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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Regulations on Accountability and Assistance for School Districts and Schools, 603 CMR 2.00

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

Chapter 12 of the Acts of 2010, An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap, was signed into law on January 18, 2010 and took effect immediately. Its purpose is to foster educational innovation and turn around underperforming schools forthwith. Among other things, the new law makes sweeping changes to the statutes on underperforming schools and school districts, Mass. General Laws chapter 69, sections 1J and 1K.

Over the last year and a half, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has worked with a wide range of stakeholders, including the School and District Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council, to develop a framework for district and school accountability and assistance, including identifying and intervening in the lowest performing schools in order to bring about rapid improvements. The Board has reviewed and discussed the framework at several meetings. This work has put us in a strong position to carry out our responsibilities under the new law.

In February 2010, I presented to the Board proposed Regulations on Accountability and Assistance for School Districts and Schools. These regulations replace the existing Regulations on Underperforming Schools and School Districts, 603 CMR 2.00; carry out the purpose and intent of the newly amended statutes; and advance the new accountability and assistance system. The Board voted to solicit public comment on the proposed regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act and send them to the Joint Committee on Education as required by Mass. General Laws c. 69, § 1J, as recently amended. Having concluded that process, we have carefully reviewed all the comments submitted by the public and the Joint Committee co-chairs. We made a number of revisions to the regulations in response to the comments, as well as additional edits for clarity, completeness, and consistency with the statute. I am presenting the revised regulations to the Board for a final vote at the April 27 meeting.

We received comments and suggested revisions to the February version of the proposed regulation from 11 sources: Rep. Martha Walz and Sen. Robert O'Leary, Co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Education; Anne Wass on behalf of the Massachusetts Teachers Association; Thomas Gosnell on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts; Maryalice Stamer on behalf of the Massachusetts School Nurse Organization; Michael J. Long on behalf of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents; Stephen J. Finnegan, Esq., on behalf of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees; Tracy O'Connell Novick, Member, Worcester School Committee; Thomas Mela, on behalf of Massachusetts Advocates for Children, joined by the Federation for Special Needs and Multicultural Education, Training & Advocacy, Inc.; John Portz, Member of the Board's Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council; Susan Freedman and Jon Saphier on behalf of Working Group for Educator Excellence; and James C. Savage III, Esq. Retired. Their letters of comment are enclosed for your information, along with a summary and analysis of their comments and our responses.

We have made several revisions to the regulations in response to the comments, as well as making additional changes for clarity, consistency, and completeness. Enclosed is a clean copy of the proposed final regulations as well as a copy showing the changes from the proposed version that the Board reviewed in February and sent out for comment. The major revisions from the February document are the following:

In response to comments:

  • We have changed the method of assignment of schools and districts to Levels 1, 2, and 3 of the framework for district accountability and assistance, leaving placement in Levels 1 and 2 to be made on the basis of NCLB status, but making Level 3 districts those that have a school in the lowest 20 percent of schools as determined in accordance with the new statute.

  • We have changed the procedures to implement the approval by the commissioner for turnaround plans for Level 4 schools: instead of determining the goals for a Level 4 school turnaround plan at the beginning of the process of developing the plan, the commissioner will receive the turnaround plan for approval at the end of the process.

  • We have deleted the provision (former 2.06(2)(b)) that allowed a Level 4 school to be placed in Level 5 due to extreme noncompliance, for instance the failure to develop a turnaround plan, that put the school's improvement at risk. Instead, the Department will use other means within its power, including the withholding of funds if necessary, to obtain compliance with the law.

  • We have given more definition to the transitional periods mandated by the statute by providing for review, two years after removal of a school or district from Level 4 or 5, of any continuing feature of the turnaround plan.

In order to provide clarification:

  • We have added a regulation to make clear when in the process of creating the turnaround plan for Level 4 schools the collective bargaining/ratification/joint resolution committee process should take place, thus resolving a question about the timing for the process in a way that we believe will result in the shortest reasonable time before a turnaround plan is ready to be implemented.

  • We have added a regulation to provide notice to districts that the expedited turnaround plan provided for in Section 1J(b) of the statute will be available only for this school year.

You will recall that in March 2010, the Board adopted, in final form, the regulation on placement of schools in Level 4. That regulation appears in this full set of regulations at section 2.05(2).

Deputy Commissioner Karla Brooks Baehr and I will be pleased to respond to your questions at the April 27 Board meeting.


Proposed regulations
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Summary and analysis of comments and responses
Comment letters
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Statutes: M.G.L. Chapter 69, Sections 1J and 1K, as amended by Chapter 12 of the Acts of 2010
Motion to adopt regulations

Last Updated: May 10, 2010
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