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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the January 27, 2014 Special Meeting and the January 28, 2014 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
January 17, 2014


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, January 28, 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) and should adjourn by 1 p.m. The Board will also hold a special meeting from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, January 27, 2014, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's offices at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden. Board members are invited to arrive at 4:45 p.m. to meet members of the Board of Early Education and Care, with whom we will be meeting in joint session starting at 5 p.m. In addition, the Board's Proficiency Gap Committee is meeting at the Department from 3-4:45 p.m. on Monday, January 27, 2014. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call JC Considine at (781) 338-3112.


Our special meeting on Monday evening is a joint session with the Board of Early Education and Care (EEC), focusing on our collaboration with EEC to promote school readiness and early literacy. The business agenda for our regular meeting on Tuesday morning leads off with the Board taking a final vote on amendments to the amendments to the Regulations on Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, relating to the professional standards for teachers, and an initial vote on proposed regulations under the new state law on student discipline. We will review the Governor's proposed state education budget for FY2015. The Board will receive information on the new virtual school applicant and on new charter applicants. Our business agenda concludes with votes on two charter school matters.


  1. Joint Meeting with Board of Early Education and Care - Discussion
    Our special meeting on the evening of January 27 is a joint meeting with the Board of Early Education and Care and EEC Commissioner Tom Weber. We will review and discuss some of our joint initiatives to promote school readiness for young children and reading proficiency by grade 3. This is a great opportunity to explore how our agencies are collaborating with the Executive Office of Education, the Department of Higher Education, and the field to build a seamless system from pre-kindergarten through college and career readiness. Some key staff members from ESE, EEC, and EOE will join us at the meeting. In the second hour, Secretary Malone and Prof. Nonie Lesaux of the Harvard Graduate School of Education will update us on the work of the Early Literacy Panel. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and activities.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Level 5 schools. Our work is proceeding with the four 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. All four schools' Local Stakeholder Groups (LSGs) submitted their recommendations to me on January 6. As you recall, the charge for each LSG was to provide recommendations that I would consider in my development of each school's turnaround plan. I am currently reviewing the recommendations, all of which are available at Level 5 Schools webpage.

    As required by the statute, after considering the LSGs' recommendations, the commissioner drafts a turnaround plan for each school and determines whether to appoint a person or non-profit organization to implement the plan. Based on the particular circumstances in each school and district, I will decide with whom I will work to implement the turnaround plan in time for that person or organization to have input into developing the plan. The statute permits the commissioner to decide whether it is necessary to limit, suspend, or change one or more provisions of a local collective bargaining agreement in order to implement the turnaround plan effectively, and if so, to require the school committee and applicable unions to bargain for 30 days before the commissioner exercises this authority. If I make such a decision, the period for developing the turnaround plan could include an additional 30 days, for a total of 60 days. I look forward to updating you further at our meeting.

  2. High school equivalency credential. I announced on January 2 that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has selected Educational Testing Service to administer the new high school equivalency exam in Massachusetts. This series of exams will replace the former General Education Development (GED) assessment, which is no longer offered by the GED Testing Service. The new exam, called HiSET, will continue to measure whether adult learners and out-of-school youth qualify for the Massachusetts High School Equivalency Certificate. More information is available at ETS Selected to Deliver New High School Equivalency Exam webpage.

  3. Carole Thomson. Carole Thomson, our Chief Operating Officer and a key member of our senior staff, will be retiring at the end of February. It is almost impossible to recount the many contributions, large and small, that Carole has made to the Department during her many years of service. Her calm demeanor, good nature, and vast institutional knowledge have made her a trusted advisor for a long line of commissioners. She is truly one of the few people who can be described as irreplaceable. But at the same time, we are glad she will be enjoying a well-earned retirement. Carole has asked that we forego any formal celebration, and I have reluctantly agreed. Even so, I know the Board will want to join with me in extending our deep appreciation and very best wishes to Carole.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Amendments to Regulations on Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7 (Professional Standards for Teachers) - Discussion and Vote

    In November 2013, the Board voted to solicit public comment on proposed amendments to the Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval. 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. The Department received four comments from individuals and organizations during the public comment period. The comments and our responses are summarized in the materials under Tab 2. Based on the comments, I am proposing a few minor changes from the amendments that I presented to you at the November Board meeting. I recommend that the Board vote this month to adopt the amendments. Associate Commissioner Heather Peske; Liz Losee, Assistant Director of the Office of Educator Policy Preparation and Leadership; and Attorney Debra Comfort of our legal staff will be at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

  2. Proposed Regulations on Student Discipline, 603 CMR 53 - Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    At the December 2013 meeting, we presented an overview of the new Massachusetts student discipline law to the Board. Effective July 1, 2014, the law will require school districts and charter schools to follow specific procedures for student suspensions and expulsions and provide to students who are suspended or expelled the opportunity to make academic progress through educational services provided by their district or charter school. The law directs us to promulgate regulations, which I am presenting to the Board for initial review this month. I recommend that the Board vote to solicit public comment on the proposed regulations, which we will bring back to the Board for final adoption in the spring. Associate Commissioner John Bynoe and Deputy General Counsel Dianne Curran will present an overview of the regulations.

  3. Update on State Education Budget - Discussion

    We expect to receive the Governor's House 2 education budget proposal for FY2015 on January 22 and will distribute it to the Board. At our meeting on January 28, we will discuss the House 2 proposal and next steps in the budget process.

  4. Information on New Virtual School Applicant - Initial Discussion

    The state law on virtual schools, enacted in 2012, authorizes the Board to grant up to three certificates to operate Commonwealth virtual schools for the 2013-2016 school years. In November 2013, we received a single application for a new Commonwealth of Massachusetts virtual school. The materials under Tab 5 provide details about the application and the review process. The Board will be voting on this matter in February.

  5. Information on New Charter Applicants - Initial Discussion

    By statute, the Board votes on the approval on new charter schools at its February meeting. The Department received 10 prospectuses for Commonwealth charter schools in August 2013. Based upon the review of these prospectuses by the Department's staff and external reviewers, I invited six applicant groups to submit final applications. All six final applications were filed by the deadline. This month we have included in your materials an overview of the process for reviewing and granting new charters and a summary of the charter applications that are pending.

  6. Report on Conditions and Recommendation for Probationary Status: Global Learning Charter Public School - Discussion and Vote

    At our January 28 meeting I am presenting a report on conditions for Global Learning Charter Public School (GLCPS). The school has not fully met the conditions that were imposed on its charter when it was renewed in 2012, and its academic performance has worsened since its 2012 renewal. The memo and accompanying documents under Tab 7 present the information on the school. For the reasons set forth in the memo, I recommend that the Board vote this month to place GLCPS on probation and impose new conditions on the school's charter.

  7. Consolidation Request of Excel Academy Charter School, Excel Academy Charter School-Chelsea, and Excel Academy Charter School-Boston II - Discussion and Vote

    I recommend that the Board vote this month to consolidate the charters for Excel Academy Charter School, Excel Academy Charter School - Chelsea, and Excel Academy Charter School - Boston II (collectively "the Excel charter schools") under a single charter. The details of the request and recommendation are presented in the materials under Tab 8.

Other Items for Information

  1. Educator Evaluation: Research Brief on Early Implementation of the Massachusetts Framework

    In 2012, the Department commissioned SRI International, an independent non-profit organization, to conduct a research study of the first year of implementation of the educator evaluation framework (2012-2013). The memo under Tab 8, which accompanies the brief, summarizes the findings and the various steps the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is taking to support districts, in their educator evaluation work.

  2. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Annual Report for FY2013

    The annual report for FY2013 includes key data and chronicles the major decisions and actions of the Board from July 2012-June 2013. It is an impressive record of some of our accomplishments in service to the students of Massachusetts. We plan to distribute copies to the Governor and the Legislature and post the report on our website.

  3. PARCC Field Test Information for Schools

    Under Tab 10 is an update on the PARCC Field Test, including a number of communications tools that the Department has developed for school districts to use and adapt in their outreach efforts to teachers, school committee members, parents, and others.

  4. Education-Related News Clippings

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

  5. Report on Grants Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 12 is a report on grants 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 January 27 and 28.

Last Updated: January 24, 2014
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