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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Scheduling of FY13 Comprehensive Audits and Reviews

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
December 7, 2012

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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 district accountability reviews conducted by our center for district and school accountability, coordinated program reviews 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, one conflict has been noted. The conflict is as follows:

Springfield Public Schools is scheduled to have a district accountability review in February 2013 and a coordinated program review in May 2013. The district accountability review will include visits to Level 4 schools and the coordinated program review will include visits to non-Level 4 schools. In addition, the Springfield High School of Commerce is scheduled to have a NEASC review in early May. The Department's coordinated program review will not include a visit to the High School of Commerce.

The Springfield superintendent has agreed to the schedule of both Department reviews. He believes they will provide valuable information for the district's long-term strategic planning efforts. And, since the coordinated program review will not include the High School of Commerce, there is not a concern regarding the timing of that review and the NEASC review.

Consequently, I will allow the two Department reviews for the Springfield Public Schools to take place 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: December 11, 2012
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