Commissioner's Weekly Update - March 1, 2013
Governor's FY14 Budget Recommendations:
The Patrick-Murray Administration this week released an interactive set of online tools to provide stakeholders statewide with detailed information about how the Governor's FY14 budget recommendations will directly benefit communities. One tool includes maps organized by legislative districts to illustrate education and transportation investments under the Governor's plan. For more info, go to http://www.mass.gov/governor/agenda/choose-growth.html.
Board Meeting Recap:
At its Feb. 25-26 meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to grant charters to the founders of five proposed charter schools and to approve expansion requests from 11 existing charter schools to add seats to their current enrollments. The Board voted to remove Lowell Community Charter Public School from probation and remove the conditions from Academy of the Pacific Rim, Edward W. Brooke Charter School, and Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School. The Board voted to place Boston Renaissance Charter Public School on probation. The Board also voted to adopt the proposed Massachusetts definition of college and career readiness, heard an update on the state and federal education budgets, and delegated authority to the commissioner with respect to the approval of educational collaborative agreements and the removal or continuance of conditions on charter schools.
Guidance on Nondiscrimination Based on Gender Identity:
In 2011, the Massachusetts Legislature passed and Governor Patrick signed into law An Act Relative to Gender Identity (Chapter 199 of the Acts of 2011), which amended several state statutes that prohibit discrimination on the basis of specified categories, to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity. That law took effect on July 1, 2012. In response, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education amended the Access to Equal Opportunity regulations and charter school regulations in June 2012 and asked ESE to issue more detailed guidance to schools. On Feb. 15, 2013, through the Weekly Update, ESE released guidance to help school districts implement the law.
Since we issued the guidance, we have heard from and spoken with some superintendents and legislators who asked about the process for developing the guidance document and its purpose. ESE regularly issues guidance on various aspects of state and federal law to assist school and district leaders. The gender identity guidance offers our interpretation of the meaning and application of the law, informed by the experience of school leaders and others in Massachusetts and elsewhere who have actually dealt with these issues in their schools.
In this instance, the guidance includes specific examples of how Massachusetts educators with experience dealing with transgender students and their families have developed practical solutions to support these students. To inform the development of the guidance, ESE put together a working group that included school and district leaders, a student, and representatives from Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the Mass. Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth, the Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association, the Mass. Secondary Schools Administrators Association, the Mass. Association of School Superintendents, the Mass. Association of School Committees, the Mass. Transgender Political Coalition, and Greater Boston Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. We appreciate the input of all these parties and, as always, ESE stands ready to assist districts and schools in addressing these complex and sensitive issues.
Educator Evaluation Update:
During the 2013-14 school year, all districts will come up with a rating (high, moderate, or low) to reflect each educator's impact on student learning, growth, and achievement. Districts must base the Impact Rating on trends and patterns using at least two years of data and at least two measures of student learning. Each measure of student learning - called District-Determined Measures (DDMs) - used to determine the impact rating must be comparable across grades and subjects district-wide. MCAS student growth scores must be used as one of the measures, where available.
In Sept. 2013, districts will report to ESE the following information:
- Grades and subjects for implementation of DDMs in 2013-14;
- Grades and subjects for piloting DDMs in 2013-14;
- Grades and subjects that lack DDMs, for which districts will research and/or develop measures to pilot in spring 2014; and
- A plan for determining impact ratings based on DDMs for some educators by the end of the 2013-14 school year, and for all educators by the end of the 2015-16 school year.
For more info on DDMs, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/edeval/resources/QRG-Measures.pdf.
This Week's School Visits:
Commissioner Chester visited Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge.
For Your Info:
- MA School Breakfast Challenge: Commissioner Chester will officially launch the challenge on Wed., March 6 at the Morse School in Cambridge. The Commissioner will challenge every school district to increase student participation in school breakfast programs by 35 percent over the next two years. For more info on the challenge and for helpful tools and resources, go to http://www.maschoolbreakfast.org.
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