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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the March 23, 2015 Special Meeting and the March 24, 2015 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
March 13, 2015


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 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, March 23, 2015, 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 extend a warm welcome to Paul Sagan, who was appointed by Governor Charlie Baker on March 6 to chair the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. We all look forward to working with Paul. We thank Margaret McKenna for her leadership as chair of the Board since September 2014 and for continuing to serve now as a member. Paul was appointed to the seat that Karen Daniels held (the only seat that is coterminous with the governor), and we appreciate the service that Karen provided as a Board member.

At the special meeting on Monday evening, we will discuss two topics: school finance in Massachusetts and educator licensure. No votes will be taken. The business agenda for our regular meeting on Tuesday morning leads off with several discussion items: a review of the state and federal education budgets, recent research on state education initiatives, the monthly PARCC update, the update on Level 5 schools, and the Holyoke Public Schools district review report. The business agenda concludes with discussion and votes on: recommendations for schools on ensuring safe and supportive learning environments for LGBTQ students; a charter school amendment; and our proposed ESEA flexibility waiver renewal application.

Special Meeting

We have two topics on the agenda for the special meeting of the Board on the evening of March 23. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

  1. Chapter 70 Overview and Foundation Budget Review Commission - Discussion

    The first topic, per the Board's request at the December planning retreat, is the Chapter 70 school finance program. Chapter 70 is the Commonwealth's primary vehicle for funding elementary and secondary education, and it is the focus of the legislatively established Foundation Budget Review Commission, on which I participate. Joining us for the discussion will be three of the Department's school finance experts: Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson and Roger Hatch and Melissa King from our School Finance Office.

  2. Overview of Educator Licensure and Progress Report on Educator Licensure Review and Redesign - Discussion

    Board members have expressed interest in getting an overview of the Massachusetts educator licensure system, which is one component of our educator effectiveness agenda. In the second part of our special meeting on Monday evening, we will discuss educator licensure and educator assessment. Associate Commissioner Heather Peske, Educator Licensure Director Brian Devine, Assistant Director for Educator Effectiveness Liz Losee, and MTEL Coordinator Judy Sohn-White will join the discussion.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Sagan will offer his thoughts on his new role and will brief the Board on current and anticipated issues and activities.

Comments from the Commissioner

Rennie Center study on PARCC field tests. The Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy released a research report on March 3, "Testing the Test: A Study of PARCC Field Trials in Two Districts." This case study examines the 2014 administration of computer-based Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams in Burlington and Revere. As you may recall, Burlington and Revere offered PARCC examinations on a larger scale than most other districts: in Burlington, all students enrolled in grades 3-8 and 10 participated in PARCC field tests, while in Revere, two elementary schools and one middle school administered PARCC tests school-wide. Some key lessons highlighted in the report include: determining technology infrastructure capacity and the inventory and location of PARCC-ready devices ahead of time is critical; school-level management of test administration requires deliberate execution; computer-based test administration requires updated administrative roles for staff and additional support and training; and investments in technology were-and will continue to be-focused on instruction.

Comments from the Secretary

Secretary Peyser will brief the Board on current issues, including Governor Baker's education budget.

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Update on State and Federal Education Budget - Discussion

    We will review Governor Baker's education budget proposal for FY2016 in relation to the Board's budget priorities, as well as the outlook for federal education funding. Associate Commissioner Bill Bell, our Chief Financial Officer, will join the discussion.

  2. Summary of Recent Research on Several Key State Education Initiatives - Discussion

    Over the past two years, the Department and other organizations have commissioned research projects to examine the implementation of several key state education initiatives, including the new curriculum frameworks, educator evaluation, and PARCC. Associate Commissioner Carrie Conaway will present an overview of the findings from the research at the Board meeting.

  3. Update on PARCC - Discussion

    Chair Sagan will outline a plan for holding five public forums around the state over the next several months to hear from local officials, educators, employers, parents, and students on PARCC testing, to help inform the Board's review and deliberation in the fall of 2015 on whether to adopt PARCC as the statewide student assessment system. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson and I will update the Board on spring 2015 PARCC test administration, which is starting in many Massachusetts schools this month.

  4. Update on Level 5 Schools - Discussion

    We are presenting the third of four FY2015 quarterly progress reports to the Board on the four Level 5 schools (Paul A. Dever Elementary School and UP Academy Holland in Boston, John Avery Parker Elementary School in New Bedford, and Morgan Full Service Community School in Holyoke) and implementation of the school turnaround plans. The memo under Tab 4 includes updates from each receiver and New Bedford Superintendent Durkin. Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston will join us for the discussion.

  5. Holyoke Public Schools District Review Report - Continuing Discussion

    In light of ongoing concerns about the continued low academic performance in Holyoke Public Schools, I requested a comprehensive review of the district to be conducted by the Department's Center for District and School Accountability. Despite substantial investment from the Department for over a decade, the district has not demonstrated progress in student achievement and growth, and in fact, overall student progress declined in 2014. On March 24, we will discuss the Holyoke District Review Report and possible next steps to address the needs of the students. Deputy Commissioner Alan Ingram, Senior Associate Commissioners Russell Johnston and Brooke Clenchy, and Director of District Accountability Rob Curtin will join us for the discussion.

  6. Ensuring Safe and Supportive Learning Environments for LGBTQ Students - Continuing Discussion and Vote

    At the December 2014 meeting of the Board, the Safe Schools Program for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students, a joint initiative between the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth (Commission), made a presentation and asked the Board to review and endorse a set of recommendations. At the Board's request, we have reviewed the recommendations and, in consultation with the Commission, revised them to align with applicable policies and current law. I recommend that the Board vote to endorse the nine principles set forth in the memo under Tab 6. Associate Commissioner John Bynoe, Deputy General Counsel Dianne Curran, and Jeff Perrotti, Director of the Safe Schools Program, will be at the meeting to answer questions.

  7. Proposed Amendment for Mystic Valley Regional Charter School - Discussion and Vote

    Pursuant to the Charter School Regulations, the Board must approve certain changes in the material terms of a school's charter. This month, I am recommending that the Board vote to approve an amendment request from Mystic Valley Regional Charter School (expansion of maximum enrollment), with conditions. The memo under Tab 7 provides details. Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang and members of the Charter School Office staff will be at the meeting to answer your questions.

  8. ESEA Flexibility Waiver Renewal Application - Continuing Discussion and Vote

    As we discussed last month, the U.S. Department of Education is offering states the opportunity to apply for a three-year renewal of our Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility waiver. On March 24 I will ask the Board to endorse my proposed waiver renewal request. Deputy Commissioner Alan Ingram, Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston, Associate Commissioner Carrie Conaway, Rob Curtin, Director of our Education Data Services office, and Matt Pakos, Director of our Title I office, will be at the meeting to respond to your questions. Materials are under Tab 8.

Other Items for Information

  1. Report on Charter School Matters Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 9 is a report on charter school matters I have approved in the last month 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 March 23 and 24.

Last Updated: March 17, 2015
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