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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the September 20, 2010 Special Meeting and the September 21, 2010 Regular Meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
September 10, 2010

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 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. The Board also will hold a special meeting at the Department's offices in Malden from 5-7 p.m. on Monday evening, September 20, to discuss the report of the Proficiency Gap Task Force. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call JC Considine at (781) 338-3112.


Our special meeting on Monday evening will focus on the report of the Proficiency Gap Task Force. The regular meeting on Tuesday morning is the Board's annual meeting, so the business agenda starts with a vote on the vice-chair. The agenda includes an update on Race to the Top, presentation and discussion of 2010 MCAS results, continuing discussion of the Proficiency Gap Task Force report and recommendations, and a vote on final regulations under the anti-bullying statute. Deputy Commissioner Karla Baehr will update the Board on various aspects of our work in school and district accountability and assistance. We will have an initial discussion of the process and timelines for the FY2012 state education budget. Michael D'Ortenzio Jr. will present the FY2010 report from the State Student Advisory Council. In addition, the Board will receive the 2010 annual reports from the other statutory advisory councils and will consider appointments to the councils, to be voted on next month.

Special Meeting

  1. Report of the Proficiency Gap Task Force - Discussion

    The special meeting on Monday evening provides the opportunity for an extended discussion of the report of the Proficiency Gap Task Force. Board member Jeff Howard, who chaired the task force, presented the report to the Board in May 2010. Our discussion of the report and next steps will continue at the regular meeting on Tuesday.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will welcome our two new members, Vanessa Calderón-Rosado and Jim McDermott. She will also report on current issues and activities.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Update on Common Core Standards. At your July meeting, the Board voted to adopt the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (ELA) and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Per the Board's directive, we are reconvening our ELA and Mathematics Curriculum Framework Review Panels to gather recommendations for specific standards and other features to strengthen and augment the Common Core Standards within the 15 percent allowance. We are also soliciting input from the Common Core review panels, early childhood educators and experts, and financial literacy specialists.

    Based on input from the various groups, I plan to present my recommendations for augmenting the Common Core Standards to the Board at your meeting in October and, subject to your approval, send them out for public comment. Following the public comment period, I will present the final Common Core Standards including the Massachusetts specific augmentations for your approval. Upon approval by the Board, the final documents shall be the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for ELA and Mathematics.

    Throughout the 2010-2011 school year, Department staff will provide support to districts as they begin the transition from the 2000 Massachusetts Frameworks to the newly adopted frameworks. We will post resources including cross-walks and summaries that highlight what is new or different. The Department is also planning a series of meetings for local educators around the state, several webinars, and breakout sessions at our 3rd Annual Curriculum Summit on December 7 - 8, 2010. All of the presentation materials and handouts from these various meetings will be posted on our website. Our goal is to provide districts with expanded support and resources during this school year, to support full implementation of the updated Massachusetts curriculum frameworks in the 2012-2013 school year.

  2. Task Force on Evaluation of Teachers and Administrators. In accord with the Board's vote in May 2010, I have appointed a 41-member Task Force on Evaluation of Teachers and Administrators to help overhaul the state's current regulations and guidelines governing the evaluation of the state's 80,000 licensed teachers and administrators. The formation of this task force reflects the approach to teacher and administrator evaluation that we set forth in our successful Race to Top application. The task force is charged to recommend changes to the evaluation system that:
    • Provide honest, fair, and improvement-oriented feedback annually;
    • Differentiate by career stage and allow flexibility for additional measures of effectiveness beyond those required in the framework;
    • Establish a two-year cycle of improvement via a formative assessment and summative evaluation based on a continuous improvement plan for every educator;
    • Differentiate performance by at least three rating categories based on student growth as a significant factor;
    • Incorporate categories of appropriate data and information in evaluations; and
    • Link comprehensive evaluation to key personnel decisions.

    The task force and its associated working groups will meet twice a month between September and January, and will recommend a set of revised regulations and principles no later than January 31, 2011. I will present a more detailed report on the task force to the Board in October.

  3. Federal Education Jobs funding. On August 10 President Obama signed Public Law No. 111-226, which provides additional federal recovery funding to states. Title I of this law establishes a new "Education Jobs" program, allocating about $204 million to Massachusetts. On August 24 Governor Patrick announced that these funds will be allocated to K-12 school districts in conjunction with the state's Chapter 70 school funding formula, as follows:
    • $54.6 million will be used to replace a portion of the FY11 state fiscal stabilization fund (SFSF) allocations previously used to supplement the FY11 Chapter 70 program.
    • $143.6 million will be used to offset the previously announced 4% cut in most districts' Chapter 70 aid and to fully fund the minimum aid provision of the Chapter 70 formula at $25 per pupil.
    • $2.2 million will be used to fund Chapter 70 obligations for four districts as a result of recently approved local contribution waivers authorized by statute.
    • $3.6 million has been reserved for state-level grant administration, monitoring, oversight, and reporting activities.

    As a result of this additional funding, the total Chapter 70 program (including state Chapter 70 aid, federal SFSF grants, and federal Education Jobs grants) will rise from $4.043 billion in FY10 to $4.072 billion in FY11, a $29 million or 0.7 percent increase. The primary purpose of the Education Jobs program is to allow local school districts to retain existing employees, to recall or rehire former employees, and to hire new employees for the 2010-11 school year.

  4. Greenfield Virtual School. At the July 21, 2010 special meeting, the Board adopted the virtual innovation school regulations and granted me the authority to act on any waiver request from the Greenfield Public Schools. After receiving assurances from Greenfield Superintendent Susan Hollins around three conditions, I approved the district's waiver request for a reduction of the minimum resident enrollment requirement, in 603 CMR 48.05(2)(b), from 25 percent to 2 percent. The waiver is effective for the 2010-11 school year only. The three conditions the district agreed to comply with were: (1) to develop and submit an innovation plan to its school committee no later than the end of September; (2) to remove a provision in the contract with K12, Inc., that would have prohibited the company from providing similar services to any other Massachusetts school district, and (3) to ensure that all students, not just those eligible for free or reduced lunch, would receive computer equipment and support if requested.

  5. Gloucester Community Arts Charter School. I will update the Board on this matter at our September 21st meeting.

  6. State Student Advisory Council grant for dropout prevention. I am pleased to report that the State Student Advisory Council (SSAC), chaired by Board member Michael D'Ortenzio Jr., has applied for and been awarded a $15,000 grant through the America's Promise Alliance in conjunction with AT&T. The purpose of this "My Idea" grant is to empower high-school-aged youth to examine the high school dropout crisis and take action to help more youth to graduate on time. This is the third grant that the SSAC has received over the past four years; the others were a 2007 grant from the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) to expand communication among student leaders in Massachusetts and a 2008 grant from the Massachusetts Service Alliance to promote volunteerism.

    The SSAC will use the "My Idea" grant for a campaign to inform students in middle schools about the consequences of dropping out of school. The council will research the issues, design and conduct presentations for middle school audiences, and develop tools that may be used by students and schools after the grant period has ended. The grant will support transportation, printing costs, and campaign and meeting materials. The SSAC will work with Department staff who are leading current dropout prevention initiatives and with middle schools across the state that serve high risk students. The grant will fund activities from September 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Annual Meeting: Election of Vice-Chair - Discussion and Vote

    Under the Board's by-laws, the September meeting is the annual meeting of the Board, at which the vice-chair is elected. Chair Banta will call for nominations from Board members and then conduct the election. The vice-chair presides over meetings when the chair is not available.

  2. Update on Race to the Top - Discussion

    We are delighted that Massachusetts will receive $250 million in Race to the Top funding and will also participate in a 26-state consortium awarded $170 million in Race to the Top Assessment funding to develop a next-generation college and career readiness assessment system. At this month's meeting I will update you on next steps in both of these major initiatives.

  3. 2010 MCAS Results - Discussion

    The 2010 statewide results have been published and we will be releasing MCAS results for schools and districts on September 14. This meeting is an opportune time to review and discuss the MCAS results and student Competency Determination attainment rates.

  4. Report of the Proficiency Gap Task Force: Commissioner's Recommendations - Discussion

    We will continue the discussion of the report of the Board's Proficiency Gap Task Force, begun at the September 20 special meeting. I will present a response describing the Department's current activities related to the Task Force's recommendations as well as our next steps for implementation. My memo will be distributed to you prior to the meeting.

  5. Regulations to Implement Anti-Bullying Statute, 603 CMR 49.00 - Discussion and Vote

    The anti-bullying law that was enacted in May requires each school district, charter school, non-public school, approved day or residential school, and collaborative school to develop and implement a plan to address bullying prevention and intervention. The plan covers ten elements, including procedures for students and others to report bullying and retaliation to school authorities and procedures for schools to respond, investigate, and take disciplinary action as appropriate. One required element concerns notification by the school to parents/guardians and, under certain circumstances, to law enforcement. The statute directs the Board to promulgate regulations relating to the principal's duties under this provision. I presented proposed regulations to the Board in June for initial discussion. In accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, we have solicited and reviewed comment on the proposed regulations, and have made some changes as a result. I recommend that the Board adopt the final regulations.

  6. School and District Accountability and Assistance System - Discussion
    1. Presentation for September 9, 2010 Accountability Information Session for District and School Leaders
    2. School and District Accountability and Assistance - Level 3 Districts
    3. School and District Accountability and Assistance - Level 4 Schools
    4. Progress Report on the Department's Level 4 District Accountability and Assistance Work
    5. Update on Accountability and Assistance Work with the Fall River Public Schools
    6. Update on District Accountability Reviews

    Deputy Commissioner Karla Baehr and her staff have made great progress in implementing the new framework for school and district accountability and assistance and the regulations that the Board adopted in April 2010 following enactment of An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap. She will update the Board on various aspects of our work in this critical area.

  7. Process and Timelines for FY2012 Budget and Possible Legislative Proposals - Initial Discussion

    Now that we have the FY2011 state budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1, it is time to begin planning for the FY2012 budget. At this month's meeting we will review the anticipated calendar of the state budget cycle. In October, we will discuss possible budget priorities and program initiatives that the Board may wish to propose, as well as possible legislative proposals.

  8. State Student Advisory Council End-of-Year Report - Discussion

    The Board carried over this item from the June 2010 meeting agenda. Michael D'Ortenzio Jr. will present the 2009-2010 end-of-year report from the State Student Advisory Council. Michael has served with distinction as chair of the SSAC and as a member of this Board. We congratulate him on his re-election as 2010-2011 chair of the SSAC and member of the Board.

  9. Advisory Council Appointments and Annual Reports - Discussion

    The Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 established advisory councils to advise the Commissioner and the Board on matters related to improving public education and student achievement. The advisory councils are made up of volunteers who work with us to improve public education by providing advice and comment in specific program areas. This month I am presenting proposed appointments and reappointments of members to various advisory councils. If Board members would like to suggest additional names for consideration, please let me know. The Board will vote on the appointments at the October meeting. Also enclosed is a compilation of the 2010 annual reports from each of the advisory councils.

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 11 is a report on grants that I (or in one case, my designee) approved under a variety of state and federal grant programs, 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. Also enclosed is a memo on a charter school extended loan term that I approved under the authority delegated to me by the Board.

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you here in Malden on September 20 and 21.

Last Updated: September 16, 2010
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