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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Amendments to Regulations on MCAS and Competency Determination, 603 CMR 30.00, for Transition to New Standard

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Jeff Wulfson, Acting Commissioner
Date:
February 16, 2018

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At the meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) on February 27, 2018, I will ask the Board to vote to adopt the proposed changes to the Regulations on MCAS and the Competency Determination (603 CMR 30.00).

On November 28, 2017, the Board voted to solicit public comment on the proposed changes to the regulations. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) received three comments (details below), and no changes to the proposed amendments were deemed necessary based on the comments.

Background

At the September 2017 meeting of the Board, 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 Board continued its discussion at the October meeting, and voted at the November meeting to solicit public comment on the proposed changes to the regulations.

The next-generation grade 10 ELA and mathematics MCAS tests will 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 November meeting, the revisions to the CD will hold students in the classes of 2021 and 2022 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. The interim standard also will allow the Board to consider the results from the next-generation grade 10 tests in setting a new CD standard for the classes of 2023 and beyond, taking into account the new achievement levels, scales, and other factors.

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.

Summary of Amendments to 603 CMR 30.00

The proposed amendments to the Regulations on MCAS and the Competency Determination, 603 CMR 30.00, are as follows:

  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 these steps, we are discussing implications for the Certificate of Mastery, as well as state scholarship programs, with our colleagues in higher education.

Public Comment on the Proposed Revisions

The public comment period on the proposed changes to the regulations opened following the Board meeting on November 27, 2017, and closed on January 19, 2018. Three comments were received and responded to:

  1. One comment requested that students with disabilities and students in other high needs subgroups have "ample alternatives to demonstrate their knowledge and attain their high school CD." Response: Students will continue to have multiple pathways to the CD, including MCAS retest opportunities; submission of MCAS performance appeals; and creation of competency portfolios as options for students to meet the graduation requirement, if they do not pass the grade 10 assessments.

  2. A second comment was related to the provision of appropriate reading instruction, in order to meet the "rigorous requirement" of the CD, particularly for students with disabilities. Response: We agree on the importance of appropriate reading instruction. As noted above, the intent of the interim standard is to provide members of the classes of 2021 and 2022 with timely notice of the passing standard for the CD, and allow students, parents, and educators to become familiar with the new assessments before any students are held to a new passing standard.

  3. The third comment requested clarification regarding the definition of "graduating class" that is now included in the regulations, specifically as that definition will apply to students who are retained in high school or students with disabilities or other needs who require services beyond grade 12. Response: The definition of graduating class is intended to clarify which cohort (graduating class) a student belongs to, for the purpose of defining the CD requirements for that student with respect to the interim standard. Students who do not graduate in four years may continue to attend school and graduate after a fifth year, or longer if receiving special education services.

Based on a review of the comments and responses above, I have determined that no further amendments to the regulations are needed. The proposed amendments remain as presented in November.

I recommend that the Board vote to adopt the 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.

A redlined version of the regulations is attached, along with the motion to adopt the amendments to the regulations, and copies of the three comments that were received. Associate Commissioner Michol Stapel and Lucy Wall of our legal staff will join us for the discussion on February 27.

Public comments on proposed amendments Redlined version of proposed amendments to 603 CMR 30.00 Motion to adopt revised regulations

Enclosures:

Download Word Document
Public comments on proposed amendments
Download Word Document
Redlined version of proposed amendments to 603 CMR 30.00
 
Motion to adopt revised regulations


Last Updated: February 20, 2018
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