The Maryland Board of Education has announced that Carey Wright, who served as the state superintendent of education in Mississippi from 2013 to 2020, will take over as the interim state superintendent of public schools in Maryland. Wright will replace Mohammed Choudhury, who resigned from his position after less than three months on the job. Wright is expected to start her new role on October 23, while Choudhury will become a senior adviser for the state board.
Wright’s achievements in Mississippi
Wright is widely credited for improving student achievement and literacy in Mississippi, which ranked last in the nation in reading and math scores when she took over as the state superintendent. Under her leadership, Mississippi became one of the fastest-improving states in the country, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card. In 2019, Mississippi was the only state to show significant gains in both fourth-grade reading and math, and also outperformed the national average in eighth-grade reading.
Wright also implemented several initiatives to boost teacher quality and retention, such as raising teacher salaries, expanding professional development opportunities, and creating a teacher residency program. She also championed the adoption of higher academic standards, a more rigorous accountability system, and a comprehensive literacy plan that included mandatory third-grade reading tests and intensive interventions for struggling readers.
Wright retired from her position in Mississippi in December 2020, after serving the longest tenure of any state superintendent since the state board was created in 1982. She also served as a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policies for NAEP, from 2017 to 2021.
Wright’s connection to Maryland
Wright has roots in Maryland, where she began her teaching career in the 1970s at Prince George’s County Public Schools. She later worked as an assistant superintendent in Montgomery County Public Schools and as a chief academic officer in the District of Columbia Public Schools. She also held leadership positions in school districts in Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey before moving to Mississippi.
Wright said she is honored and excited to return to Maryland and lead the state’s public education system during a critical time of recovery and reform. She said she looks forward to working with the state board, local school officials, educators, parents, students, and stakeholders to ensure that all children have access to high-quality instruction and opportunities.
Wright’s challenges and opportunities in Maryland
Wright will face several challenges and opportunities as the interim state superintendent of public schools in Maryland. One of her main tasks will be to oversee the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a landmark education reform plan that aims to transform the state’s public schools into a world-class system. The plan, which was passed by the legislature in 2020 and approved by voters in 2021, calls for increased funding, expanded pre-kindergarten programs, enhanced teacher recruitment and retention, more support for students with special needs, and greater accountability and governance.
Another priority for Wright will be to address the learning loss and achievement gaps that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wright will have to work with local school districts to ensure that they follow the health and safety guidelines issued by the state and federal authorities, as well as provide academic and social-emotional support for students and staff. Wright will also have to deal with the ongoing controversies over standardized testing, curriculum standards, school discipline, and equity issues that have divided some communities and stakeholders.
Wright will serve as the interim state superintendent until June 30, 2022, while the state board conducts a national search for a permanent leader. The state board president Clarence Crawford said that Wright’s experience and expertise make her an ideal candidate for the interim role. He said that Wright is a consensus builder who has proven her ability to work with diverse groups of people and achieve positive results for students.