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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the November 18, 2013 Special Meeting and the November 19, 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
November 8, 2013


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, November 19, 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 also hold a special meeting from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, November 18, 2013, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's offices at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden. In addition, the Board's budget committee is meeting at the Department from 3-5 p.m. on Monday, November 18, 2013. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call JC Considine at (781) 338-3112.


At the special meeting on Monday evening, we will continue our discussion of the PARCC assessment and proposed timeline. The business agenda for the regular meeting on Tuesday morning leads off with a progress report on the first full year of receivership of the Lawrence Public Schools. We will hear from Receiver/Superintendent Jeff Riley and others on the Lawrence turnaround effort that he is leading. The Board will vote on the proposed plan and timetable for transitioning to the PARCC assessment. We will continue our discussion of the Board's budget priorities after hearing the report of the Budget Committee, and the Board will vote on our state education budget proposal for FY2015. The Board will take an initial vote on proposed amendments to the Regulations on Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, relating to the professional standards for teachers. I will update the Board on our activities with respect to the four schools that have been designated as Level 5 schools. Our business agenda concludes with a vote to accept the surrender of a charter.

Special Meeting

At the November 18 special meeting, we will continue our discussion of the proposed transition of the student assessment program from MCAS to PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). We will review PARCC English language arts and mathematics assessment items and Board members will have the opportunity to discuss in detail the PARCC assessment and the two-year MCAS-to-PARCC transition plan that I proposed at the September meeting. Senior Associate Commissioner Bob Bickerton and other members of the Department's assessment team, as well as two of the PARCC Fellows, will join us for the discussion. No votes will be taken at the special meeting. At the regular meeting on Tuesday morning, November 19, I will ask the Board to vote to endorse the transition plan. Please note that the November 19 action is not a vote on whether to adopt PARCC as our new assessment program for English language arts and mathematics. As is explained in the memo, under the proposed transition plan, that vote would take place in the fall of 2015.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and activities. She will invite members to indicate any interest in applying to participate in the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) committees or study groups for the 2014 calendar year, Let Us Know If You're Interested!. Later in the meeting, under item 4, Chair Banta will ask the Board's budget committee to present its report.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Charter School Access, Equity, and Excellence Conference. On October 30, 2013, the Department convened charter school leaders from across the state for the Fall 2013 Charter Leader Meeting: Access, Equity and Excellence. Keynote speakers included former Secretary of Education Paul Reville; Founder and CEO of Phoenix Charter Academy, Beth Anderson; and Dr. William Henderson, namesake of the Dr. William Henderson Inclusion School in Boston. The Department also highlighted new tools and processes related to overseeing and supporting access and equity. Major themes addressed during the day included:

    • Special education: inclusive education and serving high needs students;
    • English Language Learners: making content accessible and effective teaching of ELLs;
    • Discipline: the new discipline law and alternatives to exclusion and suspension; and
    • Recruitment and Enrollment: moving towards comparability and strategies for recruiting high-needs students.

    Over 250 charter leaders and board members attended the conference, with nearly all charter schools represented. Unlike previous charter leader conferences in which Department staff were the primary presenters, this event featured the knowledge and expertise of practitioners in the field. The Department is analyzing conference surveys and feedback to identify needs for additional guidance and trainings for the future. If you would like more information about the conference, please contact Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang or me.

  2. RETELL update. I am pleased to report that over 10,500 educators statewide have registered for the sheltered English instruction courses that the Department is providing this year for core academic teachers and administrators through our RETELL (Rethinking Equity and Teaching for English Language Learners) initiative. That number exceeds our FY2014 target by several hundred people, indicating the high level of interest in participating in the courses, and we are maintaining a waiting list. The Department's RETELL team, led by Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Landman, has worked with experts in the field to develop four different courses tailored to meet the varied needs of educators. The team has recruited and hired over 200 instructors, planned the logistics of delivering approximately 430 courses all around the state this school year, and developed a registration and user support system enabling educators to register for the course that is appropriate for them.

    We are very pleased that the Governor and the Legislature supported and recently enacted into law the supplemental budget, Chapter 118 of the Acts of 2013, which provides an additional $540,000 for our English language acquisition professional development state account. With this supplemental funding, the Department has the full $3,345,319 we sought for FY2014, which should provide sufficient funding to meet our staff and training requirements this year. I will continue to report to the Board periodically on our progress with the RETELL initiative.

  3. Anne Serino. I am very sorry to report that our friend and colleague, Anne Serino, Director of the office of Adult and Community Learning Services, passed away suddenly on November 3. Anne was loved and respected by everyone who knew her, and her passing is a difficult loss for all of us at the Department and especially for her co-workers in Adult and Community Learning Services. Board members will recall that Anne gave a brief presentation to the Board on the high school equivalency credential at the October 22 meeting. Our thoughts and prayers are with Anne's family.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Lawrence Public Schools: Progress Report on First Full Year of Receivership - Discussion

    At the November 19 meeting, the Board will hear about some of the ways the state receivership is transforming education for the students of that city, under Jeff Riley's leadership. Receiver/Superintendent Riley will make a presentation and has invited others who are involved in the turnaround effort to join him. We have included some background information in your briefing book under Tab 1.

  2. Plan and Timetable for Administering MCAS and PARCC Student Assessments - Continuing Discussion and Vote

    We will continue the discussion from the Monday evening special meeting on the proposed transition from MCAS to PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), and I will ask the Board to vote on the transition plan I have proposed. Senior Associate Commissioner Bob Bickerton and other members of the Department's assessment team will join us for the discussion.

  3. Update on Level 5 Schools - Discussion

    Senior Associate Commissioner Lynda Foisy and I will update the Board on next steps for the four schools that have been 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.

  4. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Budget Proposal for FY 2015 - Discussion and Vote

    The Board's budget committee will meet again on November 18, and will report at our November 19 meeting. Based on the budget committee's recommended FY 2015 priorities, the Board will discuss and vote on the budget at the November 19 meeting. Consistent with Mass. General Laws c. 69, § 1A, I will transmit the Board's recommendations to the Secretary of Education.

  5. Proposed Amendments to Regulations on Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7 (Professional Standards for Teachers) - Initial Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    I am presenting to the Board this month proposed amendments to the Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval for discussion and a vote to solicit public comment. The proposed amendments would update the Professional Standards for Teachers, to align them with the standards in other educator effectiveness initiatives such as the Educator Evaluation Framework and Curriculum Frameworks. With the Board's approval, we will solicit public comment on the proposed revisions to the regulations and bring them to the Board for a final vote in January 2014.

  6. Spirit of Knowledge Charter School: Surrender of Charter - Discussion and Vote

    The Board voted in May 2013 to place the Spirit of Knowledge Charter School in Worcester on probation. As I reported to you at last month's meeting, we continued to have serious concerns about this school. On October 29, the charter school's board of trustees voted to close the school and to surrender the charter that the Board had granted. I recommend that the Board vote at this month's meeting to accept the surrender of the charter. The Department has worked closely with the leadership of the charter school and with Worcester School Superintendent Melinda Boone to ensure a smooth transition for the students to other schools as well as an orderly closure of the charter school's operations.

Other Items for Information

  1. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Results for Massachusetts

    Under Tab 7 is a press release on the 2013 NAEP results, which were released this week. Massachusetts 4th and 8th graders scored first or tied for first on all four NAEP exams for the fifth consecutive time. While our performance since two years ago held steady on three of the four NAEP tests, reading scores for Massachusetts 4th graders declined by five points since 2011.

  2. Charter Applicants and Schedule of Hearings

    Under Tab 8 is the meeting schedule for the five hearings in November that the Department has scheduled to enable the public to comment on this year's six charter school final applications.

  3. Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual Schools Applicants and Schedule of Hearings

    Under Tab 9 is a memorandum on the one application the Department received from a collaborative seeking to operate a virtual school that, if approved by the Board, would open in the 2014-15 school year.

  4. Education-Related News Clippings

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

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

    Under Tab 11 is a report on grants and charter matters that I have approved 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 November 18 and 19.

Last Updated: November 14, 2013
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