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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
April 13, 2012

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Briefing for the April 23, 2012 Special Meeting and the April 24, 2012 Regular Meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, April 24, 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, April 23, 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.

Overview

At the Board's Monday evening special meeting (5-7 p.m. on April 23, 2012), we will discuss special education policy issues with Department staff and Professor Thomas Hehir, a national expert whose recent report on Massachusetts will be our focus. No votes will be taken. At the regular meeting on Tuesday morning the Board will recap the special meeting and then discuss a research report on school turnaround and an update on the Lawrence Public Schools. We are presenting regulatory amendments in the following areas for initial review and a vote to solicit public comment: accountability and assistance for school districts and schools (amendments to align with the ESEA flexibility that the U.S. Department of Education has granted to Massachusetts), educator licensure and preparation program approval (reporting and accountability for educator preparation programs, updated English as a Second Language educator license standards, and other changes), and access to equal educational opportunity (amendments to protect students against discrimination based on gender identity, as required by the new state law that takes effect on July 1, 2012). We will also have an update on FY2013 education budget activity in the House.

Special Meeting

  1. Special Education Policy Issues - Presentations and Discussion
    1. Background Information and Data -Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
    2. Review of Special Education in Massachusetts - Professor Thomas Hehir, Harvard Graduate School of Education
    3. 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 April 23 is special education policy. Marcia (Marty) Mittnacht, who is state director of special education will present background information and data. 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 present his report on the study he and his associates conducted at my request on the current state of special education in the Commonwealth. This is a thoughtful and timely report that should generate constructive discussion and action. Most of our meeting time will be devoted to Board discussion and follow-up questions. Your packet includes Dr. Hehir's report. Additional materials will be distributed at the meeting. No votes will be taken at the special meeting. It should be an interesting session on this important topic.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and activities. She will also ask the chairs of Board committees to update the Board on committee activities, including the charter school committee (Beverly Holmes) and the TELL Mass survey (Ruth Kaplan).

Comments from the Commissioner

Teacher Incentive Fund grant. As I reported to you earlier this month, the Boston Public Schools and Boston Teachers Union were unable to reach an agreement on use of the federal Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant, and as a result we will be reallocating the funds. I will update the Board at the April 24 meeting.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Special Education Policy Issues - Recap of Discussion from Special Meeting

    We will recap the discussion on special education policy issues from the Monday evening meeting.

  2. Report on School Turnaround: Emerging Practices in Rapid Achievement Gain Schools: An Analysis of 2010-2011 Level 4 Schools - Discussion

    In November 2011, I updated the Board on the performance of Level 4 ("underperforming") schools. The Department subsequently commissioned an analysis to evaluate which policies and strategies were most effective in the Level 4 schools showing accelerated improvement. At the April 24 Board meeting, we will present the findings of this study. The report, Emerging Practices in Rapid Achievement Gain Schools: An Analysis of 2010-2011 Level 4 Schools, is included under Tab 2. Senior Associate Commissioner Lynda Foisy and Jesse Dixon of our staff will present the report.

  3. Lawrence Public Schools
    1. Update on Receivership - Discussion
      I will update the Board on the actions that Jeff Riley, Superintendent/Receiver of the Lawrence Public Schools, has taken since our report last month. Key activities are described in the memo and attachments under Tab 3(a).
    2. Request for Waiver of School Finance Regulations on Extraordinary Maintenance (603 CMR 10.02) - Discussion and Vote
      Lawrence Superintendent/Receiver Jeff Riley has identified ten urgent school building repairs he would like to undertake. For the reasons explained in the memo under Tab 3(b), these projects warrant a waiver of the extraordinary maintenance limitation in our School Finance Regulations, and I recommend that the Board vote to approve the waiver. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson has been working with the receiver on this matter and will be at the meeting to answer any questions you may have.
  4. Proposed Amendments to Accountability and Assistance Regulations, 603 CMR 2.00 - Initial Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    We are presenting to the Board this month, for initial review and a vote to solicit public comment, proposed amendments to the regulations on Accountability and Assistance for School Districts and Schools, 603 CMR 2.00. The proposed amendments are needed to implement the flexibility waiver that the U.S. Department of Education granted to the Commonwealth in February 2012. The waiver authorizes Massachusetts to discontinue using provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act that are no longer useful in identifying schools and districts most in need of intervention, and instead to create a unified accountability system that focuses on closing achievement gaps and turning around the lowest performing schools and districts. The proposed changes also align the regulations with evolving practice with respect to Level 4 and 5 districts and clarify other provisions. With the Board's approval, we will solicit public comment on the proposed amendments through early June and bring them back to the Board for a final vote on June 26, 2012. Senior Associate Commissioner Lynda Foisy and Eva Mitchell of our Office of District and School Accountability will be present to respond to your questions.

  5. Proposed Amendments to Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval Regulations, 603 CMR 7.00 - Initial Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment
    1. Proposed Standards for English as a Second Language Educator License
    2. Proposed Standards for Program Approval, Professional License, and Other Matters

    The second set of regulations we are presenting to the Board this month, for initial review and a vote to solicit public comment, are proposed amendments to the regulations on Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval. The changes to the English as a Second Language license standards are part of the Commonwealth's initiative to strengthen teaching and learning for English language learners. The proposed amendments to the regulations on approval of educator preparation programs, including a web-based accountability system, are part of the Commonwealth's federal Race to the Top grant to increase educator effectiveness. The proposed changes also revise requirements for the professional license, increase the number of hours of practical experience that educators are expected to have in preparation for licensure, and clarify exemptions. I recommend that the Board vote to solicit public comment on the proposed amendments, and anticipate bringing them back to the Board in June for a final vote. Associate Commissioner Claudia Bach and other members of the Department's staff will be at the meeting to answer your questions.

  6. Proposed Amendments to Regulations on Access to Equal Educational Opportunity, 603 CMR 26.00, and Charter Schools, 603 CMR 1.00 (Non-Discrimination Based on Gender Identity, per C. 199 of 2011) - Initial Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    I am presenting to the Board this month, for initial review and a vote to solicit public comment, proposed amendments to the regulations on Access to Equal Educational Opportunity, 603 CMR 26.00, and Charter Schools, 603 CMR 1.00, to incorporate the new requirements of state law protecting students from discrimination in public schools based on gender identity. With the Board's approval, we will solicit public comment on the proposed amendments through early June and bring them back to the Board for a final vote on June 26, 2012. Associate Commissioner John Bynoe and Dianne Curran of our legal staff will be present to respond to your questions.

  7. FY2013 Education Budget Proposal from House Ways & Means Committee - Discussion

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

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 9 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.

  3. Data on Adult Basic Education in Massachusetts

    Board members requested additional data following the special meeting in March on Adult Basic Education. The information is enclosed under Tab 10.

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



Last Updated: April 19, 2012
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