State leaders approved new goals for Maryland schools to ensure that the additional funding pumped into education will pay benefits over the next decade.

Maryland State Superintendent Carey Wright said the targets are ambitious, particularly in mathematics, where the proficiency rate is at 23%. “If you don’t set ambitious goals, you’re never going to reach them,” Wright said. “And I honestly believe that our districts are primed to really take on this work and do it well.”

The Maryland State Board of Education and Accountability and Implementation Board voted on the targets at its meeting Tuesday. The AIB oversees the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a landmark law to overhaul the state’s public schools with $3.9 billion more in spending annually by later this decade.

Maryland State Board of Education Vice President Josh Michael said the targets for student achievement, attendance and the teacher workforce represent “the best thinking ... on what progress looks like in the medium term in public schools.”

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If schools miss the targets, he said, state leaders should consider rethinking their strategies for improving schools in order to maintain the state funding.

More goals will be added in the coming months. Each school system will be asked to increase its current goals by the percentage in the statewide target. For instance, if the state target requires a 10 percentage point increase, then the school district will be required to do the same. So a high-performing school system that has already met the state target will still have to improve.

The targets include:

See Maryland ranked in the top 10 states for education nationally. Leaders want Maryland to score among the best states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card, by 2027. The state is currently ranked in the bottom 50 percent of states on reading and math tests.

Raise pass rates on state English Language Arts tests by 15 percentage points. By the 2025-2026 school year, the goal is to raise third-grade pass rates from 48% to 63%, and 48% to 63% in grades three through eight.

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Dramatically raise pass rates on state math tests. State leaders want to see fifth grade students passing the state math test rise from 27% to 46% in 2025-2026.

Hire more diverse teachers, and stop so many teachers from leaving. In the 2025-2026 school year, state leaders expect 55% of newly hired teachers to be people of color. They also want to see 78% of teachers retained by 2026-2027.

Cut the percentage of students who are chronically absent in half. The goal is to take the chronic absence rate from 30% to 15% by the 2025-2026 school year. Students are chronically absent when they miss 18 or more school days a year.

About the Education Hub

This reporting is part of The Banner’s Education Hub, community-funded journalism that provides parents with resources they need to make decisions about how their children learn. Read more.