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Education Laws and Regulations

603 CMR 2.00:
Accountability and Assistance for School Districts and Schools

Section:
2.02:
2.03:
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2.06:
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2.06 Accountability and Assistance for Chronically Underperforming Districts and Schools

(1) Designating districts as chronically underperforming

(a) A district shall be eligible for designation as chronically underperforming if it is not a single-school district and it scores in the lowest 10% statewide of districts of the same grade levels on a single measure developed by the Department that takes into account at least:

  1. district MCAS achievement in English language arts, mathematics, and science; and

  2. student growth in English language arts and mathematics.

(b) The Board may designate an eligible district as chronically underperforming, if the commissioner so recommends, on the basis of one or more of the following:

  1. a district review report;

  2. a report from an accountability monitor appointed pursuant to 603 CMR 2.05(4)(b);

  3. a follow-up review report;

  4. quantitative indicators such as student attendance, dismissal, suspension, exclusion, promotion, graduation, and dropout rates, upon the determination of each indicator's reliability and validity, or lack of demonstrated significant improvement for two or more consecutive years in core academic subjects, either in the aggregate or among subgroups of students, including designations based on special education, economic disadvantage, English language proficiency, and racial classifications, or annual growth in MCAS performance for students in the district as compared with peers across the Commonwealth; or

  5. the failure of an underperforming district to meet, in a timely manner, the benchmarks or goals in its current Underperforming District Plan as approved by the Department pursuant to 603 CMR 2.05(8)(d).

(c) Not more than 2.5% of the total number of school districts may be designated as chronically underperforming at any given time.

(d) Before the commissioner recommends that an eligible district be designated as chronically underperforming, a district review team including at least one member with expertise in the academic achievement of students with limited English proficiency shall conduct a district review to assess and report on the reasons for the district's underperformance and the prospects for improvement, unless the commissioner determines that a new review is unnecessary because a district review conducted within the last year is adequate.

(e) Before designating a district as chronically underperforming, the Board shall consider the findings of the most recent district review, as well as multiple quantitative indicators of district quality such as those listed in 603 CMR 2.06(1)(b)(4).

(f) School district and municipal officials, including the school committee, as well as the local teachers' union or association president or designee, a representative of the local parent organization, and members of the public, shall have an opportunity to be heard by the Board before final action by the Board to designate the district as chronically underperforming.

(2) Designating schools as chronically underperforming

(a) The commissioner may reclassify an underperforming school as chronically underperforming at the expiration of its turnaround plan if the commissioner determines:

  1. that the school has failed to improve as required by the goals, benchmarks, or timetable of the turnaround plan; or

  2. that the school has failed to make significant improvement and that conditions in the district make it unlikely that the school will make significant improvement unless it is designated as chronically underperforming.

(b) Charter schools and Commonwealth of Massachusetts virtual schools shall not be eligible for designation as chronically underperforming schools. Charter schools shall also be held accountable under the provisions of M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, and 603 CMR 1.00. Commonwealth of Massachusetts virtual schools shall also be held accountable under the provisions of M.G.L. c. 71, § 94, and 603 CMR 52.00.

(c) School, school district, and municipal officials, including the school committee, as well as the local teachers' union or association president or designee, a representative of the school's parent organization, and family members of students at the school, shall have an opportunity to meet with the commissioner or his or her designee before the commissioner designates a school as chronically underperforming.

(3) Appointment and powers of receiver for a chronically underperforming district

(a) Following the designation of a district as chronically underperforming under 603 CMR 2.06(1)(b), the commissioner, on behalf of the Board, shall appoint a receiver for the district pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K(a).

(b) The receiver shall have the powers provided to the receiver by M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K, including all of the powers of the superintendent and school committee and full managerial and operational control over the district, provided that the district shall remain the employer of record for all other purposes, and provided further that the commissioner may define the scope of the receiver's powers up to those set forth in M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K, based on conditions in the district or its schools. The commissioner may from time to time modify the scope of the receiver's powers based on conditions in the district or its schools.

(4) Replacement of receiver for a chronically underperforming district If the commissioner terminates the receiver for a chronically underperforming district pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K(h), the commissioner shall appoint another receiver for the district in accordance with M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K(a) and 603 CMR 2.06(3)(b).

(5) Receiver for a chronically underperforming school

(a) A receiver appointed by the commissioner for a chronically underperforming school pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, s. 1J(r), shall have all of the powers that the superintendent previously had over the school and all of the powers granted to a receiver for a chronically underperforming school by M.G.L. c. 69, s. 1J. The receiver shall report directly to the commissioner.

(b) If the commissioner terminates the receiver for a chronically underperforming school pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1J(v), the commissioner may appoint another receiver for the school in accordance with M.G.L. c. 69, § 1J(r) and 603 CMR 2.06(5)(a).

(6) Turnaround plans for chronically underperforming schools The turnaround plan developed for each chronically underperforming school shall

(a) be authorized, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1J(t), for a period of up to three years, and remain in effect until the statutory process to develop any new, modified or renewed turnaround plan has been completed, or the school has been removed from chronically underperforming status;

(b) fulfill the other requirements of M.G.L. c. 69, § 1J;

(c) provide for the implementation of the standards and indicators published pursuant to 603 CMR 2.03(6)(a) and (b);

(d) include benchmarks by which to measure progress toward the annual goals included in the plan pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1J, and the standards and indicators, and a timetable for achieving those benchmarks;

(e) include descriptions of the assistance to be provided by the Department in support of the action steps in the plan, subject to the availability of resources for the Department to provide the assistance; and

(f) be prepared on a format developed by the Department.

(7) Turnaround plans for chronically underperforming districts The turnaround plan developed for each chronically underperforming district shall:

(a) focus, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, §1K(b), on any chronically underperforming school or schools in the district and, using the most recent district review report as a guide, on any district policies or practices that have contributed to the designation of the school or schools or district as chronically underperforming, including but not limited to district systems for school support and intervention;

(b) be authorized, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K(f), for a period of up to three years, and remain in effect until the statutory process to develop any new, modified or renewed turnaround plan has been completed, or the district has been removed from chronically underperforming status;

(c) fulfill the other requirements of M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K;

(d) if the district has any underperforming or chronically underperforming schools, provide for the implementation in the district of the systems and processes described in 603 CMR 2.03(6), including, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K, new turnaround plans for any underperforming or chronically underperforming school for which the turnaround plans are deemed inadequate by the receiver.

(e) include, for the district: benchmarks by which to measure progress toward the annual goals included in the plan pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K, and a timetable for achieving those benchmarks;

(f) describe the assistance to be provided by the Department in support of the action steps in the plan, subject to the availability of the resources for the Department to provide the assistance; and

(g) be prepared on a format developed by the Department.

(8) Quarterly reports for chronically underperforming schools and districts

(a) Quarterly reports for chronically underperforming schools, including the review by the commissioner to be submitted at least annually to the superintendent and the school committee, shall be submitted pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1J(u) and (v) on a format developed by the Department.

(b) Quarterly reports for chronically underperforming districts, including the evaluation by the commissioner to be submitted at least annually to the Board and the school committee, shall submitted pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K(g) and (h) on a format developed by the Department.

(9) Reports to the Board The commissioner shall report regularly to the Board on the progress made by each chronically underperforming district and school.

(10) Removal of chronically underperforming school designation

(a) The commissioner shall define for each chronically underperforming school the academic and other progress that it must make for it to be removed from chronically underperforming status. Such progress may include:

  1. an increase in student achievement for three years for students overall and for each subgroup of students, as shown by:

    1. an increase in MCAS scores and an increase in student growth;

    2. (for a high school) a higher graduation rate; and

    3. (for a high school) a measure of postsecondary success, once the Department identifies one that is sufficiently reliable, valid, and timely; and

  2. progress in implementing the standards and indicators published pursuant to 603 CMR 2.03(6)(a) and (b).

(b) The commissioner, in defining the required progress for each school, shall customize it to the particular reasons the school was designated as chronically underperforming, defining it as any or all of the progress in 603 CMR 2.06(10)(a)1 and 2, or any other progress the commissioner determines appropriate.

(c) The commissioner shall remove a school from chronically underperforming status when, at any time, the commissioner determines, based on evidence that may include a report from the accountability monitor appointed pursuant to 603 CMR 2.05(4)(b), from the school's or district's receiver, if any, from a district review, or from a follow-up review, that:

  1. the school has achieved the academic and other progress defined by the commissioner under 603 CMR 2.06(10)(a) and (b) as necessary to allow it to be removed from chronically underperforming status; and

  2. the district has the capacity to continue making progress in improving school performance without the accountability and assistance provided due to the school's chronically underperforming designation.

(d) The commissioner may remove a school from chronically underperforming status if the district in which the school resides is designated as chronically underperforming.

(e) At the expiration of the turnaround plan, in conducting a review of the school pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1J(w), the commissioner shall consider whether the conditions described in 603 CMR 2.06(10)(c)1 and 2 exist. If the commissioner determines that both of these conditions exist, he or she shall remove the school from chronically underperforming status.

(f) Following his review, the commissioner will make a determination as to whether the school has improved sufficiently to be removed from chronically underperforming status, or maintains its designation as chronically underperforming. The commissioner will make the determination in a reasonable period of time, and in any event within 2 months following the release of MCAS test results. The commissioner may extend this period of time for good cause.

(11) Effect of removal of chronically underperforming school designation; transitional period

(a) Upon the commissioner's removal of a school from chronically underperforming status, the provisions of M.G.L. c. 69, § 1J, for schools designated as chronically underperforming shall no longer apply to it and the employment of any receiver for the school shall end.

(b) The district and school may continue to use the turnaround plan in order to continue to improve school performance, renewing or revising it as appropriate, provided that any feature of the turnaround plan that was adopted pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1J(o), in contravention of any general or special law to the contrary shall be discontinued unless the commissioner determined before removing the school from chronically underperforming status that such feature of the turnaround plan would contribute to the continued improvement of the school and should continue for a transitional period after the removal. The commissioner may allow more than one such feature of the turnaround plan to continue.

(c) Upon making a determination pursuant to 603 CMR 2.06(11)(b) that such feature or features of the turnaround plan should continue, the commissioner shall define the progress that the school must make for each continuing feature of the plan to be discontinued.

(d) On determination by the commissioner at any time, based on evidence that may include evidence from a school or district review or a follow-up review, that the school has made the progress defined under 603 CMR 2.06(11)(c) as necessary to allow a continuing feature of the turnaround plan to be discontinued

  1. such feature shall be discontinued; and

  2. any powers granted to the commissioner or Board with respect to the school under M.G.L. c. 69, § 1J, that did not cease on removal of the school from chronically underperforming status shall cease.

(e) Two years after the removal of the school from chronically underperforming status, if any of the continuing features of the turnaround plan has yet to be discontinued, the commissioner shall conduct a review of the school to determine whether such continuing feature or features should remain in place or be discontinued.

(12) Termination of receivership and removal of chronically underperforming district designation

(a)The commissioner shall define for each chronically underperforming district the academic and other progress that it must make for it to be removed from chronically underperforming status. Such progress may include:

  1. an increase in student achievement for three years for students overall and for each subgroup of students, as shown by:

    1. an increase in MCAS scores and an increase in student growth;

    2. a higher graduation rate; and

    3. a measure of postsecondary success, once the Department identifies one that is sufficiently reliable, valid, and timely;

  2. the implementation of district systems and practices that meet district standards established under 603 CMR 2.03(6); and

  3. progress in implementing in the district's schools the standards and indicators published pursuant to 603 CMR 2.03(6)(a) and (b).

(b) The commissioner, in defining the required progress for the district, shall customize it to the particular reasons the district was designated as chronically underperforming, defining it as any or all of the progress in 603 CMR 2.06(12)(a)1 through 3, or any other progress the commissioner determines appropriate.

(c) The commissioner shall terminate the receivership and remove the district from chronically underperforming status when, at any time, the commissioner determines, based on evidence that may include a report from the district's receiver or a follow-up review, that

  1. the district has achieved the academic and other progress defined by the commissioner under 603 CMR 2.06(12)(a) and (b) as necessary to allow it to be removed from chronically underperforming status; and

  2. the district has the capacity to continue making progress without the accountability and assistance provided by designation as a chronically underperforming district.

(d) At the expiration of the turnaround plan, in reevaluating the district's chronically underperforming status pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K(i), the commissioner shall consider whether the conditions described in 603 CMR 2.06(12)(c)1 and 2 exist. If the commissioner determines that both of these conditions exist, he or she shall terminate the receivership and remove the district from chronically underperforming status.

(e) Following his review, the commissioner will make a determination as to whether the district has improved sufficiently to be removed from chronically underperforming status, or maintains its designation as chronically underperforming. The commissioner will make the determination in a reasonable period of time, and in any event within 2 months following the release of MCAS test results. The commissioner may extend this period of time for good cause.

(13) Effect of removal of chronically underperforming district designation; transitional period

(a) Upon the commissioner's removal of a district from chronically underperforming status, the provisions of M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K, for districts designated as chronically underperforming shall no longer apply to it and the employment of the receiver shall end.

(b) The district may continue to use the turnaround plan in order to continue to improve students' academic performance, renewing or revising it as appropriate, provided that any feature of the turnaround plan that was adopted pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K(d), in contravention of any general or special law to the contrary shall be discontinued unless the commissioner determined, before removing the district from chronically underperforming status, that such feature of the turnaround plan would contribute to the continued improvement of the district and should continue for a transitional period after the removal. The commissioner may allow more than one such feature of the turnaround plan to continue.

(c) Upon making a determination pursuant to 603 CMR 2.06(13)(b) that such feature or features of the turnaround plan should continue, the commissioner shall define the progress that the district must make for each continuing feature of the plan to be discontinued.

(d) On determination by the commissioner at any time, based on evidence that may include evidence from a district review, a report from the district's receiver, or a follow-up review, that the district has made the progress defined under 603 CMR 2.06(13)(c) as necessary to allow a continuing feature of the turnaround plan to be discontinued:

  1. such feature shall be discontinued; and

  2. any powers granted to the commissioner or Board with respect to the district under M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K, that did not cease on removal of the district from chronically underperforming status shall cease.

(e) Two years after the removal of the district from chronically underperforming status, if any of the continuing features of the turnaround plan has yet to be discontinued, the commissioner shall conduct a review of the district to determine whether such continuing feature or features should remain in place or be discontinued.

(14) Petition by school committee of a chronically underperforming district

(a) When the school committee of a chronically underperforming district petitions the commissioner, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 69, § 1K (i), for either modification of the turnaround plan or elimination of the turnaround plan and termination of the receivership, the commissioner shall decide the petition after considering the following:

  1. written arguments and supporting documentation submitted with the petition by the school committee;

  2. written arguments and supporting documentation submitted in response to the petition by the receiver; and

  3. the report of any follow-up review conducted since the district was designated as chronically underperforming.

(b) If no follow-up review has been conducted within the last year before the commissioner's receipt of the petition and the commissioner determines that such a review would be useful in deciding on the petition, the commissioner may cause one to be conducted and delay the decision on the petition until 30 days after receiving the follow-up review report, provided that a decision on the petition shall be made within four months of the commissioner's receipt of the petition.

(c) Within 30 days of receiving the commissioner's decision, the school committee may appeal an adverse decision to the Board. The Board shall consider the evidence described in 603 CMR 2.06(14)(a)1 through 3 and may consider other evidence from the school committee, receiver, and commissioner. The decision of the Board shall be made within 60 days of receiving the appeal and shall be final.

(d) Neither the process before the commissioner nor the process before the Board shall be an adjudicatory hearing.

(e) No petition for the elimination of the turnaround plan and termination of the receivership shall be granted unless the commissioner or, in the case of an appeal, the Board determines

  1. that the district has achieved the progress defined by the commissioner under 603 CMR 2.06(12)(a) as necessary to allow the district to be removed from chronically underperforming status or that the district has achieved other, comparable or superior progress; and

  2. that the district has the capacity to continue making progress without the accountability and assistance provided by designation as chronically underperforming.

(f) Upon a decision by the commissioner or the Board granting a petition for the elimination of the turnaround plan and termination of the receivership, the receivership shall be terminated and the district removed from chronically underperforming status.



Last Updated: July 11, 2018
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