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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the April 27, 2010 Meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:April 16, 2010

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, April 27, 2010, at Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford. Board members are invited to tour the school at 8 a.m. and coffee will be available at that time. The meeting will take place in the school's auditorium starting at 8:30 a.m. and will adjourn by 1 p.m.

If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call JC Considine at (781) 338-3112.


Dr. Judith Klimkiewicz, Superintendent of Nashoba Valley Technical High School, will welcome us and will lead Board members and others on a tour of the high school at 8 a.m. After our meeting concludes at 1 p.m., Board members are invited to have lunch in the school's restaurant, prepared and served by students in the culinary arts program.

Our agenda for the April 27 meeting leads off with an update on school district regionalization, followed by a presentation and discussion on state initiatives to prevent and address bullying in schools. The Board will receive the report of the Proficiency Gap Task Force led by Jeff Howard. We will discuss next steps in our Race to the Top Round 2 proposal. The Board will take action on two sets of regulations: a final vote on the regulations on the new school and district accountability and assistance system and an initial vote to solicit public comment on proposed regulations to implement the new statute on innovation schools.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and upcoming events.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Common Assessment Consortium. Under Race to the Top, states have the opportunity to join a consortium to develop and implement common assessments that are aligned with the Common Core standards. The purpose is to increase the quality and efficiency of states' summative assessment systems. As stated in our Round 1 RTTT proposal, Massachusetts has joined a consortium that involves 28 states and is being facilitated by Achieve, Inc. We have been working actively with the consortium over the past several months to draft a framework for a future summative assessment system. This framework will be the basis for the consortium's response to the RTTT assessment competition that the U.S. Department of Education issued early in April. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Nellhaus and Associate Commissioner Bob Bickerton will represent Massachusetts on the team preparing the proposal to the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of the consortium. A total of $350 million is available to be awarded to assessment consortia through this grant competition. We will indicate our continued commitment to the Achieve-facilitated consortium in our Round 2 RTTT proposal.

  2. Class of 2010. At our meeting, I will update the Board on the attainment of the competency determination by members of the class of 2010. As you will recall, this is the first class that has to meet state standards in science and technology/engineering as well as English language arts and mathematics to be eligible to earn a Massachusetts high school diploma. As of today, 94 percent of the students in the class of 2010 have met the state standard in science and technology/engineering, and 93 percent have met the standard in all three areas: English language arts, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering. By April 27 I expect to be able to update these data with the results of the March 2010 English language arts and mathematics retests. I will have a further update in May when we have the results of the April 2010 special administration of the science and technology/engineering (biology) test.

  3. Kit Viator. Kit Viator, who has led Student Assessment Services for the Commonwealth with great distinction, is leaving the Department after 15 years to work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Kit's energy, skill, and commitment in managing the MCAS program and related initiatives have been tremendous assets in advancing the Massachusetts education reform agenda. We thank Kit for her service and wish her all the best in her new endeavors.

Comments from the Secretary

Secretary Reville will brief the Board on current issues and activities, including the state budget.

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Update on School District Regionalization, Consolidation, and Collaboration - Discussion

    Our meeting at Nashoba Valley Technical High School, a regional school district, is an appropriate setting in which to update the Board on our efforts to help communities and school districts identify and make use of various options for regionalization and other types of collaboration in service of K-12 education. The Board will hear from Associate Commissioner Jeff Wulfson; Christine Lynch from our Center for School Finance, Planning, Research, and Evaluation; and Steve Hemman, former superintendent at Narragansett Regional School District and currently the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools (MARS).

  2. State Initiatives to Prevent and Address Bullying in Schools - Presentation and Discussion

    At our March meeting, the Board discussed the work of the Massachusetts Behavioral Health and Public Schools Task Force, which is developing a "behavioral health services framework" to improve educational outcomes for students with behavioral health challenges. This month we will continue our focus on promoting a positive school climate and the social/emotional well-being of students, with a presentation by Dr. Elizabeth Englander, professor of psychology and director of the Massachusetts Aggression Resource Center at Bridgewater State College, on "Preventing and Addressing Bullying in Schools." Dr. Englander and Associate Commissioner John Bynoe will highlight current issues and initiatives, including the anticipated state legislation on bullying. I look forward to our discussion of this timely and important topic.

  3. Report of the Proficiency Gap Task Force - Presentation

    Board member Jeff Howard, who chairs the Proficiency Gap Task Force, will present the report and recommendations of the task force and Board members will have the opportunity to ask questions. At our May meeting, we will have a full discussion about the report and recommendations.

  4. Race to the Top: Next Steps - Discussion

    We are moving forward with our Round 2 Race to the Top proposal, which is due on June 1. We are using the detailed feedback from the U.S. Department of Education on our Round 1 proposal to guide us in strengthening our application for Round 2. At the April 27 Board meeting I will highlight key issues that we are working to address. The Board's feedback will be very helpful as we proceed.

  5. Regulations on School and District Accountability and Assistance (Amendments to Regulations on Underperforming Schools and School Districts, 603 CMR 2.00) - Discussion and Vote

    In February 2010 the Board reviewed and authorized a period of public comment on proposed Regulations on Accountability and Assistance for School Districts and Schools. These new regulations are based on the newly amended statutes on underperforming schools and school districts and are intended to advance the new system of accountability and assistance. They would replace our current Regulations on Underperforming Schools and School Districts, 603 CMR 2.00. We have received and reviewed the comments, made changes to the regulations where needed, and are presenting the regulations to the Board for final adoption this month. Your materials include the final regulations as revised, a chart summarizing the comments and our responses, and all of the written comments. Deputy Commissioner Karla Brooks Baehr and I will be pleased to respond to your questions at the April 27 meeting.

  6. Proposed Regulations on Innovation Schools, 603 CMR 48.00 - Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    As the Board is aware, the Act Relative to the Achievement Gap (Chapter 12 of the Acts of 2010), which was signed into law in January, rewrote the statutes on underperforming schools and school districts and the charter school statute. The act also created a new statute, Mass. Gen. Laws c. 71, § 92, establishing "innovation schools" - public schools operating within a school district with increased autonomy and flexibility to improve school performance and student achievement. The statute directs the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to promulgate regulations necessary to implement innovation schools, including regulations pertaining to a new "virtual public school" online learning option. We are presenting the proposed regulations to the Board this month for initial review and a vote to solicit public comment. With the Board's approval, we will invite public comment on the proposed regulations through June 4 and bring them back to the Board on June 22 for final approval.

Other Items for Information

  1. Education-Related News Clippings

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

  2. Report on Grants and Charter School Matters Approved by Commissioner

    Under Tab 8 are memos reporting on the following matters:

    • I approved state grants under two competitive grant programs between March 10 and April 2, per the Board's vote in October 2008 to delegate grant approvals to the commissioner. The grants are for K-12 literacy professional development partnerships (increases to grants for high need districts and other eligible districts, plus a second round of small grants), and adult basic education capacity building grants/career pathways and family literacy. The Board's authorization allows us to make decisions and inform grant applicants on a timely basis.

    • In September 2009, the Board also delegated authority to me to approve charter renewals that do not involve conditions or probation and charter amendments that do not involve changes in grade span, maximum enrollment, or districts served, with the proviso that I will notify the Board in advance of all such intended actions and a Board member may request that the matter be placed on the Board agenda for discussion and action. In March 2010, I notified the Board that I intended to approve a charter amendment to the governance structure of the City on a Hill Charter Public School in Boston. The Board chose not to discuss or vote on this proposed charter amendment. Consequently I have approved the amendment for the City on a Hill Charter Public School. Details are in the memo under Tab 8.

  3. FY2011 Education Budget Proposal from House Ways & Means Committee

    The House Ways & Means Committee released its FY2011 budget proposal on April 14. Our analysis of the education line items is enclosed under Tab 9.

Directions to the Meeting

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at Nashoba Valley Technical High School on April 27.

Last Updated: April 23, 2010
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