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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the November 29, 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
November 18, 2016


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, November 29, 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 will not hold a Monday evening special meeting this month. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call Helene Bettencourt at (781) 338-3120.


The business agenda for our regular meeting leads off with a report on two Level 4 schools, the Mattahunt School in Boston and Commerce High School in Springfield. The Board will vote on soliciting public comment on the proposed revised curriculum frameworks in English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. We will receive the report from the Board's budget committee and the Board will vote on its educational budget proposal for FY2018. Following up on our discussions of educator evaluation over the past several months, I will present to the Board proposed amendments to the educator evaluation regulations relating to student impact rating, for initial review and a vote to solicit public comment. I am also presenting, for initial review and a vote to invite public comment, proposed new regulations on Recovery High Schools. The Board will discuss and vote on charter amendments proposed by two charter schools. I will update the Board on the next-generation MCAS and the standard-setting policy committee. We will also discuss the latest data on student discipline and initiatives that the Department has underway.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Sagan will report on current issues and activities, including the planning retreat that the Board held on November 15. He will ask Penny Noyce, chair of the Commissioner's performance evaluation committee, to report on next steps in the evaluation process. Later in the meeting, the Board's budget committee, chaired by Katherine Craven, will report during item 3.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. BESE Retreat. The Board held a terrific retreat on November 15, where discussed the Board's mission/vision statement, responsibilities and authorities of the Board, and the Board and Department's role in securing a first-class education for all Massachusetts students, particularly for students who historically have been underserved.

  2. DESE administrator appointments. I have appointed Nina Marchese to lead the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Office of Approved Special Education Schools. I have also promoted Keith Westrich to the position of Associate Commissioner of College, Career, and Technical Education. Robert Leshin has been promoted to the position of DESE's Director of Food and Nutrition Programs. During a time when the staffing levels have decreased at DESE it is my pleasure to promote many talented professionals.

  3. ESSA Community Forums. The Department continues to seek input on possible changes to the Massachusetts' accountability system and other aspects of education in light of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Department is holding five public forums to gather feedback. Events are held from 6-7:30 p.m. on the following dates:
    Monday, November 14, second floor of the Bolling Building, 2300 Washington St., Roxbury
    Monday, November 21, Oak Middle School, 45 Oak St., Shrewsbury
    Tuesday, November 29, Brockton High School, 470 Forest Ave., Brockton
    Thursday, December 1, Holyoke High School, 500 Beech St., Holyoke
    Tuesday, December 6, Collins Middle School, 29 Highland Ave., Salem

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Proposed Revised English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks - Continuing Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    At the special meeting on October 24, the Board reviewed and discussed proposed revisions to the 2011 Massachusetts Frameworks for English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics. The Department has made additional changes to the documents based on your comments. On November 29, I will present the final draft of the proposed revisions to the Board for further discussion and a vote to solicit public comment through January 2017. Senior Associate Commissioner Heather Peske and Department staff will be at the meeting to respond to your questions.

  2. Educator Evaluation: Proposed Amendments to Regulations, 603 CMR 35.00, on Student Impact Rating - Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    The Board has discussed educator evaluation at each of our last four meetings. In turn, the Department has been engaging with stakeholders - including the statewide educational associations - to consider possible amendments to the regulations to address concerns about the student impact rating. The proposed amendments under Tab 2 were developed in light of the feedback received from a range of stakeholders regarding the challenges districts have faced in determining a separate student impact rating for each individual educator, a requirement under the current regulations. I recommend that the Board discuss the proposed amendments and vote to solicit public comment over the next several months. With the Board's authorization, the Department will invite comments and continue to engage the field, make any revisions that are needed, and bring the final amendments back to the Board for a vote in February 2017. Senior Associate Commissioner Heather Peske and staff members will be at the November 29 meeting to respond to your questions.

  3. Report on Two Level 4 Schools: Mattahunt School, Boston, and Commerce High School, Springfield - Discussion

    Mattahunt Elementary School in Boston (Mattahunt) and the High School of Commerce in Springfield (Commerce) have been designated Level 4 schools since 2012 and 2010, respectively. Despite the efforts that school and district officials have made to date, it is apparent from the 2016 accountability data that the conditions for successful school turnaround are not in place at either school. The memo under Tab 3 updates the Board on recent actions and anticipated next steps with respect to the two schools. At our meeting on November 29, Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston will be joined by Superintendents Warwick and Chang or members of their staff, as well as Matthew Matera from the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership, to provide additional details and answer your questions.

  4. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education FY2018 Budget Proposal and Report from the Board's Budget Committee - Discussion and Vote

    The Board's budget committee, chaired by Katherine Craven, will report at our November 29 meeting. Based on the committee's recommended priorities, the Board will discuss and vote on its FY2018 education budget proposal. Consistent with Mass. General Laws c. 69, § 1A, I will transmit the Board's recommendations to the Secretary of Education, who "shall then prepare and submit a budget request on behalf of the department to the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on education, and the secretary of administration and finance."

  5. Recovery High Schools: Proposed Regulations, 603 CMR 54.00 - Initial Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    I am presenting proposed regulations on Recovery High Schools to the Board this month for your initial review and a vote to solicit public comment. Recovery High Schools are programs that provide a structured plan of recovery for students diagnosed with substance use disorder or dependency, along with a comprehensive high school education. The proposed regulations clarify requirements for admission, enrollment, and educational programming, including special education, in Recovery High Schools. With the Board's approval, we will solicit public comment on the proposed regulations and then bring the regulations back to the Board in February 2017 for final adoption.

  6. Charter Schools: Amendments Requested by Foxboro Regional Charter School and Francis W. Parker Charter Essential 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. The Department has received requests from 14 existing schools or networks of schools to change their maximum enrollment, grades served, or charter regions. I gave the Board an overview of the 14 amendment requests Download Word Document in a memorandum dated September 16, 2016. I anticipate presenting most of the amendment requests to the Board in December and January. This month, I recommend that the Board approve amendments requested by two Commonwealth charter schools: Foxborough Regional Charter School and Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School. The memo under Tab 6 provides details.

  7. Next-Generation MCAS: Update on Standard-Setting Policy Committee - Discussion

    The next-generation MCAS tests will be given for the first time to students in grades 3-8 in English language arts and mathematics in spring 2017. In September 2016, the Department's assessment staff convened a 14-member standard-setting policy committee, composed of classroom teachers, educational administrators, policymakers, and other stakeholders, to discuss and arrive at recommendations regarding achievement level categories and policy-level descriptors for the next-generation MCAS tests. At the Board meeting on November 29, I will present information about the committee's work and we will discuss the proposed draft levels and descriptors. Based on the Board's direction, the Department will invite comment from stakeholders and then I will return to the Board in February 2017 with a final recommendation. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, Associate Commissioner Michol Stapel, and Chief Analyst Bob Lee will join us on November 29 to answer your questions.

  8. Student Discipline Data and State Initiatives - Discussion

    As required by the Board's regulations, this month the Department is publishing the annual analysis and report of student discipline data from the 2015-2016 school year. The memo under Tab 8 provides an overview and describes various actions the Department is taking, in collaboration with school districts and others, to address continuing concerns about possible over-use of suspension and disproportional rates of suspension for students based on race and ethnicity, special education status, gender, and income status. These initiatives are part of our ongoing work to support students' social, emotional, and health needs. Senior Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang and Associate Commissioner Rachelle Engler Bennett will be at the November 29 meeting to answer your questions.

Other Items for Information

  1. Follow-up Report on Two Level 5 Schools

    At last month's meeting, the Board requested additional information on the two Level 5 schools in Boston. For UP Academy Holland, the Board requested an update on suspensions and an overview of the strategies that the school is utilizing to reduce suspensions. For Dever Elementary School, the Board requested a summary of current interim assessment data, particularly a comparison of how the most recent scores compare to last year. The report under Tab 9 provides the information on each school.

  2. Report on Grants Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 10 is a report on grants I have approved since our last meeting, 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 meeting in Malden on November 29.

Last Updated: November 23, 2016
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