Mass.gov
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Go to Selected Program Area
Massachusetts State Seal
Students & Families Educators & Administrators Teaching, Learning & Testing Data & Accountability Finance & Funding About the Department Education Board  
>
>
>
>
>
>
>

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Proposed Amendment to Competency Determination Requirement in History and Social Science, 603 CMR 30.03(4)

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
March 11, 2011

line

Purpose

The purpose of this memorandum is to discuss and seek your approval to solicit public comment on a proposed amendment to the Competency Determination regulation as it pertains to history and social science, and also to describe initiatives we have underway to promote and support teaching and learning in this important area.

Background

State law (Mass. Gen. Laws Chapter 69, Section 1D) requires students to earn a Competency Determination (CD) in order to be eligible for high school graduation. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has defined the academic standards for the CD in the Competency Determination Regulations, 603 CMR 30.

In February 2009, the Board voted to delay implementation of the CD requirement in history and social science (603 CMR 30.03(4)) and to suspend MCAS history and social science tests in grades 5, 7, and high school, due to budget constraints. Originally, the CD requirement in history and social science (specifically, U.S. history) was scheduled to take effect with the class of 2012. Acknowledging the temporary suspension of these tests and the lack of funding for additional academic support services for students, the Board voted to waive this CD requirement for the classes of 2012 and 2013.

In the fall of 2010, the Board voted to include in its FY 2012 budget request additional funding to resume history and social science testing and to increase academic supports for students. These funding requests were not included in the House 1 budget proposal. Consequently, we are likely to enter FY 2012 without the resources the Department and schools need to implement the MCAS history and social science testing program in the next school year.

Proposed Amendment

Given these circumstances, I recommend that the Board adopt an amendment to the CD regulation that would delete the obsolete reference to the classes of 2012 and 2013. Rather than establishing a new fixed date, however, I am proposing that the CD requirement for history and social science would take effect in the third consecutive year that the history and social science high school assessment is administered, in order to provide fair notice to students and schools about performance levels and expectations before the assessment counts towards the CD. I would further propose that implementation of the requirement be contingent upon the appropriation of additional academic support funds targeted for students who fail or are at risk of failing to meet the CD standard in history and social science.

The proposed amendment would replace the current regulation, 603 CMR 30.03(4), which reads as follows:

(4) Students starting with the graduating class of 2012, in addition to meeting the requirements contained in 603 CMR 30.02(2) and (3), shall meet or exceed the Needs Improvement scaled score of 220 on the History and Social Science high school MCAS test.

The proposed new regulation would read as follows:

(4) Starting in the third consecutive year that the History and Social Science high school assessment is administered, in addition to meeting the requirements contained in 603 CMR 30.02(2) and (3), students shall meet or exceed the passing standard on the History and Social Science high school assessment.

The recommended amendment accomplishes three important objectives. First, since we do not yet know when funding for this assessment will be appropriated, the amendment pegs implementation of the CD requirement to the time when it is in its third consecutive year of administration, whenever that may be. Second, once testing in this area begins, the amendment calls for two years of testing in which there are no state consequences for students. As such, the schedule provides fair notice about performance expectations, enabling students and educators to prepare for the time when students must pass the assessment as a condition for graduating. We followed a similar schedule when we introduced tests in English language arts, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering. Finally, by referring to the high school assessment (rather than test) in history and social science, the amendment anticipates the next generation of MCAS, which may include performance-based, curriculum-embedded components.

With the Board's approval, we would solicit public comment on the proposed regulation in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, and then expect to bring it back to the Board for final action at the May meeting of the Board.

Initiatives to Promote Teaching and Learning of History and Social Science

I am deeply committed to the teaching and learning of history and social science as part of a well-rounded curriculum, and understand the role that state assessment can play to promote this important work. We have a strong curriculum framework in this core academic area. The teaching of history and social science is critical to understanding our cultural heritage and participating effectively in a democratic society. Moreover, the teaching of history and social science in elementary schools is essential to students' ability to read and comprehend both literary and informational text. Accordingly, the Department is implementing several initiatives that promote and support teaching and learning in history and social science.

First, by adopting the new Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts, the Board has already taken an important step to highlight the role that history and social science teachers play in developing students' literacy skills. Included in the framework are standards for reading and writing in history and social science as well as for science and technical subjects.

In addition, we plan to use our federal Race to the Top grant to engage history and social science educators to develop, pilot, and deploy the following tools and resources:

  • Model curricula based on the current history and social science curriculum framework;
  • Suggested resources and tools for implementing the curriculum;
  • Curriculum-embedded performance tasks designed to both instruct and assess student proficiency; and
  • Tools to assist educators in developing local assessments in history and social science.

I look forward to our discussion about the proposed amendment and our teaching and learning initiatives in history and social science.

Attachment:

Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Regulation with proposed amendment highlighted
 
Motion to solicit public comment


Last Updated: March 15, 2011
E-mail this page| Print View| Print Pdf  
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Search·Public Records Requests · A-Z Site Index · Policies · Site Info · Contact ESE