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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Amendments to Competency Determination Regulations on High School Science and Technology/Engineering, 603 CMR 30.00, for Transition to New Standard

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner
Date:
February 1, 2019

At the meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) on February 12, 2019, I will ask the Board to vote to adopt proposed changes to the Regulations on MCAS and the Competency Determination (603 CMR 30.00). On November 30, 2018, the Board voted to solicit public comment on the proposed changes to the regulations.

The proposed amendments would establish an interim competency determination (CD) standard in high school science and technology/engineering for students in the classes of 2023 and 2024, who will be the first two classes of students to take next-generation assessments in science. The interim standard will require students to meet a similar level of achievement on the next-generation tests as the current level of achievement required to meet the CD standard on the legacy tests (220/Needs Improvement).

These changes are intended to provide fairness as we transition from the legacy assessments to the next-generation assessments in high school science and technology/engineering, and are consistent with the amendments to the regulations that the Board adopted last year for the transition of the high school ELA and mathematics assessments.

In addition, the amendments remove references to specific subject area high school tests, granting the Board policy-making authority to determine which subject area tests will be offered to students in order to meet the CD requirements. Please note, however, that I am not proposing any changes in the subject area tests at this time. We have previously discussed the possibility of eliminating the chemistry and technology/engineering tests, and in response to feedback I have received this fall and during the public comment period, it is clear that further study and consultation with the field is needed, before I recommend a decision to the Board on high school science assessment options.

Summary of Public Comment

The public comment period on the proposed changes to the regulations opened following the Board meeting on November 18, 2018, and closed on January 11, 2019.

One hundred members of the public, including teachers, principals, school committee members, parents, and students, submitted public comment. A summary of the responses is attached.

The majority of responses did not directly address the proposed amendments, and instead voiced opposition to the idea of phasing out the technology/engineering and chemistry tests, with a strong emphasis on retaining technology/engineering. The changes to the regulations do not phase out or eliminate these tests.

Only three of the responses specifically addressed the actual proposed amendments to the regulations; namely, the granting of policy-making authority to the Board to determine the disciplines that can be assessed for high school science. All three responses were opposed to this amendment because of the concern that such a change could lead to the elimination of the chemistry and technology/engineering tests.

We did not receive any comments that addressed the changes to the regulations that would establish an interim standard for the classes of 2023 and 2024.

Since the proposed amendments to the regulations do not include a recommendation to alter the current MCAS high school test offerings in science and technology/engineering, we determined that no changes to the proposed amendments are necessary based on the comments.

Additional recommended changes to the regulations

For consistency and clarity, I am recommending two other changes to the red-lined version of the regulations that the Board received in November:

  1. Clean up references to "science and technology/engineering" throughout the regulations, for internal consistency as well as consistency with the titles of the curriculum frameworks.

  2. In the section on performance appeals (603 CMR 30.05 (3)(d)), update the eligibility requirement for an MCAS-Alt appeal in science and technology/engineering to be the same as the requirement for an MCAS appeal for the standard test, such that a student need only have submitted the MCAS-Alt in science and technology/engineering once to be eligible for an appeal.

Summary of proposed changes

  1. Update language throughout the regulations, as applicable, to establish an interim passing standard for students in the classes of 2023 and 2024 in science and technology/engineering. Students in the classes of 2023 and 2024 would be expected to meet or exceed the scaled score threshold on the high school science and technology/engineering MCAS tests administered in 2020 or later that has been determined by the Commissioner to be comparable to the scaled score threshold of 220 on the high school science and technology/engineering tests administered before 2020.

  2. Update language throughout the regulations, as applicable, to remove references to specific subject area high school tests and grant the Board the policy-making authority to determine which subject area tests will be offered to students in order to meet the CD requirement in high school science and technology/engineering.

  3. Update outdated and/or inconsistent language and references in the regulations, including the two additional changes described in the previous section.

After the next-generation high school science and technology/engineering tests are administered to students in 2020, the Department will set performance standards on those tests. Once that is done, the Board will consider where to set the CD requirement for students in the classes of 2025 and beyond. In the meantime, for students in the class of 2023 (entering 9th grade in fall 2019) and the class of 2024, the interim CD in science and technology/engineering provides fairness during this transition period.

I recommend that the Board vote to adopt the proposed amendments to 603 CMR 30.00 as presented. A redlined version of the regulations is attached, along with a motion to adopt the amendments, and a summary of the comments that were received. Associate Commissioner Michol Stapel and Lucy Wall of our legal staff will join us for the discussion on February 12.

 

Attachments:

The following documents are public records and are available upon request.*

Download Word Document
Summary of public comment on proposed amendments
Download Word Document
Redlined version of proposed amendments to 603 CMR 30.00
 
Motion to adopt revised regulations

*Due to the volume of documents, limited web server space, and the Department's commitment to achieving meaningful accessibility to this online environment for all users, but most particularly for users with disabilities (we follow specific Commonwealth Enterprise Standards designed to meet the needs of our citizens with disabilities), we are unable to post this document on our webpage. Please send an email to boe@doe.mass.edu to request the document and we will respond promptly. Thank you.



Last Updated: February 5, 2019
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