Program Encouraging Rigorous Coursework Has Contributed to Remarkable Results Among Low-Income, Minority Students
The Maryland Business Roundtable for Education (MBRT) is pleased to announce Maryland Scholars, a program with a proven track record for increasing the number of high school students who take - and complete - rigorous coursework, will be offered this fall in St. Mary's County.
Maryland Scholars was piloted by MBRT in Frederick and Harford counties in 2004. In partnership with local district efforts, the program has achieved remarkable results, particularly among low-income and minority students, according to MBRT Executive Director June Streckfus.
"The Maryland Scholars course of study - which includes four credits of English, three credits each of math, lab sciences, and social studies, and two credits of the same foreign language - demonstrates that encouraging students to take ownership of their learning can help them to close the preparation gap between high school and the workplace or college," says Streckfus.
Maryland Scholars is also supported by a Speakers Bureau of 2000 volunteers, a teen career website (www.bewhatiwanttobe.com <http://www.bewhatiwanttobe.com/>; ), and Parents Count webpage providing parents with information on how to help children succeed in school (www.mbrt.org/parents).
Through MBRT's Speakers Bureau, 2,000 volunteers from hundreds of businesses statewide will be visiting high school classrooms to urge students to work hard and to take rigorous coursework. In St. Mary's County, Maryland Scholars volunteers will be going into three high schools (Chopticon High, Great Mills High, Leonardtown High) speaking to approximately 1,650 ninth grade students.
In Frederick County, the introduction of Maryland Scholars resulted in 55 percent more students living in poverty to complete Algebra I by ninth grade. Frederick County also saw 57 percent more African-American students completing Chemistry, while 80 percent more Hispanic students completed a fourth science credit.
Harford County, the other pilot county, produced similarly strong results. Forty-eight percent more Harford County students living in poverty completed Algebra I by ninth grade. Low-income students completing Chemistry and a fourth science credit increased 88 percent and 230 percent, respectively.
According to MBRT, increasing the number of students taking rigorous courses positively impacts postsecondary success, regardless of whether students go on to college or directly into the workplace.
Research has shown that many high school graduates in Maryland and nationally are not prepared for college or entry-level jobs. In Maryland, MBRT's own workforce survey has shown that employers have been dissatisfied with recent graduates' writing, math, and problem-solving skills, as well as their work ethic. Colleges, meanwhile, report that more than half of new students are not adequately prepared to do college-level work and must take remedial coursework.
"Changing the equation by creating an atmosphere of access to rigorous coursework and providing students with credible reasons why they should work hard in high school, as well as a vision of what is possible for them if they do, have contributed to the success of Maryland Scholars," Streckfus explains.
The record of success produced by Maryland Scholars in Frederick and Harford counties was strong enough to convince MBRT's Board of Directors to vote to make the program available in all Maryland school districts this fall.
Drawing high praise from educators, businesses, parents, and students, both locally and nationally, the program has been awarded the prestigious Silver Anvil Award by the Public Relations Society of America. Supporting such accolades, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick calls the Maryland Scholars initiative, "one of the best conceived and most successful programs I have seen in my career in education."
For more information about Maryland Scholars, visit www.mbrt.org, contact MBRT at 410-727-0448.
MBRT is a coalition of 100 major Maryland employers committed to improving student achievement in the state.