The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Scheduling of Comprehensive Audits and Reviews
|To:||Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education|
|From:||Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner|
|Date:||September 11, 2009|
Chapter 15, section 55A of the General Laws, as amended by Chapter 311 of the acts of 2008, transferred the responsibilities of the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability to our Department's office of school and district accountability. The law includes a provision regarding the scheduling of major reviews to reduce administrative burdens on schools and districts.
In particular, section 55A now states that
[t]he office [of school and district accountability] shall ensure that no school or district is audited during the administration of any statewide assessments, and shall coordinate with other entities in the department to ensure that a school or district is not subject to multiple comprehensive audits or reviews by the department or any accrediting body within a 9 month period unless the board specifically votes to do so on an emergency basis.
(Emphasis added). "Comprehensive audits or reviews" includes audits conducted by the office of school and district accountability, coordinated program reviews conducted by our office of program quality assurance (PQA), charter school renewal inspections conducted by our charter school office, and accreditation reviews conducted by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
The Department has developed a master calendar for these activities to minimize the scheduling conflicts. This fall, however, two unavoidable conflicts will require action by the Board under this statutory provision. These conflicts are as follows:
- Lowell Community Charter Public School had a coordinated program review last winter, and is scheduled for a renewal inspection this fall.
- Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School is scheduled for both a renewal inspection and an accreditation review by NEASC this fall.
In both instances, the two reviews fall within the nine-month window proscribed by the statute. We have discussed the situation with the leaders of both schools, and they have no objection to the Department conducting renewal inspections this fall. Accordingly, I recommend that the Board vote to allow the multiple reviews for both of these schools within the nine-month period, as the statute permits with Board authorization. A motion to that effect is enclosed.