Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Go to Selected Program Area
Massachusetts State Seal
Students & Families Educators & Administrators Teaching, Learning & Testing Data & Accountability Finance & Funding About the Department Education Board  

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the June 23, 2015 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
June 12, 2015

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, June 23, 2015, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's offices at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden. The regular meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. (coffee will be available at 8 a.m.) and should adjourn by 1 p.m.

Instead of a special meeting this month, the Board will hold a PARCC forum (the fourth of five that we have scheduled through July) from 4-7 p.m. on Monday, June 22, 2015, at North Shore Community College in Lynn. All Board members are welcome to attend the PARCC forum. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call Helene Bettencourt at (781) 338-3120.


The first item on the business agenda for our regular meeting on Tuesday morning is a report from Vice-Chair David Roach on behalf of the Board's Working Group on Civic Learning. Lawrence Receiver Jeff Riley will present the progress report on the third year of receivership of the Lawrence Public Schools. The Board will get an update on the Holyoke Public Schools and will hear from Stephen Zrike, who assumes the position of Receiver in Holyoke on July 6. We will present end-of-year reports on the four Level 5 schools. The Board will discuss and vote on the report of the Committee on the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation. The Board also will vote on the regulations creating an autism endorsement for educator licensure, the usual summer delegation of authority, and the schedule for our regular meetings in FY2016. Other items on the agenda for discussion include the latest information on the FY2016 state education budget, the breakfast in the classroom initiative, the new metric for defining low-income status for K-12 education data, and the monthly update on PARCC.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Sagan will report on current issues and activities, including the June 22 PARCC forum. The Board congratulates Donald Willyard, who has been re-elected as chair of the State Student Advisory Council and continues as a member of the Board through June 2016.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and other honored teachers. On June 11, the 2016 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Audrey H. Jackson, a fifth-grade teacher at the Joseph P. Manning School in Boston, was honored in a ceremony at the State House, along with finalists and semifinalists for the award. Also recognized at the event were the 2015 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year, the 2014 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching finalists, and the 2014 Milken Family Foundation National Educator. Details are in the press release. In addition, I am pleased to announce that two Massachusetts teachers were awarded TNTP's 2015 Fishman Prize, which honors extraordinary teachers from high-poverty public schools. All of these honorees exemplify the dedication and high quality of so many educators throughout the Commonwealth. I look forward to introducing the Teacher of the Year to the Board at a future meeting.

  2. Massachusetts State Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators. On June 1, the Department submitted the State Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators (Equity Plan) to the U.S. Department of Education. As presented in the federal Excellent Educators for All initiative, announced in July 2014, every state education agency is required to submit an Equity Plan in accordance with Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA/NCLB), which directs states to take steps to ensure that "poor and minority children are not taught at higher rates than other children by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers." In developing the Equity Plan, Department staff engaged a variety of stakeholder groups, examined student and educator data, determined root causes of equity gaps, and identified resources and strategies to promote equitable access. The plan highlights new and ongoing work we are doing to address gaps in access to experienced, prepared, effective teachers and principals. We will post the Equity Plan on the Department's website and over the coming years will monitor and report on progress.

  3. DESE Spring Convening: Building Momentum, Sharing Success. On May 27 and 28, the Department brought together over 800 educators from about 200 districts across the Commonwealth for our spring conference on initiatives to strengthen teaching and learning. Participants included teachers, school administrators, district leaders, statewide association leaders, and representatives from educator preparation programs. Deputy Commissioner Alan Ingram and I provided opening remarks along with a panel of educators who shared how educator effectiveness initiatives have expanded opportunities for faculty and students. The day included breakout sessions led by district presenters, reviewing specific strategies for supporting educators' growth and development across the career continuum, including effective data use, teacher leadership and collaboration, using common assessments in educator evaluation, and introducing the Department's "What to Look For" observational tools highlighting core content and instructional practices. Additional sessions highlighted our model surveys for collecting student feedback, the 2015 guidelines for induction and mentoring programs, and other topics. Initial feedback from the convening was very positive. We are conducting a formal evaluation, and results will be available later this summer.

  4. Charter school opportunities. For the 2015-2016 charter application and expansion cycle, the Department will accept charter applications and charter amendments for all school districts except Lawrence, Malden, and Somerville, which are at the limit established by statute. Estimates of seats available in Boston and all other districts are listed in this file Download Excel Document. The Department is projecting there will be approximately 668 additional seats available in Boston under the net school spending charter cap. Applicants who wish to start a school in Boston and or expand an existing school in the city will be required to be identified as proven providers by the Commissioner. All districts affected by a charter application or a request for charter expansion will receive a copy of the submission in order to provide written comment to the Department regarding the request. The deadline to submit a prospectus for a new charter school application is July 28, and expansion requests are due by August 1.

  5. Assessment study. Board members may recall that we commissioned the American Institutes for Research to conduct a statewide study on district practices in student assessment. At the March 2015 Board meeting, Associate Commissioner Carrie Conaway and I shared with you the findings from the survey of a representative sample of districts. AIR is now completing assessment inventories and case studies in four districts. We expect to have the final report from this study by the end of June. I will update the Board at the June 23 meeting.

  6. Testimony at Joint Committee on Education hearing. On June 11, Chair Sagan and I presented testimony to the Joint Committee on Education in opposition to bills that would place a moratorium on statewide student assessments and on the current system for accountability and assistance for schools and districts. I have enclosed a copy of our testimony under Tab 13 in the Information section of your materials. Secretary Peyser and Donald Willyard also testified on the bills.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Strengthening Civic Learning - Discussion

    In February 2014, the Board held a special meeting on civic engagement and learning. We were joined by members of the Special Commission on Civic Learning, chaired by Senator Richard Moore, to discuss the status of civic education in the Commonwealth's schools and strategies for improvement. Under former Board Chair Maura Banta, a working group was formed and led by David Roach. The working group conducted outreach including a public hearing and a statewide survey to investigate the current status of civic learning in schools, identify promising practices, and identify opportunities for elevating civic education and engagement. The working group's report, "Preparing Citizens: Report on Civic Learning and Engagement," is enclosed under Tab 1. On June 23, David Roach and members of the working group will present the findings and recommendations to the Board.

  2. Lawrence Public Schools: Progress Report on Third Year of Receivership - Discussion

    At the Board's June 23 meeting, Receiver Jeff Riley will present his progress report on the third year of state receivership of the Lawrence Public Schools. We recently renewed the Lawrence district turnaround plan for another three years. A copy of the updated turnaround plan is included in your materials.

  3. Update on Holyoke Public Schools - Discussion

    The memo under Tab 3 provides the June monthly update to the Board about our work with the Holyoke Public Schools. I am pleased that Stephen Zrike, who assumes the position of Receiver in Holyoke on July 6, will join us at the June 23 Board meeting, along with members of the Department's Holyoke team, led by Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston.

  4. Level 5 Schools: End-of-Year Reports - Discussion

    The memo under Tab 4 provides the end-of-year reports about our work with the four Level 5 schools: Dever Elementary School and UP Academy Holland in Boston; Morgan Full Service Community School in Holyoke; and John Avery Parker Elementary School in New Bedford. Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston will be present to respond to your questions.

  5. Annual Performance Evaluation of the Commissioner: Report from Committee on Commissioner's Performance Evaluation - Discussion and Vote

    Board member Penny Noyce, who chairs the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation committee, will present the committee's report and will recommend a motion on the Commissioner's evaluation.

  6. Update on FY2016 State Education Budget - Discussion

    Associate Commissioner Bill Bell and I will update the Board on the latest information we have on the state budget for FY2016.

  7. Breakfast in the Classroom - Continuing Discussion

    At the Board meeting in February 2015, we had a presentation on the school breakfast program, highlighting breakfast in the classroom. The memo under Tab 7 provides an update on this initiative. Katie Millett, our Executive Director for Nutrition Services, will be at the meeting to answer your questions.

  8. Redefining Low Income - A New Metric for K-12 Education Data - Discussion

    Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson and Robert Curtin, our manager of education data services, will present an overview of the new methodology we are implementing for identifying and counting "low income" students in our public schools. The memo and information sheet under Tab 8 explain the reasons for the change and the likely impact on various programs.

  9. Regulations on Autism Endorsement for Educator Licensure, 603 CMR 7.00 - Discussion and Vote

    A state law enacted in 2014 (Chapter 226 of the Acts of 2014, An Act Relative to Assisting Individuals with Autism and Other Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities) directs the Board to adopt regulations to establish a teacher license endorsement in autism in order to meet the unique and complex educational needs of students on the Autism Spectrum. In April 2015, the Board voted to solicit public comment on the proposed regulations. Based on our review of the comments we received, we have made some minor changes to the proposed regulations. At the June 23 meeting, I will recommend that the Board vote to adopt the regulations as presented. Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston will join us for the discussion.

  10. Delegation of Authority to Commissioner to take Necessary Action between Board Meetings - Discussion and Vote

    Since we have a three-month hiatus until the next meeting of the Board, I recommend that you vote to authorize the Commissioner to act on your behalf in approving any matters that are not otherwise covered by the Board's previous delegations of authority, and that require Board action before the next regular meeting in September 2015. By the terms of the suggested motion, I will notify Board members in advance of any such action and report to the Board on any matters that have been so approved.

  11. Schedule for Regular Board Meetings through June 2016 - Vote

    After checking with members, we have prepared a proposed schedule for regular Board meetings through June 2016. With the Board's approval, we will post the schedule on our website.

  12. Update on PARCC - Discussion

    Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson and I will present our monthly update to the Board on PARCC. By our June 23 meeting, the Board will have held four of five scheduled PARCC forums around the state.

Other Items for Information

  1. Testimony of Commissioner and Board Chair to Joint Committee on Education

    Enability and assistance for schools and districts.

  2. State Student Advisory Council End-of-Year Report for 2015-2016

    Board member Donald Willyard summarized the work of the State Student Advisory Council at our May meeting at Pioneer Charter School of Science in Everett. He will distribute the SSAC's end-of-year report at our June 23 meeting. Donald has been re-elected as chair of the SSAC and as a member of this Board for another year. We thank him for his continued service to the students of the Commonwealth and to this Board.

  3. Charter Schools Update

    The memo under Tab 15 provides an update on several initiatives the Department has launched to promote access and equity for students in all current and new charter schools. The initiatives are summarized in my charter school authorizing overview memo from October 2014.

  4. Report on Non-Operating School Districts Approved by the Commissioner

    By statute, towns that do not operate their own public schools (generally because the town is small and is not a member of a regional school district) must request and receive approval annually from the Board to tuition their students to public schools in other towns. In June 2009 the Board voted to delegate this approval authority to the commissioner. Enclosed is a memo reporting on the approvals I have granted.

  5. Report on Grants Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 17 you will find reports on grants that I approved since the last Board meeting, under the authority that the Board has delegated to me.

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the Department on June 23.

Last Updated: June 18, 2015
E-mail this page| Print View| Print Pdf  
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Search · A-Z Site Index · Policies · Site Info · Contact DESE