[Baltimore Sun] Carey Wright appointed Maryland schools superintendent after serving as interim

Read Time:4 Minute, 11 Second

The Maryland State Board of Education appointed Carey Wright on Wednesday to lead the state education department.

The state board tapped Wright to be the interim state superintendent of schools in October after the former superintendent stepped down before his term ended. Wright, who’s made significant changes in six months, said she wanted to hold the role from the start.

Her four-year contract will begin on July 1 with an annual salary of $360,500.

The board hired a search firm to collect feedback and recruit candidates nationwide, 26 of whom applied. Wright is the person to meet an urgent moment in Maryland, said Josh Michael, vice president of the board and search committee chair, said in a statement.

Wright taught and led Maryland schools for decades before becoming a former Mississippi state superintendent. Michael, during a special board meeting Wednesday evening, emphasized Wright is one of the top education leaders in the nation with extensive experience in Maryland.

The 12-person board unanimously approved her appointment with one member absent. Members said they were “ecstatic” about the appointment.

“Growing up in Maryland and spending the majority of my career in Maryland, I knew how good our schools were. And I also know how much better we can be,” Wright said at Wednesday’s meeting. “I’m energized by this work because this is work that I love and I am committed to doing everything that I can possibly do to improve outcomes for our children.”

The state superintendent leads the education department and oversees Maryland’s 1,400 public schools in 24 school districts and 7,000 child care providers.

The superintendent is also tasked with implementing the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which funnels billions of dollars to make sweeping changes to public education. Programs and costs are ramping up as the 10-year law reaches its third year of implementation.

The law seeks to improve education for all students in Maryland. The state’s national ranking dropped from 24th on the fourth grade exam in 2015 to 40th in 2022. It fell from 18th on the eighth grade exam to 25th during the same period.

Wright is credited for dramatically boosting Mississippi’s math and literacy scores when she led the education department in one of the country’s poorest states for nine years.

Students, including low-income and students of color, saw large gains in fourth and eighth grade test scores, propelling Mississippi’s ranking from the lowest in the country to meet and rise above the national average.

Wright retired as Mississippi’s longest-serving superintendent in 2022 and moved back home to Baltimore County. She previously taught public school in Prince George’s and Howard counties. She was a director of special education and a principal in Howard County, an associate superintendent for special education in Montgomery County, and a chief academic officer in Washington, D.C. public schools.

She received undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees in education from the University of Maryland.

Wright faces immediate and looming challenges to the Blueprint, including local school districts’ fiscal constraints, getting private child care providers to participate in a universal prekindergarten program and ironing out metrics that determine students’ preparedness for college or a career.

In her interim capacity, Wright applied some of Mississippi’s successful policies in Maryland, one of the wealthiest states with a massive influx in funding. She required all school districts’ literacy instruction to follow the science of reading, a research-based practice emphasizing phonics — how letters and syllables correspond to sounds.

She set a lofty goal of Maryland ranking in the top 10 states in fourth and eighth grade reading exams by 2027.

Chuen-Chin Bianca Chang, Maryland State Board of Education member, poses a question to the students. seated next to her is Interim State Superintendent of Schools Carey Wright.  (Jeffrey F. Bill/Staff photo)

Wright recruited Mississippi colleagues to join her in Maryland, such as Tenette Smith, who led elementary reading in Mississippi and now oversees the science of reading instruction in Maryland. Wright sent teams of literacy experts to local school districts to examine elementary instruction and help prepare students to read proficiently.

Accountability and transparency are among priorities for Wright, who has questioned how 76% of schools earned three out of five stars on the Maryland Report Card but only 47% of Maryland third and eighth grade students scored proficient on state literacy exams in 2023. She created an accountability task force to examine how schools and districts share assessment data.

So far, the state board and education department have appeared to have a smoother relationship with the Accountability & Implementation Board under Wright’s leadership than her predecessor, Mohammed Choudhury. The powerful board holds the state and local agencies accountable for implementing the Blueprint.

“We have an opportunity here to support our excellent schools and also to make them the envy of the nation,” Wright said. “And I am committed and determined to make Maryland the education destination.”

Read More 

About Post Author

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %