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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Proposed Modifications to the District and School Accountability System

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner
Date:June 14, 2019

At the June 25, 2019 meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board), I will recommend that the Board vote to approve modifications to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's (Department) district and school accountability system.1 The modifications were introduced at the Board's regular meeting on March 15, 2019. Since then, the Department has solicited public comment, convened a meeting of the Board's Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council (AAAC), and held information sessions with district and school personnel. These activities, and the revised proposed modifications, are summarized in this memo.

Public Comment

The Department invited the public to comment on the district and school accountability system, including the proposed changes, during the period from April 12, 2019 to May 31, 2019. The Department received 40 written comments during the public comment period. The most commented-on issues were:

  • The proposed change to the assessment participation calculation used in the accountability system (i.e., changing from calculating participation rates separately for each subject [ELA, math, science] for each subgroup, to calculating participation rates for all subjects combined at the subgroup level)
  • The use of chronic absenteeism as an indicator in the system and whether to include all student absences in the calculation (no change proposed)
  • The proposed addition of Project Lead the Way courses to the advanced coursework calculation
  • The proposed change to reporting on three categories of progress being made towards accountability targets (rather than two categories — meeting targets and partially meeting targets — as in 2018)
  • The proposed use of multiple years of data in the accountability system (e.g., accountability results for 2019 would include 2018 and 2019 data)

Attached is a document summarizing the comments that were received, the individuals and organizations that submitted them, and the Department's responses.

AAAC Discussion

The Board's Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council (AAAC) discussed the proposed changes to the accountability system on May 29, 2019. Council members discussed the four major changes that were proposed for public comment:

  • A change in the assessment participation calculation to mitigate the impact of small subgroups on the accountability determination of the whole school
  • The addition of Project Lead the Way courses to the advanced coursework calculation
  • The use of two years of data in the 2019 accountability calculations
  • A shift from two categories of reporting progress towards accountability targets to three categories in 2019

Council members voiced general support for the change to the assessment participation calculation, the addition of Project Lead the Way courses, and the use of multiple years of data in the 2019 accountability determinations. With respect to the shift to three categories of reporting progress towards accountability targets, Council members suggested the Department consider adding a fourth reporting category to provide additional context on each school's level of improvement towards accountability targets.

Proposed Modifications

Based on the public comment received, and our discussions with the AAAC and other stakeholders, I recommend that the Board approve three of the four modifications as discussed at the March meeting, and approve the fourth as revised based on the comments received from the AAAC and others. Specifically, I am recommending the following without modification:

  • Change the assessment participation calculation used for accountability determinations to mitigate the impact of small subgroups
  • Add Project Lead the Way courses to the advanced coursework calculation
  • Use two years of data in the accountability system (2018 and 2019) and weight the 2019 results at 60% of the calculation.

On the fourth — how the Department categorizes and reports on progress towards meeting targets — I agree with the comments that it makes sense to report on four categories of progress rather than using three progress reporting categories. The Board approved the shift from two to three categories in June 2018. Many commenters and the AAAC suggested that the Department should be more expansive in reporting on the improvement made by districts and schools. Based on this feedback, I recommend a move to four categories of reporting progress towards accountability targets. The four categories would be: meeting or exceeding targets, significant progress towards targets, moderate progress towards targets and limited or no progress towards targets.

The attached summary of the accountability system describes the key components of the system, including the modifications discussed above. I recommend that the Board vote on June 25 to approve the accountability system, as described in this document.

Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston and Associate Commissioner Rob Curtin will be available at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

Enclosures:

Download Word Document
Attachment 1: Summary of Public Comment Received
Download Word Document
Attachment 2: Summary of the District and School Accountability System (clean version)
Download Word Document
Attachment 3: Summary of the District and School Accountability System (redlined version)
Download PowerPoint File
District and School Accountability System: Recommended Modifications
 
Motion


1 The proposed modifications to the district and school accountability system do not require revisions to the accountability regulations. They do require discussion by the Board and the opportunity for public comment. See, 603 CMR 2.03(10) (The Department shall solicit public comment on proposed changes to the framework for district and school accountability and assistance, including changes to the indicators or weighing of indicators in the framework. After considering public comment, the commissioner will forward a recommendation for any proposed changes to the Board for approval.).



Last Updated: June 18, 2019
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