Baltimore students improve in reading, lag in math on national test

Baltimore's fourth- and eighth-graders posted significant gains in reading on a rigorous, national exam, but math scores declined and student achievement still lags significantly behind their counterparts around the state and nation. The city's results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress assessments, released Wednesday for students in the nation's large, urban districts, showed that the city's eighth-graders saw the most improvement, posting a 6 point average gain in reading, and the percentage of students reading at proficient levels rising to 16 percent. Fourth-graders reading scores rose by 4 points, with 14 percent reading at proficient levels this year. (Balt. Sun)

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National Labor College to close in 2014

The National Labor College, an education venture for working adults supported by the AFL-CIO, will close next year because of financial difficulties school officials attribute in part to the construction of a conference center several years ago on the Silver Spring campus. The college, with 599 online students this fall, announced Wednesday that its board of trustees voted this week to accept a closure plan. Word of the impending shutdown had been circulating since at least mid-November. (Wash. Post)

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Perkins proposes $1.04 billion operating budget for 2015

Around 75 teachers could be added to county public schools if interim superintendent Mamie J. Perkins' operating budget proposal becomes reality. Perkins presented her $1.04 billion spending plan, the largest in school history, to the Anne Arundel County Board of Education Wednesday. Her 2015 proposal, about 3.5 percent higher than the approved 2014 budget, also includes $18.7 million to pay for a 2-percent raise for employees. (Capital)

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Towson has raised enough funds to ensure baseball team's 2014 season

After scrambling to raise enough money to support the baseball team’s 2013 season, Towson has gathered the necessary funding to ensure the program’s 2014 campaign, athletic director Tim Leonard said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re happy to say that at this point, we’ve achieved our fundraising goal to qualify for the state funding matches,” he said, referring to the $200,000 needed. “We have some donors out there who are true champions of baseball and have really stepped up to make a difference, to ensure that we keep baseball around for a while." (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland works to make STEM awareness take root in high school

Students at Pikesville High School showed up for school on Tuesday and found themselves smack-dab in the middle of a statewide effort to bolster the state’s science and tech workforce. Representatives from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Food and Drug Administration, to name a few, stood at the head of classrooms in an effort to convince students of the real-world benefits of science, technology, engineering and math school work. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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Garrett County plan would avert school closings

The Garrett County Commissioners are offering the county school system $2.2 million to avert the threatened closure of three elementary schools. The Cumberland Times-News reports that the commissioners agreed Tuesday give the school board the money subject to two conditions. One is that it drops any plan to close schools in next school year. The schools also would have to continue participating in a retiree health insurance plan that also covers workers from county government and Garrett College. (Capital)

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Howard school board delays implementing new retiree Medicare

Retirees in the Howard County Public School System will be able to stay under their old Medicare insurance plans, after the Board of Education unanimously voted Tuesday to suspend the implementation of the United Healthcare Medicare Advantage plan for one year. The new insurance was set to take effect Jan. 1, 2014 for Medicare-eligible retirees, but concerns were raised that United Healthcare was not accepted at local medical systems like Howard County General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Hospital or University of Maryland Medical Center. (Balt. Sun)

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College campuses help centralize veteran services

Montgomery County is looking to its public colleges to link to military veteran services, on and off their campuses. The schools already have veterans in mind: Montgomery College serves student veterans in its Combat to College Program and the Universities at Shady Grove campus has made several changes to its veteran services this fall. A new initiative aims to centralize services available throughout the county under one umbrella and use schools as access points for veterans looking for mental-health counseling, help obtaining benefits or academic advice. (Gazette)

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