Big Changes Coming in How Maryland Teens Are Deemed Ready for College, Career

A higher ed commission also discussed challenges for students transferring from a community college to a four-year institution.

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At a Wednesday meeting of Maryland Higher Education Commission, officials discussed how the implementation of Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, an education overhaul passed by the 2021 Maryland General Assembly, may drastically change how students are assessed for college and career readiness, among other topics.

Emily Dow, assistant secretary of Academic Affairs provided updates on where MHEC stands in the implementation of the Blueprint, which includes goals of increasing access to higher education and career training as well as supporting the education of future public school teachers.

The Blueprint requires that education-focused state agencies to submit a plan for implementation, which MHEC submitted in March. The plan includes providing a teaching fellows scholarship and loan assistance programs for public school teachers.

The Blueprint also prompts MHEC to work alongside other state and local education agencies to create alternative teacher certification pathways and college readiness standards.

Part of Wednesday’s discussion focused on how to adequately determine if high school students are ready for colleges or career opportunities after graduation.

The Blueprint’s Accountability & Implementation Board proposed new standards that would measure a student’s college and career readiness. If students have a grade point average of at least 3.0 and a passing grade in algebra 1 by the end of 10th grade, they would meet the standard.

If a student did not reach those criteria, they could still demonstrate proficiency and readiness through standardized testing like the MCAP assessments. If a student struggles to pass those exams, they would receive additional services to reach those metrics by the end of high school.

But Commissioner Chike Aguh raised a concern that the current proposed metrics mostly focus on whether a child is “college ready” but may not adequately determine if a student is “career ready.”

“Usually when we talk about CCR, college and career standards, we end up talking about college readiness. We generally hear very little about career readiness,” Aguh said.

Dow responded that she was not quite sure.

“At least in the meetings with AIB (Accountability and Implementation Board), it is on their radar. I do not know how that is getting addressed with specificity…But just know that there have been opportunities, when it is appropriate, to speak up and say ‘let’s recognize that these are academic metrics that are designed for academic outcomes.’ And you are absolutely right that we are missing a piece to this definition, to this this concept of college and career readiness.”

The committee also discussed some challenges for students transferring from a community college to a four-year institution.

“A student starts off at a community college, and they transfer to a four-year institution, with or without an associates degree… and the four-year institution may say ‘yes, some of your courses can transfer, but some of your courses can’t. And you’re going to have to retake something slightly different because it’s not exactly what we want.’ And then the sending institution would never be the wiser … that they have designed a course that is not transferring or is not well aligned for a student to be successful at a four-year institution,” Dow said.

In 2021, the General Assembly passed the Transfer with Success Act attempting to resolve that issue, and MHEC is still working on implementation of an overhaul on the credit transfer process.

Maryland’s institutions of higher education submitted implementation plans in January describing how they were going to improve credit transfers among institutions.

Dow noted that the plans varied. Some institutions said they were going to focus on improving credit transfers between their immediate partnering institutions, while other indicated that they were going to focus on credit transfers for their most popular majors that receive transfer students.

Maryland Matters is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Maryland Matters maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Danielle Gaines for questions: dgaines@marylandmatters.org. Follow Maryland Matters on Facebook and Twitter.

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