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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Comprehensive District Reviews

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 Department of Elementary and Secondary Education engages in numerous district and school reviews for a wide variety of purposes throughout the year. It is the Department's goal to ease as much of the burden these reviews place upon districts and schools as possible, while also maintaining the high quality of these reviews so that we may fulfill our legal and public obligations.

To this end, the legislation that called for the creation of the Department's Office of School and District Accountability (now called the Center for District and School Accountability, hereinafter CDSA) requires CDSA to ensure that no school or district is audited during the administration of any statewide assessments, and shall coordinate with other entities in the department to ensure that a school or district is not subject to multiple comprehensive audits or reviews by the department or any accrediting body within a 9 month period unless the board specifically votes to do so on an emergency basis (M.G.L. c. 15, § 55A).

To help facilitate scheduling, the Department has created a database of all comprehensive reviews year by year, including five-year charter renewal reviews, Comprehensive Program Reviews (CPRs) by our Program Quality Assurance office, district accountability reviews by our Center for District and School Accountability (CDSA), and accreditation reviews by the outside agency New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The reviews scheduled by the above offices included several potential overlaps in 2014-15 that were resolved as discussed below.

Districts that agreed to an overlap

Three superintendents were notified of scheduled reviews overlapping in a nine-month window and chose to proceed with both reviews. The districts are:

  • Cambridge (CDSA and CPR)
  • Medford1 (CDSA and NEASC)
  • Webster (NEASC and CPR)

Overlaps resolved within ESE

The Program Quality Assurance office and Charter School Office worked together to resolve potential overlaps for their scheduled reviews by:

  • postponing a CPR for a year (MATCH Charter High School)
  • changing the date of a charter review to put it outside the nine-month window, though still in this year (Community Charter School of Cambridge).

In addition, when selecting the districts for the 20 district accountability reviews required by state law, CDSA used the comprehensive reviews schedule as an element of its selection criteria. This avoided districts that otherwise would have been scheduled this year.

Overlaps with NEASC

Three districts have NEASC reviews this year (2014-15) overlapping the nine-month window from a CPR that was done last year (2013-14). NEASC is a private membership organization that is not under the Department's jurisdiction. The districts are:

  • East Longmeadow
  • Lynn
  • Marlborough

In addition, Boston Latin Academy in the Boston Public Schools is participating in a NEASC review, so it has been excluded from participation in the CPR review in that district.

Taken together, these efforts have resolved all conflicts under the control of the Department.

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Last Updated: October 17, 2014
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