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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the November 24, 2014 Special Meeting and the November 25, 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
November 14, 2014


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, November 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, November 24, 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 Helene Bettencourt at (781) 338-3120.


We have two topics on the agenda for the Board's special meeting on Monday evening, November 24: discussion of Department initiatives related to educator licensure and special education. No votes will be taken. The regular meeting on Tuesday morning, November 25, begins with discussion and a vote on the waiver request from the Brockton charter applicant group. The Board will hear a progress report from Receiver/Superintendent Jeff Riley on the second full year of receivership of the Lawrence Public Schools. I will present proposed amendments to the Vocational-Technical Education Regulations for initial discussion and a vote to solicit public comment. Former Board member Gerald Chertavian and others will update the Board on college and career readiness initiatives. We will have a status report on the proposed amendments to the Physical Restraint Regulations, in anticipation of bringing the regulations back to the Board for a final vote in December. Our November 25 meeting will conclude with a report on FY2014 educator evaluation data, and an update on our work with the four Level 5 schools.

Special Meeting

  1. Educator Licensure Policy - Discussion

    The Department will engage the Board in a discussion of potential refinements to educator licensure. Among the elements to be considered is the desirability of a three-tier system (beginning licensure, re-licensure, and advanced licensure) as well as approaches to incorporating the statutory requirement that "demonstration of successful performance" be a feature of licensure. Deputy Commissioner Alan Ingram and Associate Commissioner Heather Peske will help guide the discussion.

  2. Special Education: Action Steps to Strengthen Policy and Practice in Massachusetts - Discussion

    In the second part of the Monday evening meeting, the Board will hear and discuss a presentation on special education data research by Dr. Thomas Hehir of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Department's strategic action plan to address the issues highlighted in the research reports. Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston and State Special Education Director Marcia Mittnacht will help guide the discussion.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Margaret McKenna will brief the Board on current issues and activities. She will appoint members to the Board's Charter School Committee and to the Committee on the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation. Please note the Board's planning retreat is scheduled for next Monday afternoon, December 1, at UMass-Boston. Board members will receive the agenda and materials in advance of the retreat.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Update on PARCC. The Department's Student Assessment staff continues to work with colleagues from the other PARCC consortium states to prepare the operational tests that will be administered next spring. Seventeen regional sessions are being held throughout Massachusetts this fall to give classroom teachers an opportunity to try out the test and discuss with instructional leaders how the test content relates to their curriculum and instruction. (Try the practice test yourself.) I have also included in your materials a flyer about the online test administration "boot camp" scheduled for December 4 in Burlington. More than 500 district administrators have signed up for this conference, which will focus on the nuts and bolts of online testing. At the December 16 Board meeting, we will review with you the timeline and process for making a go/no go decision on PARCC next fall.

  2. Curriculum and Instruction Summit. The Department's 7th Annual Curriculum and Instruction Summit took place on October 27 (repeated on October 28) in Marlborough. The theme of this year's summit was "Initiative Integration: Putting the Pieces Together." The conference highlighted 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. Department staff members collaborated with 50 educators from schools and districts throughout the Commonwealth and from higher education to present 17 different breakout sessions highlighting promising practices and resources. Over 750 superintendents, assistant superintendents, curriculum directors, teachers, and other educators attended, and their survey responses indicate they found the conference to be helpful and engaging.

  3. State email accounts for Board members. At the request of Board members, we have set up individual email accounts for each of you on the state system. This should simplify your management of correspondence relating to your state service. We thank the Information Technology staff of the Executive Office of Education as well as staff of the Commissioner's Office for their assistance in setting up the new email system.

  4. Update on stakeholder meetings on licensure design principles/policy options. We have revamped the materials that are guiding the discussion on potential revisions to educator licensure. In short, we have rescinded the draft options that link licensure to educator evaluation. We received considerable opposition to linking licensure to evaluation. We appreciate this feedback, and I agree with it. While the draft options we presented were intended to be a catalyst for exploring potential design principles and policies, it is clear that the options are impeding rather than encouraging thoughtful discussion of refinements to our licensure system. The Department will continue to look for input on current and potential requirements for licensure, and I look forward to further discussions with the Board on this important topic.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Waiver Request from Brockton Charter Applicant Group - Discussion and Vote

    The applicant group seeking to establish the New Heights Charter School of Brockton has requested that the Board waive a provision in the Charter School Regulations, 603 CMR 1.04(9), to allow its charter application to move forward and be considered on its merits. The Department has invited written comments on the waiver request. In addition, the Board held a public forum on November 5 to hear from interested parties. The public comment period ends on November 18. After the comment period closes, I will forward to the Board copies of the written comments, as well as a memorandum summarizing the issue and presenting my recommendation.

  2. Lawrence Public Schools: Progress Report on Second Full Year of Receivership - Discussion

    At the November 25 meeting, the Board will hear about some of the ways the state receivership is transforming education for the students of that city, under Jeff Riley's leadership. Receiver/Superintendent Riley will make a presentation and has invited others who are involved in the turnaround effort to join him. We have included some background information in your briefing book under Tab 2.

  3. Proposed Amendments to Vocational-Technical Education Regulations, 603 CMR 4.00 - Initial Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    I am presenting to the Board this month proposed amendments to 603 CMR 4.00: Vocational-Technical Education Regulations, for initial discussion and a vote to solicit public comment. With the Board's approval, we will solicit public comment on the proposed revisions to the regulations and bring them back to the Board for a final vote in February 2015. The memo under Tab 3 provides details. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson and Associate Commissioner Patricia Gregson will be at the November 25 meeting to answer questions.

  4. Progress Report: Integration of College and Career Readiness Recommendations - Discussion

    At the November 25 meeting, former Board member Gerald Chertavian and members of the Integration of College and Career Readiness (ICCR) Advisory Group, along with Associate Commissioner Pati Gregson and Keith Westrich, our Director of College and Career Readiness, will present an update on the ICCR Task Force recommendations. The memorandum under Tab 4 provides background for the discussion.

  5. Update on Proposed Amendments to Regulations on Restraint and Seclusion, 603 CMR 18 and 603 CMR 46 - Discussion

    At the September 2014 meeting, the Board asked for information that would provide context for considering the regulation of physical restraint in Massachusetts public schools, including approved private day and residential special education schools that serve special education students. The memorandum under Tab 5 summarizes recent data on use of restraints. It also highlights the issues most frequently addressed in the comments we have received during the public comment period on the proposed amendments to the regulations. The comment period included a public hearing that the Board held on November 10. Russell Johnston, Senior Associate Commissioner; Marcia Mittnacht, State Director of Special Education; and Deputy General Counsel Dianne Curran will be at the Board meeting to answer your questions. The Board is expected to take a final vote on the regulations in December.

  6. Educator Evaluation: Report on FY2014 Data - Discussion

    On November 13, the Department released the second year of educator evaluation ratings produced under the regulations and state framework that the Board adopted in 2011. Similar to the first year, the vast majority of teachers and administrators who were evaluated received a solid performance rating. The Massachusetts evaluation framework is designed to place educator practice and student learning at the center, and to ensure that teachers and administrators receive meaningful feedback to help them better serve students. The materials under Tab 6 highlight the findings in the FY2014 report.

  7. 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. I visited all four schools in October and early November and was impressed with the progress that was evident in each school.

Other Items for Information

  1. Building on 20 Years of Massachusetts Education Reform

    Enclosed under Tab 8 is a paper outlining the broad state policy agenda that directs the current work of this agency. The paper is intended to assist the Board in considering current opportunities and challenges in K-12 education, within the historical context and policy framework established by the Education Reform Act of 1993, under which we continue to operate. I hope the Board will find the paper useful for our upcoming planning retreat.

  2. Advisory Councils: FY2014 Annual Reports

    The Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 established advisory councils to advise the Commissioner and the Board on matters related to improving public education and student achievement. The advisory councils are made up of volunteers who work with us to improve public education by providing advice and comment in specific program areas. Under Tab 8 is a compilation of the 2014 annual reports from each of the advisory councils.

  3. Report on Grants Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 9 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 in the last month.

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the Department on November 24 and 25.

Last Updated: November 18, 2014
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