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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the May 23, 2011 Special Meeting and the May 24, 2011 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
May 13, 2011


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's offices at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden. The regular 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 on Monday, May 23, 2011, from 5-7 p.m., at our offices in Malden. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call JC Considine at (781) 338-3112.


The Board's Monday evening meeting is an opportunity to discuss special education policy issues with Department staff, a national expert, and the chairs of the Board's advisory council. No votes will be taken. The regular meeting on Tuesday morning leads off with a continuing discussion on the proposed amendments to the regulations on Educator Evaluation, which the Board voted last month to send out for public comment. The agenda also includes discussion and action on: an amendment to the Competency Determination regulation pertaining to history and social science; several matters concerning virtual schools; and charter schools. The Board also will hear a report from the chair of the Advisory Council on School and District Accountability and Assistance.

Special Meeting

  1. Special Education Policy Issues - Presentations and Discussion
    1. Background Information and Data - Presentation by Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
    2. Ongoing Research on Identification, Placement, and Performance of Students with Disabilities - Prof. Thomas Hehir, Harvard Graduate School of Education
    3. Commentary - Advisory Council on Special Education
    4. Discussion

    The Board's special meetings are an opportunity to learn about and discuss educational issues in more depth than is possible at the regular business meetings. Our topic on May 23 is special education policy. Marcia (Marty) Mittnacht, who is state director of special education, will present an overview. Dr. Thomas Hehir, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and former director of special education in the U.S. Department of Education, the Chicago Public Schools, and the Boston Public Schools, will report on current research on identification, placement, and performance of students with disabilities. We will have the benefit of commentary from Jennie DunKley and Patricia Schram, Co-Chairs of the Board's Special Education Advisory Council. Most of our meeting time will be devoted to Board discussion and follow-up questions. Your packet includes the Department's most recent report to the Legislature on special education in Massachusetts. Additional materials will be distributed at the meeting. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and upcoming events. She will invite the chairs of the Board's committee on charter schools (Gerald Chertavian, chair) and the committee on the commissioner's performance evaluation (Beverly Holmes, chair) to give a brief update. Chair Banta will also recap the Board's Monday evening special meeting.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Special meetings. The Board's special meetings allow for more in-depth discussions than is generally possible at our regular business meetings. Besides the special meeting on the evening of May 23, please note that we have a special meeting scheduled for Monday, June 27, from 5-7 p.m. The tentative topic is: Recap of the Year; Connecting Agendas.

  2. New student survey questions. It has been our practice over the years to administer a student survey in conjunction with the 8th and 10th grade MCAS. To further the Board and Department's priorities, this spring we have added questions that secure student perception of their school's culture and climate. The survey questions, which are being administered this month, build on the research of Ron Ferguson and Tom Kane of Harvard University that has demonstrated a nexus between student perception of their schooling experience and achievement outcomes. I anticipate that late this fall we will be able to report our insights based on analysis of this first year's data.

  3. Listening tour on proposed educator evaluation regulations. I have scheduled four regional meetings on the proposed amendments to the educator evaluation regulations for June 1, 6, 7, and 9. The meetings are targeted to teachers and administrators and are being held from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. The meetings provide an opportunity for Karla and I to present the recommendations and secure feedback and input from educators. We are working with the statewide associations to encourage teacher and administrator participation.

  4. Unprecedented opportunities to support our instructional force. We continue to be actively involved in conversations with other states about pooling our resources and expertise in the development of curriculum resources and instructional materials. These efforts will support our schools' implementation of our new Frameworks in Mathematics and English Language Arts - and support high quality science, social studies and history, and the arts instructional programs. In addition to ongoing conversations among Race to the Top grantee states, we are engaged with Rhode Island and New York State in joint efforts to develop resources for teachers and administrators. As three Race to the Top winners that are in close geographic proximity, our staffs are able to meet without getting on a plane. The collective expertise (as well as fiscal resources) across the three states promises to be greater than any single state.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items For Discussion and Action

  1. Educator Evaluation: Overview of Proposed Regulations and Implementation Plan - Continuing Discussion

    At our April 27 meeting, the Board voted to solicit public comment on proposed amendments to the Regulations on Educator Evaluation. Following the public comment period, I expect to bring back the regulations for final action by the Board on June 28. At this month's meeting, Deputy Commissioner Karla Baehr and I will review specific features of the proposed regulations and discuss with the Board our plans for assisting schools and districts to implement the new system.

  2. Amendment to Competency Determination Requirement in History and Social Science, 603 CMR 30.04(3) - Discussion and Vote

    At the March 2011 meeting, the Board voted to solicit public comment on a proposed amendment to the Competency Determination (CD) regulation pertaining to history and social science. The amendment would delete an obsolete regulation and replace it with a regulation stating 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. Our intent is that implementation of the requirement would also 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 Department has reviewed the comments on the proposed regulation, which are included and summarized in your packet under Tab 2. I recommend that the Board adopt the regulation as presented. Bob Bickerton, Senior Associate Commissioner, will be available at the meeting to answer any questions.

  3. Virtual Innovation Schools: Waiver Requests from Greenfield and Hadley Public Schools; Legislative Proposal on Virtual Schools - Discussion and Vote

    Our special meeting on April 26 gave us the opportunity to hear several different perspectives on the emergence of virtual schools as an educational option for parents and students. Based on the Board's discussion at that meeting and previous meetings on this topic, I am recommending that the Board vote this month to endorse a draft legislative proposal on virtual schools, and that you defer action on new virtual schools until the Legislature has had the opportunity to consider this proposal. The memorandum and accompanying materials under Tab 3 present the information in detail. Senior Associate Commissioner Jeff Wulfson will join us for the discussion.

  4. Report from Advisory Council on School and District Accountability and Assistance - Discussion

    Joseph Esposito, CFO (retired) of Solid Works and former member of the Educational Management Audit Council, chairs the Board's 15-member Advisory Council on School and District Accountability and Assistance. Deputy Commissioner Karla Baehr and others in the Department have been working with the advisory council as we implement our redesigned system for accountability and assistance. By statute, the advisory council is to present its findings and recommendations to the Board at least two times a year. Mr. Esposito will present the council's May 2011 report.

Charter Schools

  1. Report on Conditions at Gloucester Community Arts Charter School - Discussion and Possible Vote

    The Board voted in December 2010 to remove the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School from probation and to impose eight conditions on the school's charter. This month I will present a report on the school's progress in meeting the conditions and my recommendation for next steps. Because our review of the documentation is continuing, I will send the report to the Board during the week of May 16.

  2. Report on Conditions and Recommendation: New Leadership Charter School - Discussion and Vote

    In February 2008, the Board renewed the charter of New Leadership Charter School, a Horace Mann charter school located in Springfield. The renewal was made with seven conditions concerning the school's academic success, organizational viability, and faithfulness to the terms of its charter. For the reasons discussed in my memo under Tab 6, I am recommending that the Board vote at this month's meeting to place the school on probation with additional conditions.

Other Items For Information

  1. District Accountability: Level 4 District Accountability and Assistance Update

    At the Board's March 2011 meeting, we presented materials describing a new approach to intervening in Level 4 (underperforming) school districts. The memo enclosed under Tab 7 outlines key features of the new Level 4 district requirements and provides an update on the Department's progress in implementing the system.

  2. District Accountability: Promising Practice Reviews on Education of English Language Learners

    Enclosed under Tab 8 is a report on the district accountability reviews that focused on identifying promising practices for English language learners. Eleven district reviews that the Department conducted in 2010 sought to identify systems and practices that contribute to positive results, as well as those that may be impeding rapid improvement. We engaged an independent research analyst to examine the findings, ascertain trends, and help identify potential implications for policy and practice. The enclosed report, An Analysis of District Systems and Practices Addressing the Needs of English Language Learners, identifies practices that appear to be having a positive impact on achievement of English language learners.

  3. Update on MassCore Initiatives

    The report under Tab 9 provides an update on MassCore initiatives, through which we aim to increase the percentage of students graduating from public high schools prepared to succeed in first-year, credit-bearing college courses and in entry level jobs with career opportunities.

  4. FY2012 House Education Budget

    Under Tab 10 is a review and analysis of the FY2012 House education budget. We expect to receive the Senate Ways & Means Committee's FY2012 budget proposal during the week of May 16.

  5. Education-Related News Clippings

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

  6. Report on Grants and Charter School Matters Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 12 is a memo reporting on grants that I approved under several federal and state grant programs between April 12 and April 29, 2011, 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 under Tab 12 is a memo on a charter school extended loan term that I have approved pursuant to the charter school statute, M.G.L. c. 71, sec. 89(k)(6).

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the Department on May 23 and 24.

Last Updated: May 20, 2011
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