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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the December 15, 2009 Regular 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:December 4, 2009

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The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, December 15, 2009, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's offices at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden. The meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. (coffee will be available at 8) and will adjourn by 1 p.m. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call Beverley O'Riordan at (781) 338-3118.

Overview

Our December 15th agenda leads off with a presentation on our partnership with WGBH and an update on our work in preparing the Race to the Top application. We will present a status report and discuss next steps in our redesign of the state system for accountability and assistance. The Board will discuss and vote on the proposed graduation rate standard for 2010 AYP determinations and the graduation rate goal and annual targets. Several charter school matters are also on the agenda, including a vote on amendments to the regulations that the Board reviewed in September, charter renewals, and a charter amendment.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and activities. She will also invite Jeff Howard to give an update on the work of the Proficiency Gap Committee.

Comments from the Commissioner

I will update the Board on various matters of interest.

Comments from the Secretary

Secretary Reville will brief the Board on current issues and activities.

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Partnership with WGBH - Discussion

    As part of a year-long partnership between the Department and the WGBH Educational Foundation and WGBY in Springfield, we have jointly launched a new online resource that provides teachers with free access to more than 2,200 classroom-ready media tools, Massachusetts Teachers' Domain. This is the first of several projects we are working on with WGBH/WGBY. At this month's meeting, WGBH President and CEO Jon Abbott, and WGBY-Springfield Vice President and General Manager Rus Peotter, will discuss the work they have done previously to support teachers nationwide, highlight several of our ongoing projects, and talk about additional initiatives we are planning.

  2. Race to the Top - Continuing Discussion

    I will update the Board about our ongoing work with the Executive Office of Education on the federal Race to the Top application. As we discussed at the November meeting, this is a tremendous opportunity for Massachusetts to leverage additional support for four major areas of reform: high standards and sound assessments, effective teachers and school leaders, data systems to support instruction, and turnaround strategies for the lowest performing schools. The Board's feedback has been helpful as we continue to work on the application.

  3. School and District Accountability and Assistance System Redesign: Update on Proposed Amendments to Regulations (603 CMR 2.00), Pending State Legislation, Advisory Council Report, and Other Developments - Discussion

    Deputy Commissioner Karla Baehr and I will update the Board on the Department's work on the accountability and assistance system over the past three months, as well as the status of the proposed amendments to the regulations and the education reform bill that is pending in the Legislature. The Advisory Council on Accountability and Assistance will be reviewing a draft of the proposed regulations on Wednesday, December 9th. We will incorporate the council's feedback and send to the Board the analysis of the comments and the proposed regulations on Thursday, December 10th. Joe Esposito, chair of the advisory council, will present a report from the advisory council to the Board at our December 15th meeting.

  4. Proposed Graduation Rate Standard for 2010 AYP Determinations and Graduation Rate Goal and Annual Targets - Discussion and Vote

    This topic was on the Board agenda in November for background information and initial discussion. The U.S. Department of Education requires states to establish a statewide graduation rate goal and to set annual targets to reach that goal. Graduation rates are one of the factors used in determining whether a district is making adequate yearly progress (AYP). The Board approved the 2009 graduation rate targets in March 2009. This month I am presenting my recommendation for our long-range state goal and for the intermediate targets for the 2009-10 and subsequent school years, for your approval.

Charter Schools:

  1. Amendments to Charter School Regulations, 603 CMR 1.00 - Discussion and Vote

    In September the Board reviewed and voted to solicit public comment on proposed amendments to the charter school regulations, 603 CMR 1.00. The proposed amendments respond to issues raised by the Joint Committee on Education at the oversight hearing it convened in Gloucester in June, and also clarify some of the accountability provisions. These changes affirm that the Board and Department took very seriously the recommendations that the Joint Committee made about the charter application and approval process. In fact, we are already implementing procedures outlined in the amendments. We are following carefully the progress of the education reform legislation. If the bill, as enacted, requires the Board to further revise the charter school regulations, we will do so. In the meantime, however, I believe the interests of the public and the education community would be served by our moving forward with these amendments to the charter school regulations.

  2. Charter Renewals for Boston Renaissance Charter Public School and Lowell Community Charter Public School - Discussion and Possible Vote

    The charter of Boston Renaissance Charter Public School is currently under consideration for renewal. Because I am recommending that the extension of a probationary condition into the school's next charter term, this decision will be put to a vote of the Board. I recommend that the Board discuss and vote on the charter renewal application at this month's meeting.

    The charter of Lowell Community Charter School is also under consideration for renewal. We are continuing to review the school's data. I expect to send a report and recommendation to the Board on or about December 10th, for discussion at the December 15th meeting and an anticipated vote at the January meeting.

  3. Charter Amendment for KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School - Discussion and Vote

    KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School requests an amendment to increase its maximum enrollment (from 320 to 850 students) and grades served (from 5-8 to 5-12). Under the Charter School Regulations, the Board approves major changes in the material terms of a school's charter. These decisions remain the province of the Board and have not been delegated to me. KIPP's proposed expansion would take place over multiple years until full capacity and grade span is reached. KIPP has a demonstrated track record of academic achievement and a strong demand for seats. The request for amendment meets the criteria in the regulations, and I recommend your approval.

  4. Report on Conditions Met by Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School and Vote to Remove from Probation - Discussion and Vote

    In 2006 the Board renewed the charter for the Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School (BBCPS) with conditions. Because the school did not consistently meet the conditions, in February 2009, the Board placed it on probation with a condition concerning academic success. BBCPS has met the condition imposed by the Board in February 2009 and, therefore, I recommend that the Board vote to remove the school from probation.

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 the Commissioner

    Under Tab 10 are three memos reporting on the following matters:

    • I approved state and federal grants in November, per the Board's vote in October 2008 to delegate grant approvals to the commissioner. This authorization allows us to make decisions and inform grant applicants on a timely basis.
    • The Board has delegated authority to me to approve extended loan terms for charter schools, a routine administrative matter. I approved one such extended loan term in November 2009.
    • 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. I approved three charter amendments in November under this delegated authority.
  3. Report on Conditions Met by Salem Academy Charter School

    Enclosed under Tab 11 is a report on a charter school whose charter the Board renewed with conditions. The Board renewed the charter of Salem Academy Charter Public School in February 2009 with one condition regarding education of English language learners. The school has met the condition that the Board imposed.

  4. FY 2011 Budget Update: Board's Budget Submission to Secretary of Education

    The Board voted last month to adopt recommended guiding principles for the FY state education budget. Enclosed under Tab 12 is a copy of our budget transmittal letter to Secretary Reville.

  5. Board/Department Annual Report for FY 2009

    The annual report for FY 2009 includes key data and chronicles the major decisions and actions of the Board from July 2008-June 2009. It is an impressive record of some of our accomplishments in service to the students of Massachusetts. We will send the report to the Board under separate cover. We plan to distribute copies to the Governor and the Legislature and post the report on our website.

Directions to the Meeting

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the Department's offices in Malden on December 15th.



Last Updated: December 8, 2009
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