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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the January 24, 2011 Special Meeting and the January 25, 2011 Regular Meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
January 14, 2011

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's offices at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden. The meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. (coffee will be available at 8) and will adjourn by 1 p.m. The Board will also have a special meeting at the same location on Monday, January 24, 2011, from 5-7 p.m. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call JC Considine at (781) 338-3112.


The Board's special meeting on Monday evening is an opportunity to discuss education of English language learners with Department staff, the Board's advisory council, and the Teacher of the Year. No votes will be taken. The regular meeting on Tuesday leads off with a recap of the Monday evening meeting, followed by discussion of the revision process for the Science and Technology/Engineering curriculum framework. We will update the Board on our work with school districts and other organizations to implement the state law on bullying prevention and intervention. Several charter school items are on the agenda including votes on two charter renewals and conditions met at a third charter school. The Board committee on charter schools will report to the Board and I will present information on the new charter applicants. We will also review findings of a report on the impact of charter middle and high schools. The Board will discuss and vote on the areas of focus and long-term goals in our strategic initiatives for FY2011 and will get an update on the ongoing work on educator evaluation. Professor Tom Kane of Harvard University will join us to discuss his work on measures of effective teaching as well as on his study of charter middle and high schools.

Special Meeting

The Board's special meetings are an opportunity to learn about and discuss educational issues in more depth than is possible at the regular business meetings. Our topic on January 24th is English Language Learners: Background, Policy Issues, and Initiatives. Esta Montano, who heads the Department's Office of English Language Acquisition and Academic Achievement, will present an overview. We will have the benefit of commentary from the Board's Advisory Council on English Language Learners and the 2010-2011 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Floris Wilma Ortiz-Marrero, an ELL teacher from Amherst Regional Middle School. Materials will be distributed at the meeting, and there will be ample opportunity for questions and discussion by the Board on this important topic.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair
Comments from the Commissioner
Comments from the Secretary

Chair Banta, Secretary Reville, and I will each update the Board on current issues and activities.

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. English Language Learners: Background, Policy Issues, and Initiatives - Continuing Discussion

    We will recap the discussion from Monday's special meeting and review next steps.

  2. Update on Revision Process for Massachusetts Curriculum Framework in Science and Technology/Engineering - Discussion

    The Board's adoption in December 2010 of the new Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for English Language Arts and Literacy and for Mathematics, incorporating the Common Core State Standards, is a major milestone for the Commonwealth. At this month's meeting, Deputy Commissioner Jeff Nellhaus and other Department staff will update the Board on another aspect of our state curriculum effort: the revision process for the Curriculum Framework in Science and Technology/Engineering.

  3. Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Progress Report on Work with School Districts and Other Organizations - Discussion

    At the September 2010 meeting, the Board approved regulations relating to the notification requirements under the state law on bullying prevention and intervention. In doing so, the Board directed the Commissioner to work with interested organizations to develop guidance for schools on the implementation of these notification requirements, in light of the public comments concerning vulnerable populations of students. Per the Board's vote, we are reporting back on these activities at this month's meeting. Associate Commissioner John Bynoe and staff will also summarize the Department's initiatives with school districts and other interested parties in connection with the bullying prevention and intervention law.

Charter Schools:
  1. Charter Renewals Proposed for Two Charter Schools - Discussion and Vote
    1. Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School of Excellence
    2. Seven Hills Charter School

    This month the Board will discuss and vote on charter renewals for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School of Excellence, located in Springfield, and Seven Hills Charter School, located in Worcester. I recommend that the Board place the Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School of Excellence on probation and renew the charter with the conditions described in the memo under Tab 4. I will send the Board my recommendation on renewal of the charter for Seven Hills Charter School after I visit the school during the week of January 17th.

  2. Report on Conditions: North Central Charter Essential School - Discussion and Vote

    In February 2007, the Board renewed the charter of North Central Charter Essential School, a regional Commonwealth charter school located in Fitchburg, with four conditions regarding academic performance and leadership structure. As of February 2009, the school met all the conditions except one related to academic performance, and the Board voted to extend that condition. Now that the school has met this last condition, I recommend that the Board vote to eliminate the remaining condition on the charter.

  3. Report from Board Committee on Charter Schools - Discussion

    Gerald Chertavian, chair of the Board's committee on charter schools, will report to the Board on the committee's work to date.

  4. Information on New Charter Applicants - Initial Discussion

    By statute, the Board votes on the approval on new charter schools at its February meeting. The Department received 23 final applications, representing 16 separate applicant groups, by the November 8, 2010, application deadline. This month we have included in your materials an overview of the process for reviewing and granting new charters and a summary of the charter applications that are pending.

  5. Statewide Findings on Impact of Charter Middle and High Schools - Discussion

    Tom Kane is Professor of Education and Economics at Harvard Graduate School of Education and deputy director of education for the U.S. program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. At Harvard, Professor Kane is faculty director of the Center for Education Policy Research, which has conducted several studies on the academic impact of Massachusetts charter schools. At Gates, Professor Kane is the director of the Measures of Effective Teaching Project. We are pleased that he can join us at the January 25th Board meeting to discuss findings from these studies.

Continuing Discussion and Action:
  1. Selected Strategic Initiatives for FY2011 - Continuing Discussion and Vote on Areas of Focus and Long-term Goals

    At the November 2010 planning retreat, the Board asked me to outline selected strategic initiatives for FY2011 in the five focus areas that the Board identified: educator effectiveness; curriculum, instruction, and assessment; accountability and assistance; wrap-around supports and engagement for students and families; and school and classroom culture. At the December Board meeting we reviewed the strategic initiatives. Based on the discussion last month, we have made some refinements to the document. I am presenting it to the Board this month for your vote to endorse the areas of focus and long-term goals.

  2. Update on Educator Evaluation, including Presentation by Professor Tom Kane on Emerging Findings from Measures of Effective Teaching Study - Discussion

    As we have done at the last several Board meetings, I will update the Board on the work of the Task Force on Educator Evaluation that the Board established in May 2010. This is a major initiative for the Board and the entire education community. Deputy Commissioner Karla Brooks Baehr and Associate Commissioner David Haselkorn will be at the January 25th meeting to respond to your questions. We will also have the benefit of perspective from Professor Tom Kane on emerging findings from the study he is leading for the Gates Foundation, Measures of Effective Teaching.

Other Items for Information

  1. Education-Related News Clippings

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

  2. Report on Grants and Charter School Matters Approved by the Commissioner

    I did not approve any grants in December under authority delegated by the Board. I did approve the renewal of two charters, for Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School and Codman Academy Charter Public School, in accordance with the Board's September 2009 delegation of authority to the Commissioner. Under Tab 12 is a report on these charter renewals.

  3. Model Policy on Re-enrollment of Students Leaving Commonwealth Charter Schools

    Enclosed under Tab 13, for your information, is the model policy on re-enrollment of students leaving Commonwealth charter schools. The model policy, which the Department developed in consultation with charter school and district school representatives, is required by Section 11 of Chapter 12 of the Acts of 2010.

  4. Report to Legislature on Use of Growth Model

    Section 14 of Chapter 12 of the Acts of 2010 directs the Commissioner to report to the Legislature on the Department's use of improvement in student academic achievement data to identify underperforming schools, as well as plans to include this measure as one factor for identifying Level 4 (underperforming) and Level 5 (chronically underperforming) schools and districts for the 2011-2012 school year. A copy of the report is enclosed under Tab 14 for your information.

  5. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Annual Report FY2010

    The annual report for FY2010 includes key data and chronicles the major decisions and actions of the Board from July 2009-June 2010. It is an impressive record of some of our accomplishments in service to the students of Massachusetts. We plan to distribute copies to the Governor and the Legislature and post the report on our website.

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the Department on January 24th and 25th.

Last Updated: January 19, 2011
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