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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Update on Interim Standard for the Competency Determination for the Classes of 2021 and 2022

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Jeff Wulfson, Acting Commissioner
Date:
October 13, 2017

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At the September 2017 meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, I presented my recommendations for ensuring fairness for students seeking to attain their high school competency determination (CD) as we transition from the legacy high school MCAS assessments to next-generation assessments.

The next-generation grade 10 ELA and mathematics MCAS tests are scheduled to be administered for the first time in the spring of 2019. The reports of student results will use the new achievement levels that the Board adopted in spring 2017: Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, and Not Meeting Expectations. The first cohort of students that will take these new tests—the class of 2021—is in 9th grade this fall. We will not be able to set standards on these tests until after these students participate in the first administration of the next-generation grade 10 tests in spring 2019.

As we discussed at the Board meeting in September, to ensure fairness during the transition period for each graduating class and provide adequate notice to students, parents, and educators, I am recommending that the Board update the CD regulations this fall to state that students in the classes of 2021 and 2022 will be held to an interim passing standard: a similar level of achievement to the current required standard on the legacy tests: 240 (Proficient), or 220 (Needs Improvement) and the fulfillment of the requirements of an Educational Proficiency Plan (EPP) in ELA and mathematics. The interim standard will provide members of the classes of 2021 and 2022 with timely notice of the passing standard they must meet to earn a CD, and allow students, parents, and educators to become familiar with the new assessments before any students are held to a new passing standard.

In the fall of 2019, after the standards are set on the next-generation grade 10 assessments, the Board may consider setting a new standard for the competency determination. By setting an interim standard for students who are currently in grades 9 and 8, we allow for a fair and smooth transition, and enable the Board to consider the results from the next-generation grade 10 tests in setting a new competency determination standard for the classes of 2023 and beyond, taking into account the new achievement levels, scales, and other factors.

The Department is working on proposed amendments to 603 CMR 30.00—the regulations that govern the CD—to establish the interim CD standard for the classes of 2021 and 2022. When the proposed amendments are ready, I will present them to the Board and recommend that the Board vote to solicit public comment on them. In the meantime, I am providing the following background information.

Background on 603 CMR 30.00

The regulations were first promulgated in 2000 to establish the standards for students to earn a CD. At that time, the passing standard was identified as a score of 220 (Needs Improvement) on the grade 10 ELA and mathematics tests. Subsequent amendments established the Educational Proficiency Plan (for students who had scored 220 but not yet reached a score of 240 [Proficient]), and added high school tests in science and technology/engineering as a requirement for earning a CD. The regulations also provide that three years after the first administration of a high school history and social science exam, students will also need to meet the passing standard on that exam to earn a CD.

The regulations also outline the score appeals and performance appeals processes as they relate to the CD.

Anticipated Approach to Amending 603 CMR 30.00

In order to provide a fair and reasonable transition to the next-generation high school MCAS assessments, I recommend that the Board establish an interim CD standard. To do this, I anticipate presenting proposed amendments to the Regulations on MCAS and the Competency Determination, 603 CMR 30.00, as described below.

  1. Update language throughout the regulations, as applicable, to establish an interim passing standard for students in the classes of 2021 and 2022 in ELA and mathematics. (The next-generation science tests will be administered for the first time in 2020, and associated regulatory changes will be brought to the Board separately in the future.) Students in the classes of 2020 and 2021 would be expected to fulfill one of the following in ELA and mathematics order to earn their CD:
    1. meet or exceed the scaled score threshold on the grade 10 MCAS tests administered in 2019 or later that has been determined by the Commissioner to be comparable to the scaled score threshold of 240 on the grade 10 MCAS tests administered before 2019, or
    2. meet or exceed the scaled score threshold on the grade 10 MCAS tests administered in 2019 or later that has been determined by the Commissioner to be comparable to the scaled score threshold of 220 on the grade 10 MCAS tests administered before 2019 and fulfill the requirements of an Educational Proficiency Plan.

  2. Update outdated language and references in the regulations.

In addition to the steps we will take to revise 603 CMR 30.00, we are discussing implications for the Certificate of Mastery, as well as state scholarship programs, with our colleagues in higher education. These matters will be on the agenda in January 2018 when our Board meets jointly with the Board of Higher Education.

Associate Commissioner Michol Stapel and Lucy Wall of our legal staff will join us for the discussion on October 24.



Last Updated: October 16, 2017
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