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Schools are Ready to Open for the 2017-2018 Academic Year

Most Public Schools Opening After Labor Day

BALTIMORE – Maryland public school systems begin re-opening today, as another new record number of students is expected to fill classrooms for the 2017-18 academic year.

Most Maryland schools are opening after Labor Day for the first time in more than two decades, following Governor Larry Hogan’s executive order requiring a post-Labor Day start to the new school year for most schools and systems.

“This first day of school is an exciting time for students, parents, and teachers,” said Governor Hogan. “Our administration remains committed to ensuring that every Maryland student has access to a world-class education, and we wish everyone a safe and productive school year.”

Maryland school enrollment hit a record 886,221 students in 2016-17, with another 250,000 children involved in some form of pre-kindergarten, Head Start or licensed childcare program. Those numbers are expected to continue to rise.

Schools this fall begin the fourth full year of implementation of the stronger academic standards designed to better prepare students for life after graduation. Assessment data released earlier this week found progress being made, particularly in English language arts.

“Our ultimate goal is to provide students with a foundation for success in college or career,” said Dr. Karen B. Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools. “Maryland high school graduates must be ready for today’s jobs and those that will be created down the road.”

Noteworthy This School Year

Enrollment & Demographic Trends

  • Enrollment in Maryland public schools surpassed 886,000 in 2016, and there is little indication enrollment growth has crested. Maryland school enrollment has been steadily increasing since 2009, when the student population stood at 843,861.
  • Maryland’s student population also has experienced major demographic changes over the past 20 years. White students represent nearly 38.2 percent of the student population, followed by African-American students, who make up 34.1 percent of the student population. Both the White and African-American student populations have been in decline as a percentage of the student body in recent years.
  • Hispanic students represent 16.5 percent of the student body, while Asian students account for approximately 6.4 percent. Percentages of Hispanic and Asian students have been steadily rising. Also increasing is the percentage of students identifying themselves as two or more races, which is at 4.4 percent.
  • The State’s schools continue to serve a high percentage of students coming from circumstances of poverty. Last year, for example, 48.9 percent of Maryland elementary students were eligible for free- or reduced-price meals. Ten years earlier that tally stood at 39 percent – a dramatic increase over the decade.
  • More information on Maryland school demographics can be found on the Maryland Report Card website.

Strengthening Achievement, Accountability

  • Maryland’s College and Career Ready Standards have been in place in all public schools for four years or more, and already there are signs that the new core standards are having a positive effect. The State continues to be among the nation’s leaders in Advanced Placement success, and its high schools last year were ranked top in the nation by US News & World Report.
  • Results from the third year of the new State assessments were released earlier this week. The PARCC state assessments, aligned to the Maryland College and Career Ready Standards, replaced the math and English MSAs in 2014-15. As expected, results from the initial administrations found PARCC to be significantly more rigorous, but scores are on the rise. Complete state assessment data can be found here:
  • The latest revision of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act was signed into law in 2015. The new law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), provides a long-term, stable federal policy that gives states additional flexibility and encourages innovation in states, local school systems, and schools, while at the same time holding all entities accountable for results. The Maryland State Department of Education spent more than a year working with the broad-based ESSA Stakeholder Committee, posting two on-line surveys and holding listening sessions throughout the State. The final plan is scheduled to be sent to the U.S. Department of Education for its approval next month, following its approval by the Maryland State Board of Education this week. More on ESSA can be found here:

Positive Trends in Graduation Continue

Maryland’s graduation rate remains at an all-time high, increasing again in 2017.

  • Maryland’s cohort graduation rate reached 87.61 percent in 2016–nearly 6 percentage points higher than the 81.97 rate registered in 2010.
  • At the same time, dropout rates have fallen to new lows, dropping to 7.97 percent in 2016. It was nearly 12 percent in 2010.
  • While gaps in graduation rates remain between student groups, the improvement in graduation has been across the board. African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and White student subgroups have all experienced improvement in graduation. African-American student graduation, for example, has jumped from 76.09 percent in 2010 to 84.06 percent in 2016.

Linking Students to Careers

Maryland continues to make the expansion of Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs a priority. For example:

  • New P-TECH schools are set to open in the 2017-18 school year in Prince George’s and Allegany County. This follows the opening of the first two Maryland P-TECH schools in Baltimore City last year, where 50 students are enrolled in programs at both Caver and Dunbar High Schools. IBM, Johns Hopkins University, Kaiser Permanente, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore City Community College and the State of Maryland have partnered to launch the P-TECH program. P-TECH schools create clear pathways from high school to college to career for young people from all academic backgrounds. Carver Vocational-Technical High School and Dunbar High School will be the first schools in the State to offer a six-year program to students that includes early college, CTE, and real world experience for students to prepare them for careers in the health and technology industries. Graduates of Maryland’s P-TECH–which stands for Pathways in Technology Early College High School–can earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree in a STEM field.
  • Frederick County this past May celebrated the success of six students who received certificates of completion for the first year of the “Apprenticeship Maryland” pilot program. Frederick is joined by Washington County Public School Systems in piloting the new program with the goal of expanding the model throughout the State. Apprenticeship Maryland is designed to prepare juniors and seniors to enter employment and further education in high-skill, high-growth sector Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) -related careers. Those fields include healthcare, biotechnology, information technology, construction and design, banking and finance, and advanced manufacturing. The students completed 450 hours of on-the-job instruction and one year of classroom-related instruction to receive their certificates.
  • MSDE’s Division of College and Career Readiness is working with local school systems to expand the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Launch Program to elementary schools. PLTW Launch dovetails with Project Lead the Way, a long-standing career-training program in Maryland schools. PLTW Launch allows local systems to offer an aligned K-12 STEM pathway where programs are offered through middle and high school. Somerset County, under Superintendent Dr. John Gaddis, was the first system in the State to offer PLTW Launch. Charles County, under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Hill, will implement PTLW Launch this fall. Northrop Grumman is partnering with Baltimore City’s Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle to implement Launch as well.

Expanding Biliteracy

Maryland in 2017 became the newest state to award a Seal of Biliteracy to graduates who had demonstrated high levels of proficiency in English and other world languages.

  • The seal — which becomes part of a student’s transcript — was awarded in Carroll, Cecil, Kent, Prince George’s, Montgomery, St. Mary’s, and Washington Counties. More counties are joining the effort.
  • The Maryland Seal of Biliteracy bill was approved by the Maryland General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan in 2016. This is part of a national initiative, with the Seal of Biliteracy now being awarded in 25 states and the District of Columbia.
  • For more information about the Maryland Seal of Biliteracy program, please visit

Charter Schools Hold Steady

There are no new charter schools scheduled to open this fall, but enrollment is on the rise.

  • There are 49 charter schools in Maryland — 33 in Baltimore City, 10 in Prince George’s County, three in Frederick County, two in Anne Arundel County and one in St. Mary’s County.
  • Maryland charter schools are projected to enroll 21,500 students in 2017-18.

Keeping Students Healthy

Maryland’s Department of Health is requiring new immunizations this year, and all Maryland schools are required to stock the anti-overdose drug, Naloxone.

  • All students entering kindergarten, first, second and third grade must have had two varicella vaccinations before the first day of school. All students entering seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth grades must have had one Tdap vaccination and one meningococcal (MCV4) vaccination before the first day of school. For more information, see the Department of Health’s immunization page:
  • All Maryland schools this fall are required to stock Naloxone — commonly known by its prescription name, Narcan — the overdose reversal medication. Staff are being trained in how to administer the drug, all thanks to the Start Talking Maryland Act. A new law, known as the Start Talking Maryland Act, also requires schools to begin instructing students in the dangers of drugs starting in grade three.

School Start Dates

Opening dates for Maryland’s school systems:

  • August 28 (today) – Garrett County
  • August 29 – Allegany County.
  • September 5 – All other Maryland Counties. along with the statewide SEED School

Please note that some individual schools and grades have different start dates. Check with your local school system for more information.

MSDE’s round-up of school openings and closings can be found here.