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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Scheduling of FY12 Comprehensive Audits and Reviews

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
October 14, 2011

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Chapter 15, section 55A of the General Laws, as amended by Chapter 311 of the Acts of 2008, includes a provision regarding the scheduling of major reviews to reduce administrative burdens on schools and districts. In particular, section 55A 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). At the December 21, 2010 meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Board delegated to the Commissioner henceforth the authority to act on behalf of the Board in carrying out the provisions of G.L. chapter 15, section 55A, relating to the scheduling of multiple comprehensive audits or reviews, as follows (excerpt from minutes of December 21, 2010 Board meeting; emphasis added):

On a motion duly made and seconded, it was:

VOTED:Further, that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, in accordance with General Laws chapter 15, section 1F, paragraph 3, authorize the Commissioner to act on behalf of the Board henceforth in allowing multiple comprehensive audits or reviews of schools and districts within a nine-month period per General Laws chapter 15, section 55A. The Commissioner shall report to the Board on any such scheduling decisions that he makes on the Board's behalf.

The vote was unanimous.

The phrase "comprehensive audits or reviews" includes audits conducted by our center for district and school accountability (CDSA), coordinated program reviews (CPRs) conducted by our office of program quality assurance, 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 all comprehensive audits and reviews to minimize scheduling conflicts. This year, however, several unavoidable conflicts have been noted. These conflicts are as follows:

  • Everett will receive a NEASC review of Everett High School in October 2011 and a CDSA review in April 2012. Any potentially conflicting visits to EHS will be avoided, in collaboration with the principal and superintendent.
  • The NEASC review of Minnechaug Regional High School in Hampden-Wilbraham Regional District is scheduled for October 2011, and the district's CPR review is scheduled for May 2012. The district has completed the self-assessment phase of the CPR review, which includes documentation and student record review for Special Education and Civil Rights, as part of the web-based monitoring approach that is now used. Only documentation preparation for one program area, English Learner Education, will be completed in the spring of 2012.
  • Middleborough is scheduled to have both CPR and CDSA reviews in April 2012. The interim superintendent agreed to both visits to provide planning information for the incoming superintendent.
  • Narragansett Regional will receive a CPR review in November 2011. The CDSA review of Narragansett Regional was postponed until October 2012, at the superintendent's request.
  • Northampton will have a CDSA review in February 2012 and a NEASC review of Northampton High School in April 2012. Any potentially conflicting visits to NHS will be avoided, in collaboration with the principal and superintendent.
  • Stoneham will have a CPR review in December 2011 and a CDSA review in April 2012. The CDSA review was changed to this date at the superintendent's request.
  • The CPR review of Wakefield was conducted last school year in April 2011, prior to NEASC setting a date for its review of Wakefield Memorial High School. Therefore, this conflict could not be resolved.
  • A NEASC review of Wareham High School in Wareham will be conducted in October 2011, and a CDSA review is scheduled for February 2012. Any potentially conflicting visits to WHS will be avoided, in collaboration with the principal and superintendent.
  • Weston High School in Weston will have a NEASC review in October 2011 and the district's CPR review is scheduled for May 2012. Weston has completed the self-assessment phase for the areas of Special Education and Civil Rights as part of the web-based monitoring approach, and only the English Learner Education program area will be assessed in spring of 2012.

In most instances, districts were given the opportunity to postpone the reviews that fall within the nine-month window proscribed by the statute, and we made adjustments to the schedule in accordance with their requests. After making adjustments, we notified each of the districts listed above, and they have presented no objection to the Department conducting the reviews under our purview. Consequently, I will allow the multiple reviews for these schools and districts within the nine-month period.

Consistent with the statute, the Department will continue to strive to minimize the administrative burdens caused by multiple audits or reviews. I will approve multiple comprehensive audits or reviews of a district or school within a nine-month period only if an emergency arises, conflicts are unavoidable, or we are able to negotiate a satisfactory schedule with the district or school. I will continue to report to the Board on any such decisions that I make under the authority delegated to me.



Last Updated: October 21, 2011
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