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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the June 23, 2014 Special Meeting and the June 24, 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
June 13, 2014


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, June 24, 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, June 23, 2014, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's offices at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden. 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 an opportunity for in-depth discussion on two topics of interest to the Board. No votes will be taken at the special meeting. In the first hour, we will discuss our work with the Department of Higher Education to transform educator preparation in the Commonwealth. In the second hour, we will discuss initiatives relating to school and classroom culture and climate, with a focus on our outreach to and engagement with stakeholders.

The first item on the business agenda for our regular meeting on Tuesday morning is a discussion and vote on the report of the Board's Committee on the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation. We will then continue the discussion we began earlier this spring on the topic of Weighting Growth and Achievement for Accountability Purposes, and I will present a recommendation for your vote. Next, the Board will get a progress report on the staff and student feedback component of the educator evaluation system. We will have a discussion and vote on extending the use of MCAS for purposes of the Competency Determination (state high school graduation standard) through the class of 2019. The Board will receive updates on PARCC, on Level 5 schools, and on the FY2015 education budget. I am presenting a minor amendment to the regulations on criminal history checks. The Board will also vote on the usual summer delegation of authority and the schedule for our regular meetings in FY2015.

Special Meeting

  1. Transforming Educator Preparation - Discussion

    This item is carried over from our May 19 special meeting. I will present a progress report on our work on educator preparation, including data on preparation programs, revised procedures for reviewing and approving the programs, and new performance measures under development. In collaboration with the Department of Higher Education, we are participating in a seven-state Network for Transforming Educator Preparation, a two-year grant through the Council of Chief State School Officers, focusing on licensure, program approval, and data. We have invited Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland and Susan Lane, Director of Engagement from the Department of Higher Education, to join Associate Commissioner Heather Peske, Liz Losee, Rob Curtin, and Meagan Comb of the Department for the presentation and discussion.

  2. School and Classroom Culture and Climate: Hearing from Stakeholders - Discussion

    In the second hour of our special meeting, Deputy Commissioner Alan Ingram and Associate Commissioners Heather Peske and John Bynoe will present an overview of some initiatives relating to school and classroom culture and climate, focusing on our outreach to and engagement with stakeholders. We will present results from the statewide educator survey known as TELL Mass (Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning Survey), as well as qualitative results from the external evaluation of the TELL Mass survey. We will also present an overview of work we are doing with the field to implement the new student discipline law and the recent amendments to the anti-bullying law.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and events. She will recap the discussion from the June 23 special meeting. She will introduce the newly elected 2014-15 chair of the State Student Advisory Council, Donald Willyard, who will enter his junior year at the Pioneer Charter School of Science in Everett in the fall. Donald will become a member of the Board as of July 1, 2014.

Following up on the discussion at the February 24 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. Chair Banta will ask committee chairs to report to the Board in connection with item 1 (Committee on the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation, chaired by Penny Noyce) and item 2 (Charter School Committee, chaired by Vanessa Calderón-Rosado).

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and other honored teachers.

    On June 12, the 2015 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Dr. Jeffrey Shea, a Belmont High School social studies teacher, as well as finalists and semifinalists of the award, were honored in a ceremony at the State House. Also recognized at the event were the 2014 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year, the 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching finalists, and the 2013 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. Welcome to Russell Johnston, Jessica Leitz, and Jackie Reis.

    I am pleased to introduce three new members of my staff this month: Russell Johnston, Jessica Leitz, and Jackie Reis. West Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Russell Johnston will join the Department on August 1 as Senior Associate Commissioner for Accountability, Partnerships and Technical Assistance. Dr. Johnston, who began his career as a special education teacher and administrator, has led the West Springfield Public Schools since 2010. Dr. Johnston will manage the state's accountability and assistance system for all public schools and districts to support their work to raise achievement for all students. He will succeed Lynda Foisy, who retired on May 2.

    Jessica Leitz has joined the Department as director of external partnerships and will serve as the Department's legislative liaison. Jessica was most recently chief of staff to former State Senator (now U.S. Congresswoman) Katherine Clark. Jessica brings extensive legislative and policy experience to this role.

    Jackie Reis has joined the Department as media relations coordinator and will act as a spokesperson for the Department. For the past nine years prior to joining the Department in April, Jackie was the education reporter for Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Jackie brings extensive experience as a journalist covering topics including education, business, crime, health, and municipal government.

Comments from the Secretary

Secretary Malone will brief the Board on current issues and activities, including the FY2015 state budget.

Items for Discussion and Action

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

    Board member Penny Noyce, who chairs the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation committee, will present the committee's report and will recommend a motion on the Commissioner's evaluation.

  2. Weighting Growth and Achievement for Accountability Purposes - Continuing Discussion and Vote

    At the June 24 meeting we will continue the discussions that the Board had at the special meeting on April 28, the regular meeting on April 29, and at the May 27 meeting of the Board's Charter School Committee, regarding the ways that achievement and growth indicators factor into school accountability calculations and calculations the Department uses to identify the lowest performing 10 percent of districts. Board member Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, who chairs the Charter School Committee, will report on the committee's discussion. I will present a recommendation for the Board's consideration and vote.

  3. Educator Evaluation: Progress Report on Development and Piloting of Staff/Student Feedback Instruments - Discussion

    Associate Commissioner Heather Peske will present a progress report on the development and piloting of staff and student feedback instruments as part of the educator evaluation system. We have invited two school superintendents to report on the experience in their districts piloting the new feedback instruments.

  4. Update on PARCC - Discussion

    The PARCC field tests concluded earlier this month. At our meeting on June 24, I will update the Board on the PARCC field tests and on the responses we have received to date from school districts choosing whether to use PARCC or MCAS tests for 2015.

  5. Extension of Current Competency Determination Standard through Class of 2019 - Discussion and Vote

    I am recommending that the Board vote to maintain the use of MCAS tests for students to earn the Competency Determination for high school graduation through the graduating class of 2019, regardless of the decision to be made next year on PARCC. Taking this action now will provide fair notice to the students (who are entering eighth grade in the fall) and to schools. The memo under Tab 5 provides additional detail.

  6. Update on Level 5 Schools - Discussion

    I will update the Board about our 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 turnaround plans have been revised to reflect modifications that the Board adopted at its May 19 and June 9 special meetings. The materials under Tab 6 include updated budget documents for the four schools.

  7. Update on FY2015 State Education Budget - Discussion

    Secretary Malone, Chief Financial Officer Bill Bell, and I will update the Board on the latest information we have on the state budget for FY2015. We expect to receive the conference committee report by the date of our meeting.

  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 in September 2014. 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 2015 - Vote

    After checking with members, we have prepared a proposed schedule for regular Board meetings through June 2015. With the Board's approval, we will post the schedule on our website.

  10. Minor Amendment to Regulations on Criminal History Checks for School Employees, 603 CMR 51.00 - Discussion and Vote under Emergency Regulation Process

    I am proposing a minor amendment to the regulations that the Board adopted earlier this year on criminal history checks for school employees. With the help of the Executive Office of Education, we are streamlining the process for criminal background checks for any individual who works in both an EEC (Department of Early Education and Care)-licensed program and a regular preK-12 program operated by the same school or district. The public school or district will be able to rely on the determination made by EEC that the individual is suitable for employment in its EEC-licensed program in hiring the individual for the preK-12 program. This means the individual will not have to submit his or her fingerprints twice, once for review by EEC and a second time for review by the school or district for its preK-12 program. I am also recommending two technical corrections to the regulations. I am presenting these changes for adoption as emergency regulations so they can take effect immediately, since hiring is going on for the new school year. With the Board's approval, the Department will seek additional public comment, as required, and I will bring back the regulations to the Board for a final vote in the fall.

Other Items for Information

  1. State Student Advisory Council End-of-Year Report for 2013-2014Board member Dan Brogan summarized the end-of-year report from the State Student Advisory Council at our May meeting in Dennis-Yarmouth. The report is enclosed under Tab 11. Dan 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Education-Related News ClippingsEnclosed are several recent articles about education.
  4. 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 23 and 24.

Last Updated: June 19, 2014
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