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Recommended Amendment to Regulations on Accountability and Assistance for School Districts and Schools, 603 CMR 2.00 (Limitation of Certain Provisions for 2016-17 School Year)

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
April 7, 2017


At the February 28, 2017 meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to solicit public comment on a proposed amendment to 603 CMR 2.00: Accountability and Assistance for School Districts and Schools. I am asking the Board to adopt the amendment at our meeting on April 18, 2017.

Background: Proposed Amendment

Among other matters, the regulations describe the Commonwealth's framework for district accountability and assistance, and the process for placing schools into Levels 1-5. The proposed amendment would allow the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to refrain from placing certain schools into Levels 1-3 at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. The regulation also addresses participation rates and persistently low graduation rates, as noted in more detail below.

As we discussed at our February meeting, Massachusetts schools enrolling students in grades 3-8 had the option of administering either MCAS or PARCC assessments over the last two school years. These schools are now administering the next-generation MCAS assessment for the first time. In light of these changes, the Board voted in November 2015 to hold these schools harmless in the state's accountability system. Given that vote, the varied assessments that have been administered over the last three years, and our transition to a revised system of accountability and assistance as required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), I am proposing to reset the accountability baseline for schools administering the next-generation MCAS tests this spring, under the terms detailed below.

Schools enrolling students in grades 3-8 would not be placed in Levels 1-3 of the framework for district accountability and assistance for the 2016-2017 school year, provided that the school maintains at least 90 percent participation for each student group in each subject on the spring 2017 assessments and, if the school goes through grade 12, the school does not have persistently low graduation rates for one or more student groups.1 Elementary and middle schools with a participation rate below 90 percent will be placed in Level 3. Assessment results for each school still will be reported publicly. The 2017 next-generation MCAS results for grades 3-8 will serve as the baseline for future accountability reporting.

The first district and school accountability determinations under our revised system of accountability and assistance will take place in the fall of 2018. At that time, we plan to use assessment results and other indicators from 2017 and 2018 to make accountability determinations, with the intention of building up to a system that includes four years of data.

At the high school level, the legacy MCAS tests will be administered as usual in 2017, and assessment and accountability results will be reported as in the past. High schools serving only grades 9-12 will continue to be placed into an accountability and assistance level based on their Progress and Performance Index (PPI) and school percentile data, with adjustments for those schools with persistently low graduation rates, or low or very low assessment participation.

Review and Public Comment

The public comment period on the proposed amendment to the regulation ended on April 5th and the Board's Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council (AAAC) will review the proposed amendment and associated public comment at its April 12, 2017 meeting. I will send a summary of the public comment, a summary of the discussion with the AAAC, the final text of the proposed amendment, and my recommendation to the Board prior to our April 18 meeting.

Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston and Associate Commissioner Robert Curtin will be at the Board meeting on April 18 to answer your questions.



Last Updated: April 10, 2017
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