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### Blueprint education reform plan: Academia’s readiness to assist

Scholars discuss the Blueprint education reform plan at the University of Maryland, College Park on April 10, 2024. The panel includes Simone Gibson, Drew Fagan, Christy Terrell-Corbin, Segun Eubanks, Pamela Callahan (in the background), Amanda Cataneo, and Donald “DJ” Bolger. The photo was taken by William J. Ford.

Before the leaders of Maryland’s 24 school systems face upcoming deadlines to demonstrate their plans for advancing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education reform, they have the opportunity to consult with specific scholars at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The university recently introduced a framework for a teacher career ladder, offering recommendations on professional development, peer evaluations, and job descriptions. This framework incorporates policy briefs from segments of the Blueprint legislation ratified in 2021.

Developed in collaboration with public school systems and teachers’ unions in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, the career ladder framework was funded by a state grant awarded to the university.

One of the key components of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, the teacher career ladder holds significant transformative potential for the teaching profession, as highlighted by Pamela Callahan, a co-author of the framework and a recent education policy doctoral graduate. She emphasized the capacity of this ladder to enhance both the responsibilities and autonomy of teachers.

A group of seven professors, researchers, and education leaders convened at the University of Maryland to discuss the support they can provide to local school leaders and their endorsement of the Blueprint plan’s primary objectives.

Simone Gibson, an associate professor of education and urban studies at Morgan State University, is actively involved in the Maryland Initiative for Literacy and Equity (MILE), collaborating with the state to offer recommendations on literacy initiatives.

Various school districts, including Allegany, Calver, and Garrett counties, have identified the career ladder requirements as among their top challenges in documents submitted to the Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) overseeing the 10-year education reform plan.

The career ladder document from the University of Maryland, serving as a foundational guide for designing such programs, emphasizes the importance of facilitating teacher advancement within districts. It suggests that districts may establish additional criteria for progression between levels, beyond the Blueprint mandates.

Another crucial recommendation is to ensure that school leaders, such as principals and administrators, receive certification for supporting multilingual learners, recognizing the growing population of students with diverse language backgrounds in the state.

To address the needs of English language learners, districts are encouraged to expand dual immersion programs catering to students proficient in both English and another language. The Maryland Initiative for Literacy and Equity will host a dual immersion conference on June 1 at the College Park campus to further promote these programs.

Amanda Cataneo, a professional development program manager at MILE, emphasized the importance of equity in these initiatives, aiming to provide culturally and linguistically sustainable education for students learning English. Several counties in Maryland have already implemented dual immersion programs, with more planning to launch such programs in the near future.