the 10 data elements in the foreseeable future; Unique student IDs for K12 were assigned in
2007-08, but higher education and workforce data still use SSNs; and additional support is
needed to match student records among these systems.
8. Charge of the Task Force and Potential Issues
Discussion of the charge and possible issues and questions for consideration by the Task Force
Dr Nancy Grasmick and Dr. James Lyons reviewed the charge to the Task Force with task force
members. It was also provided in the packets, and it will be posted on the Task Force website.
The Task Force reviewed the List of Potential Issues for Consideration by the P-20 College
Success Task Force (from the packet), and engaged in a general discussion. Some of the items
discussed were as follows;
a. We need to have a deep understanding of the work already done by the Statewide Math
Group, the English Language Arts Task Force, the English Alignment Committee, and other
statewide groups that work on alignment issues.
b. SREB will interview math and English language arts secondary and postsecondary faculty
as part of their work under the Gates Grant.
c. We need to do a gap analysis and see ourselves through the lens of what is happening
d. There has been much less work done on reading, and we need to face that as well.
e. What will we do with students who do not make standards?
f. Early assessment before 12th grade has been used by some states to help identify what extra
help students need.
g. We need specialized 12th-grade courses, such as expository reading and writing and some
h. Students forget math when they are not enrolled in math courses.
i. We need benchmarks along the way to high school. Staring in high school is way too late.
j. We need to make sure that the work of this Task Force is integrated with what is going on in
local school systems, particularly the work they are already doing with their local colleges
and universities. Make sure we avoid overlap.
k. There is a perception that part of the reason for the gap is a lack of communication among
the sectors; however, it is apparent that is not true.
l. There is a concern about the amount of funding from Thornton and why we still need
additional funding for transition into college.
m. There is alarm because community colleges say there is so much developmental education
required for students who just graduated from high school.
n. Is alignment just a response to the “what?” Or is it also the “when” and “how?”
o. We need to have diplomas that have meaning. “Training” now in the workplace is more
technical than it used to be.
The following announcements appeared at the bottom of the agenda and are hereby incorporated
into these meeting notes.
a. The Task Force has its own website that contains all of the information presented at meetings as
well as other important documents. Task Force members are encouraged to look at this website.
The URL is: http://marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/divisions/leadership/programs/cstf
b. If a Task Force member cannot attend a meeting, a substitute is welcome to attend as an
observer but may not vote if an issue arises. Only Task force members can vote.
c. Meeting Schedule:
June 30, 10:30 – 1:00; MHEC
July 31, 9:00 – 11:30; MHEC
September 28, 9:00 – 11:30; MSDE, Conference Room 6/7 on 8th Floor
November 2, 9:00 – 11:30; MHEC
d. We will decide how to divide up the work of the Task Force after the first meeting when we see
what issues arise.
e. Membership List: Please review the membership list provided to you and contact Jim Foran at
410-767-0589 or firstname.lastname@example.org if any changes need to be made.