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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the June 24, 2013 Special Meeting and the June 25, 2013 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
June 14, 2013


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 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 should adjourn by 1 p.m. The Board also will hold a special meeting on Monday, June 24, 2013, 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.


The special meeting on Monday evening is an opportunity for the Board to review and discuss progress and possible next steps for the 34 Level 4 (underperforming) schools that are concluding the third year of their turnaround efforts. We will be joined by several school superintendents and turnaround partner officials for the discussion. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

At the regular meeting on Tuesday the Board will receive the report of the Advisory Council on School and District Accountability and Assistance and an update on innovation schools. The Board will discuss and vote on a certificate under the new law on virtual schools and on regulations for reimbursement of transportation for homeless students. We will have an update on the FY2014 education budget. The Board will receive the report of the Educator Evaluation Data Advisory Committee. The Board will receive and vote on the report of its Committee on the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation and will also vote on a delegation of authority and the schedule for our regular meetings in FY2014.

Special Meeting

1. Level 4 Schools: Third Year Insights and Decisions - Discussion

For each of the 34 Level 4 ("underperforming") schools designated in 2010, and consistent with statutory responsibility and authority, I will be making determinations this fall about whether the school will be designated Level 1-5 based on student performance trends and evidence of school and district systems to sustain progress. At the special meeting of the Board on Monday evening, June 24, we will provide an update on the decision process and take a closer look at Level 4 schools at either end of the performance spectrum: those that have seen significant gains and may exit to a Level 1, 2 or 3 status, and those that have continued to struggle and are most "at risk" of being identified as Level 5.

Deputy Commissioner Alan Ingram, Senior Associate Commissioner Lynda Foisy, and other Department staff members will lead the presentation. We are pleased that several school officials, including Boston Superintendent Carol Johnson and Principal Andrew Bott of Boston's Orchard Gardens K-8 School, incoming Holyoke Superintendent Sergio Paez, and Springfield Superintendent Dan Warwick, will join us for the discussion, along with representatives from partner organizations EdLabs and Project GRAD. This should be an interesting and informative discussion. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and events. She will recap the discussion from the June 24 special meeting. She will present a citation to Ryan Casey, who is concluding his elected term as chair of the State Student Advisory Council and as a member of the Board. Chair Banta will introduce the newly elected chair of the State Student Advisory Council, Daniel Brogan, who is entering his senior year at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School and will become a member of the Board as of July 1, 2013.

Chair Banta will also present citations to Vice-Chair Beverly Holmes and Board member Gerald Chertavian, who will be stepping down after the June 25 Board meeting. Each of them has been an active and dedicated member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and each has made lasting contributions to our work on behalf of the students of the Commonwealth. We will miss Beverly and Gerald for their wisdom, energy, and commitment. We wish them all the best in the years ahead.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and other honored teachers. On June 13, at the Museum of Science, Governor Patrick, Secretary Malone, Chair Banta, Education Committee Co-Chair Alice Peisch, and I honored the 2014 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Anne Marie Bettencourt, a Springfield Central High School 9th grade English Language Arts teacher, as well as finalists and semifinalists of the award. We also recognized the 2013 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year, the 2012 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching finalists, and the 2012 Milken Family Foundation National Educator. The honorees exemplify the dedication and high quality of so many educators throughout the Commonwealth. I look forward to introducing the Teacher of the Year to the Board at a future meeting.

  2. Race to the Top update. The U.S. Department of Education conducted its Year 3 Race to the Top on-site visit to Massachusetts on June 3-6, 2013. The federal program staff met with representatives from our department and the Executive Office of Education and with school and district representatives from Worcester, Fitchburg, and City on a Hill Charter School in Boston. We received positive feedback on our project management and delivery. Local educators cited the technical assistance we are providing to support their efforts in several areas, including educator evaluation, the transition to the new Massachusetts curriculum frameworks incorporating the Common Core State Standards, and turnaround of low performing schools and districts. We expect to receive the written Massachusetts Year 3 Rate to the Top report from the U.S. Department of Education in the fall.

  3. Update on background checks law. Our staff is continuing to work with the Executive Office of Education, the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, and the field on the new national background check law (Chapter 459 of the Acts of 2012), which will expand the information available to public, private, and parochial schools, including approved private special education schools and child care facilities, about prospective and current employees who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children. To assist schools in planning, we have updated the Frequently Asked Questions document posted on the Executive Office of Education's website.

  4. RETELL initiative. At the Board's May 21 meeting, you heard a presentation on the RETELL initiative, "Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners," with a focus on the roll-out of Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) training. RETELL is the comprehensive strategy of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to close the proficiency gap for English Language Learners (ELLs). Over the summer we will be reviewing feedback from the spring courses and making revisions as needed for the next round. I will present an update to the Board in the fall.

  5. 20th anniversary of Massachusetts Education Reform Act. The Education Reform Act was signed into law 20 years ago, on June 18, 1993. It ushered in a new era of standards-based reform focused on strengthening teaching and learning for the benefit of all students, with significantly increased state support and increased accountability for results. Massachusetts has made remarkable strides in educational performance in the last 20 years, as is evident in national reports. We are engaged with educators and schools in continuous improvement, with the goal of improving results for all students and closing proficiency gaps. As we move forward with important initiatives, including the school and district turnaround authority granted by the Achievement Gap Act of 2010, we continue to build upon the solid foundation that the 1993 Education Reform Act established.

Comments from the Secretary

Secretary Malone will brief the Board on current issues and activities, including the state budget.

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Report from Advisory Council on School and District Accountability and Assistance - Discussion

    Joseph Esposito, CFO (retired) of Solid Works and former member of the Educational Management Audit Council, has chaired the Board's Advisory Council on School and District Accountability and Assistance since its inception. Senior Associate Commissioner Lynda Foisy and others in the Department have been working with the advisory council as we implement our system for accountability and assistance. By statute, the advisory council presents its findings and recommendations to the Board at least two times a year. The council's annual report for 2012-13 is enclosed for your information. Joe Esposito is concluding his term as chair of the advisory council. We are very grateful to him for all his contributions to this important work.

  2. Update on Innovation Schools - Discussion

    The innovation schools statute, G.L. c. 71, § 92, was enacted as part of the Achievement Gap Act of 2010. It allows school committees to authorize public schools within the district to operate with increased autonomy and flexibility to improve school performance and student achievement. The memo under Tab 2 provides details about innovation schools. At our June 25 meeting, the principals of two innovation schools, Dr. Stephen Mahoney of the Springfield Renaissance Innovation School and Jean-Marie Kahn of the Carlton Elementary School in Salem, will discuss their experiences implementing the innovation plans at their respective schools. Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang and Bridget Rodriguez, Director of Planning and Collaboration at EOE, will be present to respond to your questions.

  3. Virtual Schools: Report and Recommendation on Proposed Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual School - Discussion and Vote

    In January 2013, the Board heard a presentation on the newly enacted state law on virtual schools. Shortly thereafter, the Department released a request for proposals (RFP) to establish a Commonwealth of Massachusetts virtual school (CMVS). We limited this request for proposals to existing virtual innovation schools that sought to open as a Commonwealth of Massachusetts virtual school in the 2013-2014 school year. We received a response and application from Greenfield Public Schools (Greenfield). I am recommending that the Board grant a certificate to the board of trustees of the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School but impose a number of conditions on the certificate. The memo under Tab 3 provides details. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, Senior Associate Commissioner Bob Bickerton, and Luis Rodriguez, Director of our Office of Digital Learning, will be present to respond to your questions.

  4. Amendments to School Finance Regulations, 603 CMR 10.00 (Reimbursement for Transportation for Homeless Students) - Discussion and Vote

    The Fiscal Year 2013 budget (Chapter 139 of 2012) directs the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to promulgate regulations regarding reimbursements to cities, towns, and regional school districts for the cost of transporting nonresident homeless students as required by the federal McKinney-Vento Act. In April the Board voted to solicit public comment on proposed amendments to the School Finance Regulations relating to reimbursement for transportation of homeless students. We have made no changes from the April draft, other than to clarify the title of the regulations. This month we are presenting the regulations for a final vote. Jay Sullivan, Executive Director of School Finance and District Support, and Attorney Debra Comfort of our legal staff, will be at the meeting to answer your questions.

  5. Update on FY2014 Education Budget - Discussion

    Chief Financial Officer Bill Bell and I will update the Board on the latest information we have on the state budget for FY2014. We expect to receive the conference committee report by the date of our meeting.

  6. Educator Evaluation: Report of Educator Evaluation Data Advisory Committee - Discussion

    Enclosed under Tab 6 is the report of the educator evaluation data advisory committee, which was created by Chapter 131 of the Acts of 2012 to "provide recommendations to the board of elementary and secondary education concerning what information shall be collected for the purpose of assessing the effectiveness of district evaluation systems in assuring effective teaching and administrative leadership in public schools and how such information shall be made available to the public." The 13 members of the committee represented a wide variety of perspectives and stakeholder groups. Carrie Conaway, Associate Commissioner for Planning, Research, and Delivery Systems, and Heather Peske, Associate Commissioner for Educator Quality, will present the report and respond to your questions.

  7. Annual Performance Evaluation of the Commissioner: Report from Committee on Commissioner's Performance Evaluation - Discussion and Vote

    Board member Gerald Chertavian will present the report of the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation committee, since Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, who chaired the committee, is unable to attend our June 25 meeting. The Chair will recommend a motion on the Commissioner's evaluation.

  8. Delegation of Authority to Commissioner to take Necessary Action between Board Meetings - Discussion and Vote

    Since we have a three-month hiatus till the next meeting of the Board, I recommend that you vote to authorize the Commissioner to act on your behalf in approving any matters that are not otherwise covered by the Board's previous delegations of authority, and that require Board action before the next regular meeting on September 24, 2013. You delegated similar authority to the Commissioner for the period between the June and September 2012 Board meetings. By the terms of the suggested motion, I will notify Board members in advance of any such action and report to the Board on any matters that have been so approved.

  9. Schedule for Regular Board Meetings through June 2014 - Vote

    After checking with members, we have prepared a proposed schedule for regular Board meetings through June 2014. With the Board's approval, we will post the schedule on our website.

Other Items for Information

  1. Update on Educational Collaboratives

    Under Tab 10 is an update on the Department's activities to implement Chapter 43 of the Acts of 2011, An Act Relative to Improving Accountability and Oversight of Education Collaboratives. The law became effective in March 2012 and made sweeping changes in the operation and accountability of educational collaboratives, including increased oversight by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as well as member school committees.

  2. State Student Advisory Council End-of-Year Report

    Board member Ryan Casey presented the end-of-year report from the State Student Advisory Council at our May meeting in Franklin. The report is enclosed under Tab 11. Ryan has served with distinction as chair of the SSAC and as a member of this Board for the past year. We thank him for his service to the students of the Commonwealth and to this Board, and wish him all the best in the future.

  3. Report on Non-Operating School Districts Approved by the Commissioner

    By statute, towns that do not operate their own public schools (generally because the town is small and is not a member of a regional school district) must request and receive approval annually from the Board to tuition their students to public schools in other towns. In June 2009 the Board voted to delegate this approval authority to the commissioner. Enclosed is a memo reporting on the approvals I have granted.

  4. Education-Related News Clippings

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

  5. Report on Grants Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 14 you will find reports on grants 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 June 24 and 25.

Last Updated: June 19, 2013
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