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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the June 27, 2016 Special Meeting and the June 28, 2016 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
June 17, 2016


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 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 also will hold a special meeting from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, June 27, 2016, 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.


The Board's special meeting on Monday evening will be devoted to two topics: educator evaluation and digital learning. No votes will be taken. On Tuesday morning, the business agenda for our regular meeting leads off with progress reports on our three Level 5 districts from Lawrence Receiver Jeff Riley, Holyoke Receiver Steve Zrike, and Southbridge Receiver Jessica Huizenga. We will also present end-of-year reports on the four Level 5 schools. The Board will discuss and vote on the Digital Learning and Computer Science standards. I will update the Board on our next-generation MCAS work and the ongoing review of the English Language Arts and Mathematics standards. The Committee on the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation will present its report to the Board for discussion and a vote. The Board also will vote on rescinding some obsolete regulations, a charter school matter, the usual summer delegation of authority, and the schedule for our regular meetings in FY2017. Other items on the agenda for discussion include the latest information on the FY2017 state education budget.

Special Meeting

  1. Educator Evaluation - Continuing Discussion

    The Board's special meeting on May 23 was devoted to the topic of educator evaluation, with a focus on the design and implementation of the system. The Board heard from two panels, one offering statewide and research perspectives and the other offering perspectives from district and school practitioners. We will continue this topic at our June 27 special meeting, when the Board will hear from AFT-MA president Tom Gosnell, MTA president Barbara Madeloni, and researchers Henry Braun of the Lynch School at Boston College and Martin West of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Board members will have time to engage with the panelists, Department staff, and each other regarding how student learning is factored into the Massachusetts educator evaluation framework. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

  2. Digital Learning Update - Discussion

    In the second hour of the special meeting, we will update the Board on the Department's work with districts to promote the thoughtful use of technology to support teaching, learning, and assessment. Kenneth Klau, director of the Department's Office of Digital Learning, and two members of our Digital Learning Advisory Council - chair Barbara Treacy, a national expert on digital learning, and member Julia Freeland Fisher, director of education for the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation - will present briefly and set the stage for the Board's discussion.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Sagan will report on current issues and activities. The Board congratulates Nathan Moore, a rising junior at Scituate High School who has been elected as chair of the State Student Advisory Council and will serve as a member of the Board from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and other honored teachers. On June 15, I had the pleasure of honoring the 2017 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Sydney Chaffee, a ninth-grade humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, in a ceremony at the State House, along with finalists and semifinalists for the award. The 2016 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year, the Massachusetts finalists for the 2015 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and the state winner of the 2015 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award were also recognized. Details are in the press release. All of these honorees exemplify the dedication and high quality of so many educators throughout the Commonwealth. I look forward to introducing the Teacher of the Year to the Board at a future meeting.

  2. Accountability and assistance: outreach to stakeholders. With the enactment of the new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, states have the opportunity to reconsider the design of their systems for school and district accountability and assistance. Massachusetts is using calendar year 2016 to plan for potential changes in preparation for implementation at the start of the 2017-18 school year. From April through June, we have been in a listening phase, soliciting input from a broad set of stakeholders to help guide our initial thinking. This summer, we will develop options based on the initial feedback. In the fall we will share the options with the Board as well as stakeholders and refine them further after additional input. This topic will be on the Board's agenda in the fall and through the winter.

    In the Information section of your packet (Tab 16) is a two-page summary of activities the Department is undertaking and stakeholder discussions we have conducted so far. Two activities may be of particular interest to Board members:

    • On Thursday, July 21, the Rennie Center will be holding a policy breakfast session on this topic, and all Board members are welcome to attend. At this public event, education stakeholders will create posters describing their recommendations for the new accountability and assistance system, and attendees will have the opportunity to provide comments on those proposals.
    • The Board's Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council has devoted time at its last three meetings to giving detailed comments and advice on how to structure the new Massachusetts accountability and assistance system. The council plans to hold a special meeting in August to provide further feedback on the Department's initial proposals following the listening phase.

  3. Discipline report. On June 13, I identified the schools and districts that, when compared with other Commonwealth schools and districts, made excessive use of long term suspension/expulsion, including those with disproportionate rates of suspensions/expulsions for students with disabilities and/or students of color, during the 2014-15 school year. The Department will work with teams from each school and district in the fall to identify the challenges and strategies involved in reducing reliance on suspension/expulsion. The meetings will be an opportunity for DESE to understand the various reasons that schools and districts suspend and expel students as well as how the agency can be helpful to and learn from schools and districts statewide. My goal is to reduce reliance on suspension and expulsion while at the same time ensuring that schools provide a safe and orderly learning environment.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Progress Reports on Level 5 Districts: Jeff Riley, Lawrence Public Schools; Steve Zrike, Holyoke Public Schools; Jessica Huizenga, Southbridge Public Schools - Discussion

    We welcome Lawrence Receiver Jeff Riley, Holyoke Receiver Steve Zrike, and Southbridge Receiver Jessica Huizenga to the Board meeting this month. Each of them will update the Board on their respective progress to date in addressing the issues that prompted the Board to designate these three districts as chronically underperforming. The memo under Tab 1 provides a brief overview.

  2. Level 5 Schools: End-of-Year Reports - Discussion

    Under Tab 2 are the end-of-year evaluation reports from the American Institutes for Research on each of the four Level 5 schools: Dever Elementary School and UP Academy Holland in Boston; Morgan Full Service Community School in Holyoke; and John Avery Parker Elementary School in New Bedford. The cover memo includes additional information about our work with the four schools. Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston and Ventura Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the Commissioner, will present the report and respond to your questions.

  3. Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards - Discussion and Vote

    I am pleased to present the 2016 Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS) Standards and recommend that the Board adopt the standards at this month's meeting. The Board initially discussed the proposed DLCS standards in December 2015 and voted in January 2016 to solicit public comment on them. The memo under Tab 3 explains the changes that the Department, in consultation with the review panel, has made based on the comments received. Use of these standards is voluntary for school districts. With the Board's approval of the standards, the Department will publish the full 2016 Massachusetts Digital Literacy and Computer Science Curriculum Framework this summer and make it available electronically to schools and other interested parties to use in improving curriculum and instruction in digital literacy and computer science starting in the 2016-17 school year. Jake Foster, the Department's STEM Director, and Ken Klau, Director of Digital Learning, will be at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

  4. Update on the Next-Generation MCAS Project and Review of the English Language Arts and Mathematics Standards - Discussion

    Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson and I will present the latest information on the development of the next-generation MCAS, as well as an update on the review of our learning standards — including English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and history/social science.

  5. Annual Performance Evaluation of the Commissioner: Report from Committee on Commissioner's Performance Evaluation - Discussion and Vote

    Board Vice-Chair James Morton, on behalf of the Board's Committee on the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation, will present the committee's report and recommend a motion on the Commissioner's evaluation.

  6. UP Academy Springfield: Request for Waiver of Opening Date - Discussion and Vote

    In February 2015, the Board voted to grant a charter to UP Academy Charter School of Springfield (UP Springfield), a Horace Mann III charter school. This month, I am reporting on the school's progress in meeting the conditions that the Board imposed upon the charter. In addition, the school has requested a waiver to allow the school to defer its opening date. I recommend that the Board vote to remove the conditions from UP Springfield's charter and approve the requested waiver.

  7. Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School: Request for Review of Commissioner's Decision Regarding 2014 Amendment Request - Discussion and Possible Vote

    Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School (PVCICS), a Commonwealth charter school located in Hadley, recently requested that the Board review the decision I made in January 2015 not to support the school's 2014 request to expand its enrollment. As I have informed PVCICS, I believe the school should seek an enrollment increase in connection with its application for renewal this summer, rather than revisiting its 2014 request. The memo under Tab 7 provides more details. Representatives of the school will be at the meeting and will make some brief remarks. Staff from the Department's Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign will be present to answer your questions.

  8. Rescission of Obsolete Regulations: 603 CMR 6.00 (Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants); 603 CMR 38.00 (School Construction Grants), 603 CMR 45.00 (Agricultural High Schools) - Discussion and Vote

    Per the Board's initial vote in April 2016, the Department solicited public comment on the proposed rescission of these three sets of obsolete regulations. We received no comments, which is not surprising because the regulations are indeed obsolete. I recommend that the Board vote on June 28 to rescind the regulations.

  9. Update on FY2017 State Education Budget - Discussion

    Associate Commissioner Bill Bell and I will update the Board on the latest information we have on the state budget for FY2017.

  10. Delegation of Authority to Commissioner to take Necessary Action between Board Meetings - Discussion and Vote

    Since we have a three-month hiatus until the next meeting of the Board, I recommend that you vote to authorize the Commissioner to act on your behalf in approving any matters that are not otherwise covered by the Board's previous delegations of authority, and that require Board action before the next regular meeting in September 2016. By the terms of the suggested motion, I will consult with the Board Chair in advance of any such action and report to the Board on any matters that have been so approved.

  11. Schedule for Regular Board Meetings through June 2017 - Vote

    After checking with members, we have prepared a proposed schedule for regular Board meetings through June 2017. With the Board's approval, we will post the schedule on our website.

Other Items for Information

  1. State Student Advisory Council End-of-Year Report for 2015-2016

    Board member Donald Willyard summarized the work of the State Student Advisory Council at our May meeting at Pioneer Charter School of Science in Everett. He will distribute the SSAC's end-of-year report at our June 28 meeting. We thank Donald for his service to the students of the Commonwealth and to this Board.

  2. Report on Non-Operating School Districts Approved by the Commissioner

    By statute, towns that do not operate their own public schools (generally because the town is small and is not a member of a regional school district) must request and receive approval annually from the Board to tuition their students to public schools in other towns. In June 2009 the Board voted to delegate this approval authority to the commissioner. Enclosed is a memo reporting on the approvals I have granted.

  3. U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Report on 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection: A First Look

    Under Tab 14 is the June 7, 2016 report from the U.S. Dept. of Education's Office for Civil Rights, providing an overview of nationwide findings from the 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection relating to school discipline, college and career readiness, and other areas.

  4. Massachusetts Student Discipline Report, June 2016

    The Department has issued a report on the first full year of student discipline data since the new state statute and Board regulations on student discipline took effect. Overall, Massachusetts schools reported that approximately 10,000 fewer students were suspended or expelled in 2014-15 than in the prior year, which is encouraging news. The Department will be working with about three dozen schools and districts to reduce the inappropriate or excessive use of long-term suspensions and expulsions, including disproportional rates of suspensions and expulsions for students with disabilities and/or of students of color.

  5. Update on Every Student Succeeds Act: Accountability and Stakeholder Outreach

    Under Tab 16 is a summary of activities the Department is undertaking and stakeholder discussions we have conducted so far relating to review of our state system for school and district accountability and assistance, per the Every Student Succeeds Act.

  6. Update on Civic Learning and Engagement

    In January 2016, I updated the Board on projects currently underway to support civic learning and engagement. The memo under Tab 17 provides the current status of those projects, including preparation for the revision of the Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework.

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the meetings in Malden on June 27 and 28.

Last Updated: June 22, 2016
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