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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education FY16 Education Budget Priorities
Matthew H. Malone, Ph.D., Secretary of Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
December 5, 2014


This week the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted its budget priorities for consideration in the development of the FY16 state budget. This memo conveys the Board's desires and we ask for your support in advancing these resource priorities with the budget documentation being readied for the incoming administration.

Overarching: Focus on Closing Proficiency Gaps

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is committed to closing proficiency gaps and ensuring that all students are prepared for success after high school. To this end, over the next year and beyond, the Board will promote strategies that are proven to narrow proficiency gaps and accelerate the learning of students who historically have lagged in academic achievement, including students from low income families.

Strategies that are proven to narrow proficiency gaps and accelerate learning include several that the Board will pursue without requesting dedicated FY 2016 funding: increased out-of-school learning opportunities (e.g., summer and after- school programs); breakfast in the classroom; and change-management training for prospective and current school leaders.

In light of the constrained state fiscal environment facing the Commonwealth, the Board has adopted a limited number of specific FY 2016 budget priorities that are designed to ensure Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) capacity to support all districts - and particularly districts with lower achievement - in their efforts to close the gaps in proficiency for all groups of students. These specific budget priorities are identified in this memorandum.

As in the past, the Board continues to advocate for levels of education local aid needed to promote and sustain high quality public schools.

Specific Budgetary Priority Areas

In each case, the request is for additional funding beyond the state budgetary resources appropriated in DESE's FY15 budget.

  1. Targeted Assistance/Turnaround Work for Underperforming Schools and Districts
    • DESE is actively assisting Level 4 and 5 districts and schools. This work is primary to DESE's mission to narrow proficiency gaps. Currently, DESE has a dedicated state account, 7061-9408, to support this work, with the balance of funding coming from federal grant accounts such as Title I, School Improvement Grants (SIG), and Race To The Top (RTTT). The demand for service is greater than the state account can support. In addition, the Department will experience a reduction in federal funding commencing with the start of state FY16, July 1, 2015.

      DESE is requesting additional state support for expert assistance in both Level 4 and 5 schools ($7.5M):

      • $5,000,000 (Grants to replace reduced federal SIG grants for 7-9 eligible schools)
      • $2,000,000 (Additional grants and expert assistance for districts and schools)
      • $490,000 (Maintain staffing capacity currently underwritten by federal RTTT funds)
    • The District and School Assistance Centers (DSACs) focus support on small and medium sized districts in Levels 3 and 4. Support is delivered through 6 "virtual" regional assistance centers that divide the state geographically. In the 2014-15 school year, DSACs are offering services to over 66 districts that serve over 216,000 students, or 22% of the students in the state.

      DESE's federal RTTT grant has underwritten our capacity to provide technical assistance, professional development, and other support to districts. These positions have worked with district and school leaders to use data and to implement effective practices. The federal grant is winding down.

      DESE is requesting additional state funding to sustain this high priority capacity ($.6M):

      • $600,000 (6 Regional Data Specialists)

  2. Curriculum and Instruction (including Early Literacy)
    • Development and Implementation of Literacy Strategic Plan

      Third and 4th grade MCAS and 4th grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scores have remained flat for many years; a large percentage of the state's children do not attain reading proficiency by 4th grade; and achievement gaps remain large. A comprehensive, strategic plan to raise literacy outcomes is required. DESE's Consolidated Literacy account, 7010-0033, has decreased by 50% since FY2010. RTTT funding has helped to lessen the impact of reduced state funding,

      With the expiration of RTTT funds, DESE requests additional state funding to support districts with implementation of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and to deepen effective instructional practices. 6 DSAC Literacy Specialist positions are funded via RTTT, and unless additional state funding is secured these positions will be eliminated.

      DESE requests additional funds to support the rollout and implementation of these standards during FY16 ($3.525M):

      • $500,000 (Consultant support to develop a Literacy Strategic Plan, including facilitation with the field and national best practice research)
      • $2,425,000 (Consolidated Literacy grants, professional development and staff resources to support implementation of the literacy plan)
      • $600,000 (6 Regional Literacy Specialists)
    • Technical assistance to align curriculum and instruction to literacy standards

      In addition, the Department has invested significant RTTT funds in the development of Model Curriculum Units aligned to the Massachusetts Frameworks. Districts are using these new tools districts to support curricular and instructional alignment.

      DESE requests additional funding to sustain staff support for districts in this work ($.2M):

      • $200,500 (2 C&I Curriculum Development/Implementation specialists)

    • Literacy integration with major DESE initiatives

      Districts across the Commonwealth are working to simultaneously implement and consolidate four major initiatives: educator evaluation, implementation of the 2010 Frameworks, the shift to next generation assessments, and RETELL, the Commonwealth's initiative to strengthen teaching and learning for English language learners.

      DESE requests additional funding to develop resources and deliver professional development supporting districts' efforts to integrate their work across these four initiatives ($.150M):

      • $150,000 to continue PARCC ELA Fellows' professional development program and to develop standards-aligned and content-specific addenda to the educator evaluation rubric. PARCC Fellows are experts in using the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for ELA/Literacy and Mathematics and PARCC resources such as the Model Content Frameworks and released assessment items.

    • Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) standards implementation

      DESE has draft revised Science and Technology/Engineering Standards that are being piloted and are scheduled to be voted on by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in spring 2015 to release for public comment. The input from the comment period will be used to make final adjustments to the standards, prior to a final adoption vote by the Board in the 2015-16 school year.

      DESE is requesting additional state funds to support the rollout and implementation of these standards during FY16:

      • $100,000 (1 Science and Technology/Engineering Specialist)
      • $60,000 (20 STE fellows to provide statewide support)
      • $150,000 (PARCC Math Fellows' professional development program and development of standards-aligned and content-specific addenda to the educator evaluation rubric)
      • $440,000 (Professional development grants in STE)
    • Targeted Science, Technology/ Engineering & Math (STEM) Assistance for Levels 3, 4 & 5 Schools and Districts

      DESE provides mathematics support to districts across the Commonwealth, with preference given to the neediest districts. Literacy, Mathematics and Data Specialists have contributed to districts' ability to analyze data and implement effective literacy and mathematics curriculum and instruction.

      Level 3, 4, and 5 districts have requested and need similar support in Science and Technology/Engineering (STE). Science instruction and resources for improvement in these districts lag behind those for English language arts and mathematics.

      DESE is requesting new state funding to strengthen support for targeted assistance in Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) instructional support ($.7M):

      • $700,000 (7 Regional STE Specialists)

    • Digital Literacy and Computer Science standards implementation

      Digital literacy and knowledge of computer science are increasingly critical for all citizens of the Commonwealth. The strength of the Massachusetts economy depends on our ability to attract students to the STEM disciplines and to provide them with the knowledge and skills to pursue careers in STEM fields, not least of all in computer science. This effort to expand computing education opportunities for all students is being supported nationwide and locally by the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network, (MassCAN), the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, and the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council.

      ESE, in partnership with these organizations, has undertaken the development of voluntary state Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards. These standards will be ready in spring of 2015.

      DESE requests additional funds to support the rollout and implementation of these standards during FY16 ($.3M):

      • $300,000 (Director of Digital Literacy and 2 Specialists)

  3. Educator Development and Effectiveness
    • Recognizing the critical importance of teachers and principals to student learning and success, educator development and effectiveness is one of DESE's priority areas. Through DESE's Center for Educator Effectiveness, work is ongoing to ensure that every child in the Commonwealth has access to effective teachers and every school is managed by an effective administrator. DESE works with districts and teacher preparation programs to support implementation of policies and best practices on the educator career continuum, including: educator preparation and educator assessment; licensure; educator development; and the implementation of the new educator evaluation system.

      DESE requests additional funding to create a dedicated state account to support the work of the Center for Educator Effectiveness. Currently, the work is funded only with federal grants, mainly Title IIA and RTTT ($.7M):

      • $700,000 (7 staff currently funded on expiring federal grant funds)

  4. Students' Safety and Social/ Emotional Well-Being
    • DESE is requesting funds to support work in the following areas arising from recently adopted legislation and regulation: Medical Emergency Response Plans; Bullying Prevention; Recovery High Schools; Student Discipline; Truancy Prevention; Restraint and Seclusion; Substance Abuse Policy Task Force; and Safe and Supportive Schools Framework.

      DESE requests additional state funding to support guidance and leadership work in these areas ($.2M)

      • $200,000 (2 Safety & Support Specialists)

    • DESE has a duty to protect children (and the integrity of the education profession), while assuring the due process rights of educators, by having a well-functioning system to investigate and resolve allegations of misconduct by licensed educators. Under the statute and regulations on educator licensure, the Commissioner may suspend, limit, or revoke an educator's license if an investigation determines, among other things, unfitness, or gross misconduct or negligence in the conduct of the license holder's professional duties and obligations, or conviction of a crime reflecting a lack of good moral character. The Board's regulations require licensed administrators to report the dismissal, resignation, or non-renewal of a licensed educator to the Commissioner if the reasons for the employment action implicate the educator's license. Through our Office of Professional Practice Investigations, DESE currently has capacity to investigate and resolve 40-50 cases per year. We have 273 open cases. We receive about 100 new cases every year, and the backlog is growing.

      DESE requests additional funding of to perform this essential function.

      • $395,000 (New legal & investigatory professionals)

  5. DESE Planning and Research
    • DESE seeks new state funding to support planning and research efforts. This work includes analysis, research, and tools to inform decision-making and to support high quality planning and implementation for the highest priority initiatives through the use of data and evidence, timely information, and promising practices. ($.320M)

      • $320,000 (1 data analyst & research studies consultant services)

The Board and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education appreciate your ongoing support for our work to close proficiency gaps and strengthen K-12 education throughout the Commonwealth

Last Updated: December 11, 2014
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