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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the February 27, 2012 Special Meeting and the February 28, 2012 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
February 17, 2012

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 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 evening, February 27, 2012, 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 (5-7 p.m. on February 27, 2012), we will have an opportunity for public comment and Board discussion on proposed new charters, and then the Board will hear about and discuss the proposed regulations on educator preparation and training for Sheltered English Immersion (the RETELL initiative). At the regular meeting on Tuesday morning the Board will discuss reports on several key high school indicators; discuss the ESEA flexibility waiver we have been granted; continue the discussion on the RETELL initiative and take a vote on sending out proposed regulations for public comment; get an update on the Lawrence Public Schools receivership and the FY2013 state education budget; and discuss and vote on new charters and a charter renewal.

Special Meeting

We have two items on the agenda for our Monday evening special meeting. First, we are providing an opportunity for additional public comment (beyond the public hearings that Board members chaired in various communities) and Board discussion on the new charter applicants. Second, the Board will hear a presentation on the proposed regulations on educator preparation and training for Sheltered English Immersion (the RETELL initiative) and be able to discuss this initiative in depth. Joining Senior Associate Commissioner Bob Bickerton, Associate Commissioner Julia Phelps, and ELL Director Esta Montano will be Professor Nonie Lesaux of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner, who are among the experts advising our Department on this major initiative. We have also invited representatives of the Board's Advisory Council on English Language Learners to the meeting. It should be an interesting and informative session. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and activities and will invite the chairs of Board committees to present updates.

Comments from the Commissioner

Educator evaluation and Secretary Duncan's visit. The Department has been holding a series of workshops and information sessions on the educator evaluation system that the Board approved in June 2011. We were honored to have U.S. Education Secy. Arne Duncan attend the session on February 6th that we held at Boston University. Secy. Duncan was impressed with the leadership that the Massachusetts education community has shown on this issue.

Shared Learning Infrastructure. The Shared Learning Infrastructure (SLI) is a multi-state initiative led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation to provide school districts with a common information management system to attract high quality instructional resources and tools at lower cost. Massachusetts is one of five Race to the Top states (also including New York, North Carolina, Illinois and Colorado) to join in Phase 1 one of the project. The initial planning and technology costs of the project are funded by the foundations for the next 30 months and our Department has agreed to make internal resources available during the development. Version one of the system is scheduled for the end of 2012. In addition to our agency's involvement, each state has designated a pilot district to be included. We are pleased that Everett Public Schools has agreed to join us in partnership under the leadership of Assistant Superintendent Dr. Thomas Stella. I will keep the Board informed as this initiative proceeds.

Tri - State Collaboration on Curriculum. One of our Race to the Top projects involves the development of model curriculum units, aligned to the 2011 Massachusetts Frameworks incorporating the Common Core State Standards, in the content areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, and history/social studies. Other Race to the Top states have identified similar projects, and to that end, we have joined forces with New York and Rhode Island in creating a scoring rubric that will be used to assess the quality of the units that each state is developing. When the rubric is complete and has been approved by all three states, we will use it to evaluate the quality of all of our model units in English language arts and mathematics, pre K - 12. In addition, we will modify the rubric to assess our science and history/social studies units. The work of this Tri-state Collaboration was featured at a recent meeting, organized by Achieve, focusing on how states can collaborate, create high quality products, and leverage their resources.

Teaching and Learning System. Also through Race to the Top, the Department is creating a Teaching and Learning System that will include curriculum tools (curriculum maps, model units and lesson plans), digital resources (e.g. PBS Learning Media), assessment tools (released MCAS items and other local assessments), and student information (e.g. MSAC results, attendance data). Over the past eight months, we have collaborated with the Ohio Department of Education to develop specifications and requirements for this system. While most of the elements are common to both states, each state also has identified unique specifications to meet the needs of their particular stakeholders. Our collaboration with Ohio has allowed us to validate our vision for the Teaching and Learning System and increase our resources for this project.

New staff members. I am pleased to introduce to the Board three administrators who recently joined the Department. In alphabetical order, they are Quinton Dale, Patricia Gregson, and Manuel Monteiro.

  • Quinton ("Q") Dale is our new Chief of Investigations in the Office of Professional Practices, a part of the Legal Office. Q will work closely with our legal staff and with the Offices of Educator Licensure and Student Assessment. He has substantial expertise and experience, having served for the last 10 years as Director of the Investigations Division in the Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth.
  • Patricia ("Pati") Gregson is our new Associate Commissioner for Vocational, Workforce, and College Readiness Programs. She will lead the work of the Career / Vocational Technical Education unit, the College and Career Readiness unit, and the Adult and Community Learning Services unit. Pati was most recently Vice President for Access and Transition at Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC), where she worked for 12 years. Throughout her career she has built partnerships and promoted best practices in dropout prevention, college readiness activities, and creating multiple pathways for youth towards high school graduation and success in postsecondary education and careers.
  • Manuel Monteiro has joined the Department as Special Assistant to the Commissioner. He has 30 years of experience as a senior level manager in various educational settings, first in the Boston Public Schools and then at Boston University (BU) where he served as Executive Director of Personnel and Associate Vice President. For 15 years, Manuel served as a member of the Boston University/Chelsea Partnership Management Team, in addition to serving as the Chelsea Public Schools' chief labor negotiator on behalf of the Partnership and successfully negotiating contracts with the Chelsea Teachers Union, the Paraprofessionals Union, and the Chelsea Administrators Association. Manuel will represent me in our work with the Lawrence Public Schools. In addition, he will work closely with Senior Associate Commissioner Lynda Foisy on the district turnaround efforts with the Level 4 districts.

Legislative matters. Several bills of interest to the Board are moving through the legislative process, including the educational collaboratives bill. I will update the Board at the February 28th meeting.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Key High School Indicators for Massachusetts: Reports on 2011 Graduation and High School Dropout Rates and Advanced Placement Participation - Discussion

    The Department recently released data reports on the annual dropout rate for the 2010-11 school year, the four-year graduation rate for the 2011 cohort, the five-year graduation rate for the 2010 cohort, and performance on Advanced Placement exams for the class of 2011. The news is heartening, and is a tribute to educators and students throughout the Commonwealth as well as to initiatives that we have launched. Each report shows significant improvement compared to previous years. The memo under Tab 1 summarizes the data reports, which are also included in your packet. I look forward to discussing these reports with you.

  2. ESEA Flexibility Waiver Request Granted: Overview and Next Steps - Discussion

    I am very pleased that on February 9th, the U.S. Department of Education formally approved the flexibility waiver application that we submitted on behalf of Massachusetts under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Board discussed and voted to endorse the proposed flexibility waiver in October 2011. At our February meeting I will review the changes to Massachusetts' district and school accountability and assistance system that are associated with approval of this waiver request.

  3. English Language Learners: Proposed Regulations on Educator Preparation and Training Required for Sheltered English Immersion (RETELL Initiative) - Continuing Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    At the regular meeting on Tuesday we will continue the discussion that we began at the Monday evening special meeting on the RETELL initiative. As outlined in the memo under Tab 3, I am recommending that the Board vote this month to solicit public comment on proposed amendments to the regulations on educator licensure and preparation program approval (603 CMR 7.00), English language learner programs (603 CMR 14.00) and educator license renewal (603 CMR 44.00). With the Board's approval, we plan to use the public comment period to continue our discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice, meet with all key stakeholder groups including school officials, teacher associations, experts, and advocates to get their input, further refine the regulations and implementation plan, and come back to the Board in May for discussion and vote on the final regulations.

  4. Update on Level 5 District Designation for Lawrence Public Schools - Discussion

    I will update the Board on actions that the Lawrence Public Schools receiver, Jeffrey C. Riley, has taken since our report last month. I am impressed with Jeff Riley's energy and educational ideas, and I am very hopeful that his leadership, supported by the Department, will bring about the transformative change we have been advocating for the school district.

  5. FY2013 Education Budget Proposal from the Governor - Discussion

    Secretary Reville and I will brief the Board on next steps in the FY2013 education budget process.

Charter Schools:

  1. New Charter Applicants - Discussion and Vote

    By statute, the Board votes on the approval on new charter schools at its February meeting. In this 2011-2012 charter school application cycle, the Department received seven prospectuses in July 2011. Following a review of these prospectuses by the Department's staff and external reviewers, I invited all seven applicant groups to submit final applications. One subsequently withdrew from the process. I am recommending approval of four applications: Baystate Academy Charter School, Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School, Lowell Collegiate Charter School, and Paulo Freire Social. I am not recommending Springfield Preparatory Charter School and Somerville Progressive Charter School for new charters.

    The memorandum under tab 6 includes my recommendations with respect to each of these applications, followed by the detailed evaluation materials prepared by the Department's charter school office. Per the amendment to the Charter School Regulations that the Board adopted in December 2009 (603 CMR 1.04(3)(b)), Chair Banta will ask the Board members who attended each public hearing on a proposed charter school to report to the Board on the hearing.

  2. Request for Charter Renewal and Amendment: Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School - Discussion and Vote

    The Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School (PVCICS) submitted an application for renewal and a major amendment request in August 2011. Based on the evidence summarized in the memo under Tab 7, and further outlined in the Summary of Review included with the memo, I recommend that the Board renew the charter for PVCICS with conditions related to charter school governance. Further, for reasons explained in the memo, at this time I am not recommending that the Board grant PVCICS its major amendment request.

  3. Request for Review of Amendment Decision: Conservatory Lab Charter School - Discussion and Possible Vote

    In July 2011, Conservatory Lab Charter School submitted a request to amend the school's charter to add 30 additional seats and two additional grades (7 and 8). In December 2011, I notified the school that I had denied the request. My decision was not in any way a reflection on CLCS and its program. Rather, it was based on the charter cap in Boston, and the fact that we had informed potential applicants for charter seats in Boston that we would not consider requests in the 2011-2012 cycle. I believe it would be unfair to award any new Boston seats this year, even a small number, without giving all interested schools the opportunity to compete. The Board's regulations allow a charter school to ask the Board to review a decision by the Commissioner to deny an amendment request. The school wishes to seek such a review, and so the matter now comes before the Board. If the Board takes no formal action, then the denial stands.

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 10 you will find reports on grants and charter school matters that I approved since the last Board meeting, under the authority that the Board has delegated to me.

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the Department on February 27 and 28.

Last Updated: February 27, 2012
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