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Briefing for the January 28, 2013 Special Meeting and the January 29, 2013 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 18, 2013

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, January 29, 2013, at Bridgewater State University (Rondileau Campus Center, large ballroom). Board members are invited to arrive at 8 a.m. for coffee and to meet members of the Board of Higher Education, with whom we will be meeting in joint session starting at 8:30 a.m. When the joint meeting concludes at 9:45 a.m., we will continue with our regular business meeting, which we will aim to adjourn by 1 p.m., although members should be prepared to stay a bit later, given the length of the agenda, including the joint meeting. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will also hold a special meeting on Monday, January 28, 2013, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Malden, 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.


This month we will welcome Dr. Matthew Malone, the new Secretary of Education, as a member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The special meeting on Monday evening will focus on our joint initiatives with the Department of Higher Education to promote college and career readiness. Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland and several colleagues from the Department of Higher Education will join us.

On Tuesday morning, Bridgewater State University president Dana Mohler-Faria, formerly a member of our Board, will welcome us to the campus. We will convene at 8:30 a.m. in a joint meeting with the Board of Higher Education and Commissioner Freeland to continue the discussion of college and career readiness for about an hour. The Board of Higher Education will then move to another room to hold their business meeting and we will remain in the campus center ballroom to take up eight additional items for discussion and action on our regular meeting agenda: regulations on educational collaboratives, amendments to the innovation schools regulations, the new state law on virtual schools, an update on the state education budget, and several charter school matters.

Special Meeting

  1. Progress Report on Joint Initiatives with Higher Education to Promote College and Career Readiness - Initial Discussion

    At the special meeting of the Board on Monday evening, January 28, Commissioner Freeland and I will provide an overview of the joint initiatives we have undertaken to promote college and career readiness. This is an important topic and a great opportunity to create a common understanding of college and career readiness and a seamless system from pre-kindergarten through higher education and the workplace, for the benefit of all students. I look forward to a productive and engaging discussion with the Board. No votes will be taken. Vice-Chair Beverly Holmes will chair the special meeting since Chair Banta is out of town on January 28.

Regular Meeting

Joint Meeting with Board of Higher Education, 8:30-9:45 a.m.

  1. Progress Report on Initiatives to Promote College and Career Readiness - Joint Discussion by Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Board of Higher Education

    We will convene on Tuesday morning in a joint session with the Board of Higher Education to continue the discussion of initiatives to promote college and career readiness. Commissioner Freeland and I have worked to develop an integrated college and career readiness agenda that could be embraced by both of our boards. We will discuss the proposed common definition of college and career readiness as well as some next steps, including possible adoption of the definition by each board at a future meeting.

At approximately 9:45 a.m., we will conclude the joint meeting and take up the rest of the items on our regular meeting agenda:

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and activities. She will invite the chairs of the Board's committee on the proficiency gap (Harneen Chernow) and charter schools (Beverly Holmes) to report on the work of the committees.

Comments from the Commissioner

  • New law on background checks. At the end of the 2012 legislative session, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law two significant bills relating to elementary and secondary education. The new law on virtual schools is item 4 on our agenda at this meeting. The other law, An Act Relative to Background Checks, closes an existing criminal history background checks loophole by authorizing school districts to conduct fingerprint-supported national criminal history background checks on all teachers, school employees, bus drivers, and subcontractors who perform work on school grounds. The Department of Early Education and Care will have similar authority with respect to early education providers. Rep. Alice Peisch, Education Committee Co-Chair, sponsored the legislation.

    Our Department will have access to the results of state and federal criminal record checks in connection with licensure issues and investigations of alleged misconduct by educators. All newly hired teachers, school employees, bus drivers, subcontractors and early education and care and out-of-school time providers must undergo state and national background checks by the start of the 2013-2014 school year. All current employees must undergo national background checks over the next three years, by the start of the 2016-2017 school year. I will present more information to the Board, including proposed regulations to implement the new background checks law, at a future meeting.

  • 2012 graduation rate and dropout rate reports. Next week, the Department will publicly release the 2012 cohort graduation rate and annual dropout rate reports. Included in these reports will be the four-year cohort graduation rate for the 2012 cohort, the five-year cohort graduation rate for the 2011 cohort, and the 2011-2012 annual dropout rate for the state, districts, and individual high schools. I will send you the data as soon as we release it, and provide an update at the January 29 meeting.

  • RETELL initiative. In February we will launch the Sheltered English Immersion course for educators that is a key component of our RETELL (Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners) initiative. I will update the Board at our meeting.

  • School safety. We continue to reach out to school officials and other agencies to address school safety and security concerns in the wake of the recent tragedy in Newtown, CT. I will update the Board at the January 29 meeting.

Comments from the Secretary

Secretary Malone will brief the Board on current issues and activities.

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Regulations on Educational Collaboratives, 603 CMR 50.00 - Discussion and Vote

    At the September 25, 2012 meeting, the Board voted to solicit public comment on the proposed regulations on educational collaboratives. These new regulations cover a range of topics outlined in the most recent amendment to the statute authorizing educational collaboratives, which took effect in March 2012. The law makes sweeping changes in the operation and accountability of educational collaboratives and requires the Department, among other things, to provide training for collaborative board members, develop a model collaborative agreement, collect and review collaborative annual reports and independent audit reports, and establish regulations to clarify the new law. Under separate cover next week, you will receive the materials for Tab 2, which will include a summary of the comments we received on the proposed regulations during the public comment period and an explanation of the changes we made in response to them. I will make a recommendation that the Board vote to adopt the regulations at the January 29 meeting.

  2. Amendments to Regulations on Innovation Schools, 603 CMR 48.00 - Discussion and Vote

    The Innovation Schools initiative, authorized under the 2010 Act Relative to the Achievement Gap, gives educators and other stakeholders the opportunity to create schools with increased autonomy and flexibility while keeping school funding within districts. The Executive Office of Education (EOE) has been actively engaged with Innovation Schools, working with staff from our Department. In 2010 the Board adopted Regulations on Innovation Schools. In November 2012, the Board voted to solicit public comment on proposed amendments that would clarify a few provisions in the regulations. As is explained in the memo under Tab 3, we received only one comment on the proposed regulations, raising an issue that will be addressed in a guidance document. I recommend that the Board vote this month to adopt the regulations as presented. Bridget Rodriguez and Jim DiTullio of EOE and Cliff Chuang of our Department will be present at the January 29 meeting to answer your questions.

  3. Virtual Schools: Report on New Legislation and Proposed Delegation of Authority to Commissioner - Discussion and Vote

    On January 2, Governor Patrick signed into law Chapter 379 of the Acts of 2012, "An Act Establishing Commonwealth Virtual Schools." The new law is responsive to the position the Board adopted in 2011: that there should be a stronger oversight and consumer protection role for the state than the one provided by the innovation school statute. The memo under Tab 4 provides an overview of the new law and the steps we are taking to implement it. Because the law took effect immediately upon signing and we are already halfway through the school year, I am recommending that the Board authorize me to issue requests for proposals to open a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual School and to evaluate all responses received, so that I can present recommendations to the Board this spring for issuance of certificates to establish Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual Schools. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, Senior Associate Commissioner Bob Bickerton, Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang, and Luis Rodriguez, Director of our Office of Digital Learning, will be present at the meeting on January 29 to respond to your questions.

  4. Update on State Education Budget - Discussion

    We expect to receive the Governor's House 1 education budget proposal for FY2014 on January 23 and will distribute it to the Board. At our meeting on January 29 we will discuss the House 1 proposal and next steps in the budget process.

Charter Schools:

  1. New Leadership Charter School: Report on Probation and Commissioner's Recommendation on Charter Renewal - Discussion and Vote

    New Leadership Charter School is a 15-year-old Horace Mann charter school in Springfield that is up for renewal this year. At our January 29 meeting, I will update the Board on the school's progress and next steps. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang, and members of the Department's Charter School Office staff will join us for the discussion of this matter and the other charter school items on our agenda.

  2. Report on Conditions or Probation: Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School of Excellence, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School, Seven Hills Charter Public School - Discussion and Vote

    At our January 29 meeting I am presenting an update on the progress achieved by three charter schools in response to the conditions (or probation and conditions) that the Board required the schools to meet. The memos and reports under Tab 7 present the information on each school. For the reasons set forth in the memos, I recommend that the Board vote to impose updated conditions on each of these schools.

  3. Major Amendments Proposed for Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School, Christa McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School, Foxborough Regional Charter School, and Rising Tide Charter Public School - Discussion and Vote

    Pursuant to the Charter School Regulations, 603 CMR 1.11(1), the Board must approve major changes in the material terms of a school's charter. This month I am recommending that the Board approve major amendment requests from four charter schools. The details on each school's request, and my recommendations, are presented in the materials under Tab 8.

  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 22 prospectuses in August 2012 - one for a Horace Mann charter school and 21 for Commonwealth charter schools. Based upon the review of these prospectuses by the Department's staff and external reviewers, I invited the founding groups for 12 of the applications to submit final applications. One applicant group withdrew from the process, and 11 final applications were filed by the November 14, 2012 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.

Other Items for Information

  1. Progress Report on Level 4 Districts

    Under Tab 10 we have provided a progress report on seven Level 4 districts: Fall River, Gill-Montague, Holyoke, New Bedford, Randolph, Salem, and Southbridge. The memorandum provides a high level view of each district's improvement focus and trajectory.

  2. Race to the Top: Year Two Report for Massachusetts

    Enclosed is the Year Two Race to the Top report on Massachusetts. The report highlights successes and accomplishments, identifies challenges, and provides lessons learned from implementation to date.

  3. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Annual Report for FY2012

    The annual report for FY2012 includes key data and chronicles the major decisions and actions of the Board from July 2011-June 2012. 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.

  4. Report on Expanded Learning Time

    In response to a question at last month's meeting, enclosed under Tab 13 is the FY2012 report on expanded learning time grants, supplemented by some preliminary data on current year grants. We can plan a presentation and discussion on the expanded learning time initiative at a future Board meeting.

  5. Education-Related News Clippings

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

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

    Under Tab 15 you will find my report on grants and charter school matters that I approved since the last Board meeting, under the authority that the Board has delegated to me.

  7. Directions

    If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the Department on January 28 and at Bridgewater State University on January 29.

Last Updated: January 25, 2013
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