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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the October 20, 2014 Special Meeting and the October 21, 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:
October 10, 2014

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The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, October 21, 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, October 20, 2014, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's offices at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden. In addition, all Board members are invited to attend the meeting of the Board's budget committee on Friday, October 17, 2014, from 3:30-5 p.m., and an information session on the Board's role in charter school authorizing on Monday, October 20, 2014, from 3:30-5 p.m. Those meetings will also be held at the Department's offices in Malden. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call Helene Bettencourt at (781) 338-3120.

Overview

The Board's special meeting on Monday evening, October 20, is focused on early literacy. No votes will be taken. The regular meeting on Tuesday morning, October 21, begins with the Board's annual vote to elect a vice-chair. We will recap the Monday evening discussion on early literacy and then have an initial discussion on priorities for the FY2016 state education budget. I will present the monthly update on our school turnaround work with the four Level 5 schools and an update on PARCC. The Board will vote on final regulations on licensure standards for teachers of deaf and hard of hearing students. The Board also will vote on my recommendations to place a Horace Mann charter school and a Commonwealth virtual school on probation. I will update the Board on the Department's ongoing review of our educator licensure policies and the timelines for this work. The final item for discussion and action is a proposed delegation of authority to the Commissioner to update guidelines and administrative procedures for the school governance arrangement known as superintendency unions.

Special Meeting

  1. Early Literacy - Discussion

    Following up on the Board's discussion last month about the data on students' reading proficiency at grade 3, Chair McKenna suggested that we devote this month's special meeting to a discussion of early literacy. At the special meeting on Monday, October 20, Department staff will provide an overview of the Commonwealth's early literacy outcomes and current literacy initiatives. The Board will then have an opportunity to interact with two presenters: Tara Christian Clark, principal of Zanetti Montessori School in Springfield, and Professor Nonie Lesaux of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Professor Lesaux, along with Secretary Malone, co-chairs the Commonwealth's Early Literacy Expert Panel. We are looking forward to an informative presentation and discussion. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Margaret McKenna will brief the Board on current issues and activities. She will also invite members to report on recent meetings (such as the October 20 information session on the Board's role in charter school authorizing) and school visits (such as Mary Ann Stewart's visit to a school in connection with the proposed amendments to the Regulations on Restraint and Seclusion).

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Milkin Award winner. On October 8, I had the pleasure of presenting the 2014-15 Milken Educator Award to Anthony Petrelis, a fifth-grade teacher at McGlynn Elementary School in Medford. The Milken Award recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. It comes with an unrestricted financial award of $25,000.

  2. ESEA waiver. As I informed the Board on October 9, I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Education has granted our request for an extension of our Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility waiver through the 2014-15 school year. This will allow us to continue to use the accountability system and other tools we have developed over the past few years to support school and district improvement efforts. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Education did not approve our request to waive the ESEA requirement for a single statewide student assessment for 2014-15 and will require us to submit a plan demonstrating that we will be in compliance no later than 2015-16. This schedule is consistent with our plans for a two-year "test drive" of the PARCC assessment, as the Board voted in November 2013.

  3. Curriculum and Instruction Summit. Board members are invited to attend the Department's 7th Annual Curriculum and Instruction Summit, which will take place on October 27 (and will be repeated on October 28) in Marlborough. The theme of this year's summit is "Putting the Pieces Together." The conference will highlight the work that districts, schools, and educators across the Commonwealth are doing to implement major initiatives - educator evaluation, implementation of the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, student assessments, and RETELL - in a coherent way that strengthens teaching and learning.

  4. State Auditor's report. I informed the Board in September that the Office of the State Auditor has been conducting an audit of the Department's administration of the charter school wait list and other provisions of the law. We expect the Auditor to issue the report shortly. I will keep you posted.

  5. National Assessment Governing Board. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has appointed me to one of the seats reserved for a state education commissioner on the National Assessment Governing Board. NAGB oversees "the Nation's Report Card," the National Assessment of Education Progress.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Election of Vice-Chair - Discussion and Vote

    Under the Board's by-laws, the September meeting is the annual meeting of the Board, at which the vice-chair is elected. The Board deferred this year's vote till October to give new members time to get oriented. Chair McKenna will call for nominations from Board members and then conduct the election. The vice-chair presides over meetings when the chair is not available.

  2. Early Literacy- Continuing Discussion

    The Board will recap the Monday evening special meeting and may wish to continue the discussion on early literacy.

  3. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education FY16 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 FY16. The budget committee will hold its first meeting on Friday afternoon, October 17, and all Board members are welcome to attend. The Board will vote on its FY16 budget proposal at the November 25 meeting.

  4. Update on Level 5 Schools - Discussion

    I will present the monthly update on our school turnaround 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. This month's update will include information responding to questions Board members asked at the September meeting. I will also report on my visit to New Bedford on October 9.

  5. Update on PARCC - Discussion

    I will update the Board on PARCC (the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). Under the plan that the Board approved in November 2013, we will administer both the PARCC and MCAS tests in the spring of 2015, with districts having the choice of which test to administer so that we will have good comparative data. Joining us for the discussion at the Board meeting will be Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, Associate Commissioner Liz Davis, and Chris Malone, Assistant Superintendent for the Revere Public Schools, who will speak about Revere's experience with the 2014 PARCC field test.

  6. Amendments to Regulations on Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval (603 CMR 7) and Educator License Renewal (603 CMR 44): Requirements for Teachers of Deaf/Hard of Hearing Students - Discussion and Final Vote

    In February 2014, the Board voted to solicit public comment on proposed amendments to the regulations on educator licensure and license renewal requirements for teachers of deaf and hard of hearing students. The Department reviewed all the comments and spent additional time working with various stakeholders and experts, including the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. As a result, we have made several further changes to the proposed regulations. The memo under Tab 6 explains the details. I recommend that the Board vote this month to adopt the final regulations. Associate Commissioner Heather Peske; Brian Devine, Administrator for Educator Licensure; Marty Mittnacht, State Director of Special Education; and Attorney Debra Comfort of our legal staff will be at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

  7. Boston Green Academy Horace Mann Charter School: Probation Recommendation - Discussion and Vote

    For the reasons set forth in the memo under Tab 7, I recommend that the Board place Boston Green Academy Horace Mann Charter School on probation in order to allow for the implementation of a remedial plan. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson and Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang will join us at the meeting to answer your questions about this item as well as item 8.

  8. Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School: Probation Recommendation - Discussion and Vote

    For the reasons set forth in the memo under Tab 8, I recommend that the Board place the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School on probation in order to allow for the implementation of a remedial plan.

  9. Timeline and Process for Educator Licensure Policy Review - Discussion

    I will update the Board on the Department's progress in reviewing our educator licensure policies and the timelines for this work. Associate Commissioner Heather Peske will join us for the discussion. The memo under Tab 9 provides background information.

  10. Procedures for Superintendency Unions under Mass. Gen. Laws c. 71, s. 61; Authorization to Commissioner - Discussion and Vote

    Superintendency unions (sometimes called "school unions") are cooperative arrangements between two or more school committees (typically in small towns) to share the services of a superintendent of schools and central office staff, while allowing each town to keep its own school committee and school buildings. The law authorizing school unions was enacted in 1870, predating the 1949 law authorizing regional school districts. As is explained in the memo under Tab 10, we need to update our 1983 guidelines and administrative procedures for these arrangements. I recommend that the Board vote this month to delegate this task to the Commissioner.

Other Items for Information

  1. Overview of Charter Authorizing and Anticipated Schedule for 2014-2015

    Between now and March 2015, 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 Student Learning Time Waiver Process for Innovative Programs

    Under Tab 12 is a memo updating the Board on the status and implementation of the new process for approval of student learning time waivers, per the Board's vote in April 2013 to authorize the establishment of a waiver process for innovative programs.

  3. Report on Scheduling of Comprehensive Audits and Reviews

    The memo under Tab 13 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 FY15 comprehensive audits and reviews to you in accordance with that vote.

  4. Report on Grants Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 14 is a report on grants that I have approved under the authority that the Board has delegated to me. I have not approved any charter school matters 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 20 and 21.



Last Updated: October 17, 2014
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