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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the October 22, 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
October 11, 2013


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, October 22, 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 will not hold a special meeting this month, but will hold two committee meetings (Charter School, Budget) as well as a reception for two former members on Monday, October 21, 2013. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call JC Considine at (781) 338-3112.


At the October 22 meeting we will continue our discussion of the PARCC assessment and have the opportunity to look more closely at prototype PARCC assessment items. I will update the Board on the draft revisions to the Commonwealth's science curriculum standards and our plan for an extended period of review and consultation with the field. The Board's budget committee will report on its October 21 meeting. The Board will get updates on the high school equivalency credential and on anticipated next steps with schools that are on track to be designated as Level 5 schools. Our business agenda also includes several charter school items.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and activities.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. 2013 SAT and NAEP Results for Massachusetts. The College Board released the latest SAT results in late September. Once again, Massachusetts public high school students scored among the top performing students in the nation. Massachusetts public high school students had an average score of 506 in Critical Reading, 521 in Mathematics, and 500 in Writing in 2013. It was also encouraging to see that student participation and performance increased since last year on Advanced Placement (AP) exams.

    We anticipate that the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) will release the 2013 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) during the week of October 21. Known as the Nation's Report Card, NAEP provides state-by-state results in reading and mathematics at grades 4 and 8. If the results are released by our October 22 meeting, I will provide an overview to the Board.

  2. CCSSO grant for transforming educator preparation. Massachusetts was recently selected as one of seven states to participate in the "Network for Transforming Educator Preparation," a two-year grant through the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The grant is designed to implement recommendations laid out in the CCSSO Task Force Report: Our Responsibility, Our Promise. The grant will give additional momentum to the major initiatives we already have underway. This work falls into three main focus areas: licensure, program approval, and data. Working together with the Department of Higher Education and this CCSSO-sponsored network of states, we will advance policies and practices to help ensure that educator preparation programs are preparing candidates well for teaching and school leadership.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Plan for Administering MCAS and PARCC Student Assessments - Continuing Discussion

    We will continue the discussion that we began in September on the proposed transition from MCAS to PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). This month we will focus more deeply on the PARCC assessment, to help the Board prepare for a vote in November 2013 on the transition plan I have proposed. We will review prototype PARCC assessment items and hear from two of the 24 Massachusetts "PARCC Educator Leader Fellows" about how the field is responding to the opportunities and challenges that PARCC will bring. The memo under Tab 1 provides more information. Senior Associate Commissioner Bob Bickerton and other members of the Department's assessment team will join us for the discussion.

  2. Update on Science Curriculum Framework - Discussion

    I will update the Board on the revision process and anticipated next steps for the Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Curriculum Framework. The Department convened the STE Review Panel in 2009, and the panel has worked closely with the multi-state Next Generation Science Standards Advisory Group, convened in 2011, to ensure that our revised framework will prepare students for success in postsecondary opportunities. We plan to make the draft standards available to the field and the public for review and consultation during this school year and through the 2014-15 school year. The memo under Tab 2 provides background information and includes the draft revised standards. Senior Associate Commissioner Bob Bickerton, Associate Commissioner Julia Phelps and other members of the Department who have been engaged in this work will be at the Board meeting to answer your questions. No votes will be taken on the standards at this meeting.

  3. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education FY15 Budget Proposal and Report from the Board's Budget Committee - Initial Discussion

    We will hear a report from the Board's budget committee and discuss possible budget priorities and program initiatives that the Board may wish to propose for FY15. The committee will be meeting on Monday afternoon, October 21, and all Board members are welcome to attend. The Board will vote on its FY15 budget proposal at the November meeting.

  4. High School Equivalency Credential: Overview and Current Activities - Discussion

    The Department's Office of Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS) oversees the administration of a high school equivalency assessment through a network of 28 local testing centers, located in adult learning centers, community colleges, and public schools. The memo under Tab 4 provides an overview of the program and our current activities related to it. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson and ACLS Director Anne Serino will be at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

  5. Update on Level 5 Schools - Discussion

    Last month at the Board's special meeting, we discussed decisions concerning the accountability status of the state's first cohort of Level 4 (underperforming) schools that were designated in 2010. Four of those schools are under consideration to be designated as Level 5 (chronically underperforming) schools: Dever Elementary School and Holland Elementary School in Boston; Morgan Full Service Community School in Holyoke; and the John Avery Parker Elementary School in New Bedford. I will update the Board on October 22 about our work with these four schools since our September meeting. Senior Associate Commissioner Lynda Foisy and others will be present to respond to your questions.

  6. Proposed Delegation of Authority to Commissioner to Approve Management Contracts for Two Horace Mann Charter Schools - Discussion and Vote

    In February 2011, the Board granted a charter to UP Academy Charter School of Boston (UP Boston). In February 2013, the Board granted a second charter to the board of trustees of UP Boston to establish a second Horace Mann charter school in Boston, UP Academy Charter School of Dorchester (UP Dorchester). For both schools, the board of trustees contracts with Unlocking Potential, an educational management organization, to procure substantially all educational services. I recommend that the Board vote this month to delegate authority to me to approve the management contract for both schools. Deputy Commissioner Wulfson and Cliff Chuang, Associate Commissioner, will be at the October 22 meeting to answer any questions on this and other charter school matters that are on our agenda.

  7. Update on Spirit of Knowledge Charter School Probation - Discussion and Possible Vote

    The Board voted in May 2013 to place the Spirit of Knowledge Charter School in Worcester on probation. We continue to have serious concerns about this school. I will update the Board at our meeting on October 22 and will ask for a vote on further steps if the circumstances warrant it.

Other Items for Information

  1. Overview of Charter Authorizing and Anticipated Schedule for 2013-2014

    Between now and March 2014, the Board will be asked to take a significant number of votes related to its statutory role as a charter school authorizer. As in previous years, I am providing you with a memo summarizing the statutory framework for charter schools and the Board's responsibilities as the state's sole charter school authorizer, along with other related updates and a tentative schedule of charter school authorizing agenda items for the year.

  2. Report on Scheduling of Comprehensive Audits and Reviews

    The memo under Tab 9 explains how the Department is addressing the provisions of G.L. c. 15, section 55A, regarding the scheduling of major reviews to reduce administrative burdens on schools and districts. The Board voted in December 2010 to delegate this scheduling task to the Commissioner, and I am submitting this report for FY14 comprehensive audits and reviews to you in accordance with that vote.

  3. Education-Related News Clippings

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

  4. Report on Grants and Other Matters Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 11 is a report on charter matters that I have approved under the authority that the Board has delegated to me. I have not approved any grants since my last report to you in September.

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the Department on October 22.

Last Updated: October 21, 2013
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