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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the November 28, 2011 Special Meeting and the November 29, 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
November 18, 2011


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, November 29, 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, November 28, 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.


At the Board's Monday evening special meeting we will discuss the plan for identifying and intervening in Level 5 (chronically underperforming) districts. We will use most of the meeting time to hear from local officials and other community representatives from Lawrence. No votes will be taken on Monday. At the regular meeting on Tuesday morning we will continue the discussion of Level 5 districts and the Lawrence Public Schools, with a possible vote on designating Lawrence as a Level 5 district. The Board will receive and discuss an update on Level 4 (underperforming) schools. Other items on the Tuesday agenda for discussion and vote are the Board's budget proposal for FY2013, an update on innovation schools and proposed amendments to those regulations, and some charter school amendments.

Special Meeting

1. Plan for Identifying and Intervening in Level 5 Districts - Discussion

2. Lawrence Public Schools - Statements from School District and Municipal Officials and Other Community Representatives per 603 CMR 2.06(1)(f)

At the special meeting on November 28 we will discuss briefly the plan for identifying and intervening in Level 5 (chronically underperforming) districts. Most of our meeting time will be devoted to hearing statements from school district and municipal officials and other community representatives from Lawrence. Under the Board's Regulations on School and District Accountability and Assistance, 603 CMR 2.06(1) (f), the Board can take final action to place a district in Level 5 only after providing an opportunity for "school district and municipal officials, including the school committee, as well as the local teachers' union or association president or designee, a representative of the local parent organization, and members of the public" to be heard. The November 28 meeting provides that opportunity. Lawrence officials and members of the public are being invited to the special meeting. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and activities, including the recent Education Summit convened by Governor Patrick and the Board's planning retreat on November 2. She will announce appointments to various committees of the Board as well as the new task force on workforce readiness.

Comments from the Commissioner

1. ESEA flexibility waiver request. On November 14, as planned, we submitted our a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education seeking flexibility from certain provisions of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Our waiver application is summarized in the press release under Tab 8. I am confident that our plan maintains the state's high standards and expectations of increasing performance for all students. It will allow us to unify our federal and state accountability systems and target resources to the schools in greatest need. I will update the Board as we receive feedback from the U.S. Department of Education.

2. Fourth Annual Summit on Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. On October 15 and 16, 2011, I attended the 4th Annual Curriculum Summit that the Department has sponsored. Over 700 district leaders from across the state participated. This year, the presentations focused on the Department's goals to prepare students for college and careers, increase student achievement in grade three literacy, and improve student performance in grade 8 mathematics, as well as featuring several of our Race to the Top projects. The Race to the Top projects included implementing our new frameworks in mathematics and English language arts, which incorporate the Common Core State Standards, developing model curriculum units, and curriculum- embedded performance assessments. District leaders also had the opportunity to learn about our initiatives in the areas of arts assessment, foreign language programs, and the Massachusetts Tiered System of Support. I opened each day of the Summit with an update on our work related to these projects and others.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

School and District Accountability and Assistance:

1. Plan for Identifying and Intervening in Level 5 Districts - Continuing Discussion

We will continue the discussion from the Monday evening special meeting on the plan for identifying and intervening in Level 5 (chronically underperforming) districts.

2. Lawrence Public Schools - Continuing Discussion and Possible Vote on Level 5 Designation

At the October 2011 Board meeting we discussed the 2011 District Review Report on the Lawrence Public Schools, which raises grave concerns about the capacity of the Lawrence Public School system to make the changes necessary to raise student achievement to acceptable performance levels. The situation has prompted us to consider the possibility of designating the district as Level 5 ("chronically underperforming") in order to intervene decisively on behalf of the students in Lawrence. Mayor Lantigua recently called for state receivership of the school district. We will be hearing from Lawrence officials and community representatives at the Monday evening special meeting. At the meeting on Tuesday, November 29, we will continue the discussion and I may recommend a vote at that time.

3. Update on Level 4 Schools - Discussion

In March 2010, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted regulations to identify and intervene in Level 4 ("underperforming") schools. At that time, we identified 35 Level 4 schools representing nine districts and serving 18,924 students. On November 15, 2011, we identified six additional Level 4 schools in four districts serving 2,829 students. Under Tab 3 is an update on the planning, funding, and turnaround work currently taking place in Level 4 schools. We will discuss the report at the November 29 meeting.


4. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Budget Proposal for FY 2013 - Discussion and Vote

The Board's budget committee has met several times and will report at our November 29 Board meeting. The budget committee's recommended FY 2013 priorities are enclosed behind Tab 4. The Board will vote on the budget at the November 29 meeting. Per Mass. General Laws c. 69, § 1A, I will transmit the Board's recommendations to the Secretary of Education, who "shall then prepare and submit a budget request on behalf of the department to the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on education, and the secretary of administration and finance."

Innovation Schools:

5. Update on Innovation Schools - Discussion

The Department has been working with the Executive Office of Education (EOE) to implement the Innovation Schools initiative, one key component of the 2010 Achievement Gap Act. Innovation Schools, which are approved by the school committee, are in-district schools that can operate with increased autonomy and flexibility. The intent of the law is to encourage innovative educational strategies to improve student achievement while keeping school funding within districts. EOE has prepared an update on the Innovation Schools initiative, which you will find under Tab 5. At our meeting, Secretary Reville and Bridget Rodriguez, Director of Planning and Collaboration at the Executive Office of Education, and Marlon Davis, Director of our Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign, will present the report and respond to your questions.

6. Proposed Amendments to Regulations on Innovation Schools, 603 CMR 48.00 - Initial Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

This month I am presenting to the Board, for initial discussion and a vote to solicit public comment, proposed amendments to 603 CMR 48.00, the Innovation Schools Regulations. The Board adopted the regulations in July 2010. The proposed amendments provide additional definitions and clarify the approval process for new or conversion Innovation Schools. With the Board's approval, we will solicit public comments on these proposed changes and bring the amendments back to the Board for a final vote in January 2012.

Charter Schools:

7. Amendments Proposed for Charter Schools - Discussion and Vote

Pursuant to the Charter School Regulations, 603 CMR 1.11(1), the Board must approve major changes in the material terms of a school's charter. This year we received requests from eleven existing schools for increases in their maximum enrollment and, in some cases, expansions in the grades served. I am recommending approval of requests from two charter schools, the Hill View Montessori Charter Public School, and the Salem Academy Charter School. These requests are described in detail in the memo under Tab 7.

Other Items for Information

8. ESEA Flexibility Waiver Request: Press Release

Enclosed under Tab 8 is the press release on the request we submitted on November 14 to the U.S. Department of Education seeking flexibility from certain provisions of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).

9. Education-Related News Clippings

Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

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

Enclosed is a report on federal grants I approved since the Board's September meeting, under the Board's October 2008 delegation of authority to the Commissioner. I also approved a charter school matter under the Board's delegation of authority to the Commissioner, as described in the enclosed memo.

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the Department on November 28 and 29.

Last Updated: November 21, 2011
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