The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Briefing for the December 15, 2015 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
December 4, 2015
The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, 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. Following the meeting, Board members are invited to a luncheon to honor former members Vanessa Calderón-Rosado and David Roach for their service. The Board will not hold a 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 the regular meeting on Tuesday starts with a review and discussion of the 2015 district and school accountability determinations. Next the Board will discuss the Southbridge Public Schools district review report and possible next steps. Three charter school items are on the agenda, two for a vote this month. The Board will have an initial discussion of the draft Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards. At the request of the Board's Budget Committee, we will have a briefing and opportunity to discuss the report and recommendations from the Foundation Budget Review Commission. The final item on our business agenda is an update on the Holyoke Public Schools.
Comments from the Chair
Chair Sagan will report on current issues and activities. We thank all members who have attended or will be attending hearings this month on new charter applicants. Members who attend the hearings will report to the Board at the February 2016 meeting, before the Board votes on any new charters.
Comments from the Commissioner
Federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. I will present the latest information we have about Congressional action to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Student assessment. The Department is proceeding to implement the student assessment plan that the Board endorsed on November 17. Among other things, we are working with school districts as they make assessment decisions for spring 2016. I will update the Board at our meeting.
EPIC: $4 million grant to improve educator preparation in Massachusetts. I am delighted that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has been awarded $4 million over three years to improve educator preparation programs across the Commonwealth. ESE is one of five entities nationwide to receive the grant, which is from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We will use the grant to launch Elevate Preparation: Impact Children (EPIC), through which ESE will work with the state's 71 initial teacher preparation programs to deepen the quality of and extend teacher candidates' training in the field, promote and support data-driven analysis of graduates' outcomes, and integrate the efforts of educator preparation providers and partners to meet the increasing demand for high-quality, diverse educators. The goal is that by 2022, first-year teachers prepared by those providers will show results equivalent to peers in their third year of teaching. I expect to brief the Board in more detail in 2016 about this EPIC initiative.
America's Promise Grant. I am pleased to share that Massachusetts is one of only three states selected for a GradNation State Activation award of $200,000. The GradNation State Activation initiative is a collaboration between America's Promise Alliance and Pearson working to increase national high school graduation rates to 90 percent. Through support from the GradNation the Department will create a cross-district learning community of up to 10 school districts to improve high school graduation rates for students whose first language is not English (FLNE). In recent years Massachusetts has made great progress increasing the high school graduation rate, however, despite these large gains challenges remain, particularly with FLNE students who account for 30 percent of all young people who leave school without a diploma. The Department will provide districts with small grants to serve as demonstration sites for the planning and implementation of innovative programs and policies, as well as provide professional development and training, share ideas, and collaborate with state and community partners. Earlier this month I launched a state-level leadership group for this project that includes key external experts as well as several offices within the Department.
Civic Learning and Engagement. We are making good progress on the action plan for civic learning and engagement. You will find details under Tab 11. I want to call your attention to the draft revised definition of college and career readiness (relating to readiness for civic life) that our Department has been collaborating on with the Department of Higher Education. We are anticipating a joint meeting of the Board of ESE and Board of Higher Education, perhaps in January 2016, at which the two boards will discuss and may choose to vote on the revised definition.
Comments from the Secretary
Secretary Peyser will brief the Board on current issues and activities.
2015 District and School Accountability Determinations - Discussion
We reviewed and discussed the 2015 MCAS and PARCC results at the Board meetings in September, October, and November. On December 15, I will present an overview of the 2015 district and school accountability determinations, including decisions made for certain Level 4 (underperforming) schools. These determinations, which we plan to release during the week of December 7, are based in part on the 2015 MCAS and PARCC results for districts and schools.
Southbridge Public Schools: District Review Report and Possible Next Steps - Discussion
The Board declared Southbridge Public Schools to be a Level 4 (underperforming) district in September 2004. Since 2012, the district has been operating under an Accelerated Improvement Plan. Southbridge has made limited progress and my level of concern is substantial. The areas of district performance that are concerning include low student achievement, high suspension rates, instability in key leadership positions, and overall governance of the district. On December 15, we will discuss the report from the district review that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education conducted recently. (I will send you the report during the week of December 7, as soon as it is completed.) Under Tab 2 are two documents that outline the Department's history of programmatic and financial assistance to the Southbridge Public Schools. Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston and Rob Curtin will join us at the December 15 meeting for this discussion. No action will be taken at the December Board meeting.
Proposed Amendment to Charter for Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School - Discussion and Vote
In February 2015, I renewed the charter of Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School (CCLCS) with a condition pertaining to the school's grade span and maximum enrollment. The school has met the condition. In August, CCLCS's executive director submitted a request to decrease CCLCS's chartered grade span from 6-12 to 6-8 and change the maximum enrollment from 400 to 260. I recommend that the Board vote to approve the changes to CCLCS's grade span and maximum enrollment. Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang, and other members of our staff will be at the meeting to answer your questions about this and other charter school matters.
Report on Probation for Global Learning Charter Public School - Discussion and Vote
The Board placed Global Learning Charter Public School (GLCPS) on probation in January 2014 and imposed conditions designed to improve the school's academic program and results. After we release official school and district accountability results, I anticipate that GLCPS will have met the conditions imposed by the Board. In keeping with past accountability decisions, I will
recommend that the Board vote to remove the school from probation but direct that it shall operate under a further academic condition in order to ensure sustained academic progress. You will receive a memorandum next week detailing my recommendation after the school and district accountability results are finalized
Report on Probation and Next Steps for Dorchester Collegiate Academy Charter School - Initial Discussion
I am presenting for initial discussion the probationary status of Dorchester Collegiate Academy Charter School. The school's lackluster academic progress is troubling. As a seven year-old school, I expect DCACS to be hitting its stride as a robust academic institution. You will receive a memorandum next week detailing my concerns after the school and district accountability results are finalized. No action will be taken at the December Board meeting.
Proposed Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards - Initial Discussion
At the December 15 meeting we will have an initial discussion of the draft Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DL&CS) Standards. The draft standards are enclosed under Tab 6. I plan to bring the draft standards back to the Board in January 2016 for further discussion and a vote to release them for public comment. I anticipate asking the Board to adopt the final version of the DL&CS Standards/Curriculum Framework in the spring of 2016, and will present an implementation plan that will be supported by the Department and other partners, particularly the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN). Senior Associate Commissioner Brooke Clenchy, Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang, and others who have been engaged in this work will be at the Board meeting on December 15 to provide context and answer your questions.
Foundation Budget Review Commission Recommendations - Discussion
The Board's Budget Committee requested a briefing for the Board on the final recommendations from the Foundation Budget Review Commission, which released its final report on October 30, 2015. A copy of the report is enclosed under Tab 7. The commission was created by the Legislature in 2014 to review and make recommendations on the Commonwealth's school funding formula. It was chaired by the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Education, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz and Representative Alice Peisch, and included representatives from a wide variety of constituent groups. Secretary Peyser and I were ex officio members. At our meeting on December 15, Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, School Finance Director Roger Hatch, and other members of our staff will walk you through the recommendations.
Holyoke Public Schools Monthly Report - Discussion
Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston and Ventura Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the Commissioner, will present the monthly update on our work with the Holyoke Public Schools.
Other Items for Information
State Education Budget Transmittal Letter from Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Enclosed is my memo to Secretary Peyser transmitting the Board's FY2017 state education budget priorities, per the Board's vote at your meeting on November 17, 2015.
Advisory Councils: FY2015 Annual Reports
The Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 established advisory councils to advise the Commissioner and the Board on matters related to improving public education and student achievement. The advisory councils are made up of volunteers who work with us to improve public education by providing advice and comment in specific program areas. We will provide you with the annual reports from each of the advisory councils next week.
Civic Learning and Engagement: Update on Department Action Plan
Enclosed under Tab 11 is an update on the Civic Learning and Engagement action plan that I presented to the Board in October.
If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you on December 15.