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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

New State Education Reform Legislation

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:January 15, 2010


In July 2009 Governor Patrick filed legislation to improve public schools in the Commonwealth and close achievement gaps by expanding the state's authority to intervene in underperforming and chronically underperforming schools and districts, increasing the number of charter school slots available for high-need students in low performing districts, and creating new models of innovative in-district schools. Since last summer, the Senate and House have been working on this legislation, crafting a bill that will advance education reform and position the Commonwealth to qualify for significant funding under the federal Race to the Top program.

The version that emerged from the conference committee late Wednesday night, January 13th, includes the three major themes:

  • Intervention strategies to improve underperforming and chronically underperforming schools and districts, including turnaround plans with the involvement of local stakeholders, and defined authority for school and district leaders, the Commissioner, and the Board in these schools and districts.
  • Raising the cap on charter schools in a limited number of low performing districts, as well as a number of changes in the chartering process.
  • Innovation schools as a local option under the authority of local school leaders, to provide for innovative educational programs with flexibility within the structure of the traditional public school.

The January 19th deadline for our Race to the Top grant application has been a key to moving the legislation through the Massachusetts General Court to Governor Patrick for enactment into law in a timely manner. Now that the conference committee report has been delivered, we anticipate approval from both the House and the Senate as well as the Governor's signature. When the final bill is enacted, we will forward it to Board members.

At our meeting on January 26th, we will present an overview of the new education reform law, focusing on the responsibilities of the Board, Commissioner, and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Last Updated: January 21, 2010
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