The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Statement by James A. Peyser to the Board of Education
January 23, 2001
The year 2000 was an extraordinarily productive year for the Board of Education. We adopted revised regulations governing Special Education, clarifying eligibility criteria and introducing a modicum of local flexibility in the administration of the program. We put into place the Certificate of Mastery to recognize the achievements of the Commonwealth's highest performing students. We adopted district performance standards, which will serve as the basis for regular comprehensive district-level performance evaluations. We enacted regulations reforming the school building assistance program, rationalizing the reimbursement formula to provide incentives for sound facilities management and cost-effective construction plans. We worked with the City of Lawrence to hire a new superintendent, in order to bring stability and a renewed focus on academic achievement to that troubled district. We approved revisions to curriculum frameworks in math, English and science, which will help clarify expectations for student learning and support local curriculum development. And we adopted new regulations reforming the educator certification system, in order to place greater focus on subject mastery and reading instruction, and to create new alternative pathways into the profession for highly qualified individuals, including mid-career professionals.
In short, last year the Board put into place most of the remaining policy changes envisioned by the Education Reform Act. This is a great accomplishment and we should all take a measure of satisfaction in it. At the same time, we should recognize two things. First, we could not have achieved any of this without the dedicated and tireless support of the Commissioner and all his staff within the Department. Second, putting policies in place is the easy part. Seeing them through to success in the classroom is where the rubber meets the road.
For 2001 and beyond, our focus has to be on the blocking and tackling of implementation. While there will continue to be policy issues that come before the Board, our primary task must be to guide and support the Department in its efforts to make educational reform and improvement a reality. Of utmost importance, of course, is ensuring that we complete the roll out of our student assessment system in a way that ensures faithfulness to meaningful academic standards and fairness to all students. In doing so, the Commissioner and I will work together to reach out to educators in the field, to invite their participation, and to listen to their counsel.
2000 was a year of decisions. 2001 must be a year of results.