Op-Ed by Secretary James
E. Lyons, Sr.
State working to prepare students in math
In response to "A failing grade
for Md. Math" (July 12), readers should be informed of what the education
community in Maryland is doing to address the issue of mathematics education
and, more broadly, to prepare students for college and the workplace.
Maryland has been working closely with Achieve, a nonprofit organization in
Washington that is helping to lead the development of rigorous common
national standards. Working with Achieve and other states, Maryland K-12 and
higher education partners have participated in developing new Algebra II and
English language-arts standards. As the Abell Foundation report referenced
by reporter Liz Bowie notes, Maryland's Algebra II Voluntary State
Curriculum was recently approved; so was the secondary English curriculum.
As these new, more rigorous curricula are implemented statewide (and,
potentially, as students are measured by assessments used in multiple
states), we anticipate that students will be better prepared for
college-level courses and that the need for remediation should decline.
Students can immediately improve their chances for success in college
mathematics by taking rigorous mathematics in their senior year of high
school. Both two- and four-year faculty have described to me the detrimental
effect that skipping a year of mathematics can have on students' college
performance. Students who were successful in high school college-preparatory
mathematics arrive in college having forgotten necessary skills.
To address our education needs more broadly, in 2007 Gov. Martin O'Malley
created the P-20 Leadership Council. The council, comprising education,
business and child development leaders throughout the state, is tasked with
coordinating efforts in education, workforce creation and business to ensure
Maryland offers excellence in teaching and learning.
A P-20 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Task Force
will offer its recommendations later this month. In May, Mr. O'Malley
endorsed convening a College Success Task Force, which I co-chair with
Maryland State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and whose membership
includes educators, legislators and business leaders.
The College Success Task Force is examining Maryland prekindergarten-12 and
higher education policies and practices pertaining to college readiness and
college success. We are paying special attention to the areas of
mathematics, reading and writing, with the goal of making recommendations
for new practices to raise standards and ensure that completion requirements
at the 12th grade are aligned with entrance expectations for postsecondary
Remediation in colleges is not a problem that is unique to Maryland, nor is
its solution solely within higher education or in our public schools.
Educators and families need to counsel our young people that mathematics,
and indeed education, are more important than ever. We live in a more
technologically dependent culture, and mathematics is needed in more careers
than ever before, including those that do not require a bachelor's degree.
This is a shift we are all responsible for communicating. James E. Lyons
The writer is Maryland's secretary of higher education.
Originally printed in the
Baltimore Sun, July 17, 2009
The Maryland Higher Education Commission is a 12-member
coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide
policies for Maryland public and independent colleges and
universities and private career schools. It serves as an
advocate for more than 337,000 college students in Maryland,
for the State and its needs, and for business and industry