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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the March 24, 2014 Special Meeting and the March 25, 2014 Regular Meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
March 14, 2014

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The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 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 a.m.) and should adjourn by 1 p.m. The Board will also hold a special meeting from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, March 24, 2014, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's offices at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden. In addition, two Board committees are meeting at the Department on Monday, March 24, 2014: the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation Committee will meet from 2-3 p.m. and the Budget Committee will meet from 3-5 p.m. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call JC Considine at (781) 338-3112.

Overview

Our special meeting on Monday evening will focus on the educational benchmarking study and policy report that the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education is releasing on March 24. The business agenda for our regular meeting on Tuesday morning leads off with a recap of the special meeting. We will have an update on PARCC and an update on our work with the Level 5 schools. The Board will hear a presentation on HiSET, the new high school equivalency exam. We will discuss some issues relating to career and vocational-technical education, in preparation for possible regulatory changes later this spring. The Board will take final votes on amendments to the charter school regulations and the new regulations on virtual schools. The Board will also vote on a charter amendment and receive an update on the education budget.

Special Meeting

  1. Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) Educational Benchmarking Study and Policy Report - Discussion

    The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) has been a strong supporter of education reform in the Commonwealth for over two decades. In fact, the MBAE's 1991 report, Every Child a Winner, was the catalyst for the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993. Last year, the MBAE commissioned a study by Brightlines, a team of international education experts led by Sir Michael Barber, to assess the performance of Massachusetts schools and identify the initiatives and innovations that are producing the greatest results in the Commonwealth and around the world, as a foundation to develop a new education agenda for the next 20 years. The MBAE is releasing the report on March 24. At our special meeting, MBAE Chair Henry Dinger, MBAE Executive Director Linda Noonan, and Sir Michael Barber and Simon Day of Brightlines will present the report to the Board. We will reserve ample time for discussion, questions and comments from Board members. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and activities. She will invite the Board's committee chairs to report on recent meetings. Following up on the discussion at last month's special meeting, Chair Banta also will announce formation of a work group to identify opportunities for promoting the inclusion of civic education and engagement in the curriculum.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Secretary Duncan's Visit. On March 11-12, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Massachusetts to see firsthand how schools across the Commonwealth are implementing our core education reform initiatives. The Secretary visited Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Boston, Worcester Technical High School, Arthur Coolidge Middle School in Reading, and Match Charter Public High School in Boston.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. MBAE Educational Benchmarking Study and Policy Report: Recap of March 24th Special Meeting - Continuing Discussion

    We will recap the special meeting and continue the discussion of the MBAE policy report.

  2. Update on PARCC - Discussion

    Starting on March 24, approximately 81,000 students - or about 8 percent of the state's total public school enrollment - will take a PARCC field test in English language arts or mathematics. At the Board meeting on March 25, I will provide a further update on PARCC. Senior Associate Commissioner Bob Bickerton will join us for the discussion.

  3. Update on Level 5 Schools - Discussion

    The memo under Tab 3 provides an overview of our current work with the four Level 5 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. The preliminary turnaround plans for each of the four schools are included in your materials. I will update the Board further at our March 25 meeting.

  4. Overview of HiSET, New High School Equivalency Exam - 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. This year we are transitioning from the General Educational Development (GED) assessment to an exam from Educational Testing Service (ETS) called the HiSET. At the Board meeting on March 25, Jolanta Conway, Acting Director of ACLS, and a representative from ETS will present an overview of test policies, the transition process, and the HiSET test.

  5. Career and Vocational-Technical Education: Review of Policies Relating to Program Approval and Enrollment - Discussion

    Career and vocational-technical education (CVTE) is an important part of our K-12 educational system. We have been working with the field over the past two years to discuss challenges and opportunities of building on the strengths of CVTE. At this month's Board meeting, Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson and I will offer a series of proposals relating to CVTE program approval and enrollment. I may incorporate the recommendations into proposed regulations that I would present to the Board later this spring for initial review and to launch a period of public comment.

  6. Amendments to Charter School Regulations, 603 CMR 1.00 - Discussion and Vote

    In December 2013, the Board voted to solicit public comment on proposed amendments to the Charter School Regulations. Based upon the comments received, we have made a number of additional changes to the regulations. The materials under Tab 6 include a summary of the comments and the Department's response, as well as the proposed regulations showing the changes. I recommend that the Board vote on March 25 to adopt the amendments to the regulations. Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang will join us at the meeting to discuss these regulations and other matters relating to charter schools and virtual schools.

  7. Regulations on Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual Schools (Adoption of 603 CMR 52.00, Technical Amendment to Special Education Regulations, 603 CMR 28.00, and Repeal of Regulations on Virtual Innovation Schools, 603 CMR 48.00) - Discussion

    In December 2013, the Board voted to solicit public comment on proposed new Regulations on Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual Schools, and corresponding changes to two other sets of regulations. The materials under Tab 7 include a summary of the comments and the Department's response, as well as the proposed regulations showing the changes. I recommend that the Board vote on March 25 to adopt the regulations. Luis Rodriguez, Director of the Office of Digital Learning, will join us at the meeting.

  8. Amendment Request from Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School - Discussion and Vote

    Pursuant to the Charter School Regulations, 603 CMR 1.11(1), the Board must approve major changes in the material terms of a school's charter. The board of trustees of Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School, which serves grades K-8, is requesting approval for a charter amendment to increase its maximum enrollment (from 450 to 900 students), and to become a regional charter school serving twelve districts in addition to Franklin. The school's request is described in the memo under Tab 8. I recommend that the Board approve the amendments to the school's charter.

  9. Update on State and Federal Education Budget - Discussion

    Chair Banta and other members of the Board's Budget Committee will update the Board on the committee's March 24 meeting, and we will discuss next steps in the budget process.

Other Items for Information

  1. Education-Related News Clips

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

  2. Report on Charter School Matters Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 11 is a report on charter school matters 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 March 24 and 25.



Last Updated: March 20, 2014
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