The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the October 23, 2012 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
October 12, 2012

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 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) and should adjourn by 1 p.m. The Board will not hold a special meeting this month. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call JC Considine at (781) 338-3112.


Our business agenda this month leads off with a presentation and discussion of the initiatives our Department has undertaken and is proposing in response to the Task Force Report on Integrating College and Career Readiness, along with an overview of related state initiatives on college and career readiness. The Board's charter school committee will present an update on its work and the Board will vote on several charter amendments and receive information on charter school enrollments. Other items include continuing discussion of the Board's FY14 budget proposal, with a report from the Board's budget committee, and an update on Level 4 schools.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Vice-Chair

Vice-Chair Beverly Holmes will chair the October 23 meeting since Chair Banta is unable to attend. The Vice-Chair will invite members to report on the work of the Board's proficiency gap committee and the commissioner's performance evaluation committee.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Lawrence Public Schools update. Next month, we will hold the November 27, 2012 Board meeting in Lawrence, which will give the Board an opportunity to view as well as hear about some of the ways the state receivership is transforming education for the students of that city, under Jeff Riley's leadership. In the meantime, I want to provide additional information in response to questions the Board had as a result of our Lawrence receivership update at the September meeting:

    • There was a question about the number of students attending Phoenix Academy, the new high school that the Receiver has created as an alternative high school option. As of the end of September, 136 students were enrolled at Phoenix Academy Lawrence.

    • A question was raised about the rate of student mobility, so we asked the district to pull some data for you. As of October 1, 2011, the Lawrence Public Schools enrolled 12,900 students; by the end of the year, the district had served 14,587 students.

      • 1,384 students transferred out of the district during the school year, either to other districts or dropping out of school entirely.
      • 1,807 new students were enrolled in LPS during the school year.
      • 855 students (7%) transferred between schools within the district last year.

    • There was a question about the school operational plans, which are the vehicle through which individual schools can propose how their school will operate. These plans are reviewed and approved by the Receiver. The Receiver and his team are now developing the autonomy/accountability system described in the district's turnaround plan. Schools will be allowed autonomy to propose models for the following components of their operations depending on their performance:

      • Policies
      • School calendar
      • Services & Supports
      • Budget & Procurement
      • Staffing
      • Professional Development
      • Curriculum & Assessment

      While schools may propose models in these areas dependent on their autonomy levels, some foundational expectations and decisions will be driven by the central office. For instance, all school policies must comply with all appropriate federal and state laws. Schools may propose to use a range of curricular materials, but all will be aligned with the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks/Common Core State Standards. While formative assessments will be used at each school, some schools are piloting Achievement Network assessments this year.

    • The 5th Grade Academy at South Lawrence East Middle School; UP Academy Lawrence; Community Day at Arlington Elementary; and Phoenix Academy Lawrence completed operational plans this summer that were approved by the Receiver and outline how these schools are operating for the 2012-2013 school year.

    • Over this school year, all other Lawrence schools will be using school site councils to develop school operational plans that will go into effect for the 2013-2014 school year.

    • Each school's operational plan will address how time is used at that school for both students and teachers. The Receiver is working now to develop technical assistance materials and opportunities for schools and their school site councils so they can make informed decisions about how their schools will use time.

    I also want to direct your attention to an article on Lawrence that I have included with the education-related news clippings under Tab 10. The article, "High stakes test," appears in the fall 2012 edition of MassInc's CommonWealth Magazine.

  2. Legislative reports. The Department recently submitted three reports to the Legislature, on Kindergarten Expansion Grants (September 2012), After-School and Out-of-School Grants (September 2012), and School Redesign: Expanded Learning Time to Support Student Success (August 2012).

  3. Rennie Center report on Smart School Budgeting. The Rennie Center recently held a session devoted to school budgeting in which Deputy Commissioner Wulfson participated. Decisionmaking about expenditures is a topic that will increase in importance as districts and schools are asked to educate all students well at a time when revenues are limited.

  4. Gloucester Community Arts Charter School. As planned, the Department is reviewing the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School and we expect to have a report for the Board at your November meeting.

  5. Welcome to Tom Moreau. I am pleased to introduce Tom Moreau to the Board this month. Tom has joined the Department as director of school and district resource planning. Tom was most recently the education policy advisor in Speaker DeLeo's office; prior to that he was the research director for the Joint Committee on Education. Tom will work on a number of projects to craft policies, legislative proposals, and tools to help school districts address the increasing demands placed on them in an era of limited fiscal resources.

Comments from the Secretary

Secretary Reville will brief the Board on current issues and activities.

Items for Discussion and Action

College and Career Readiness Initiatives:

  1. Commissioner's Response to Task Force Report on Integrating College and Career Readiness - Discussion

    At the June 2012 Board meeting, Gerald Chertavian, along with three other task force members, presented the report and recommendations of the Board's Task Force for the Integration of College and Career Readiness. We are all grateful to Gerald for his leadership of the Task Force and for bringing together so many varied and knowledgeable voices on this critical issue. This month I will present the Department's current initiatives and proposed actions in response to the Task Force recommendations. Senior Associate Commissioner Robert Bickerton, Associate Commissioner for Vocational, Workforce, and College Readiness Programs Pati Gregson, and Director of College and Career Readiness Keith Westrich will be at the October 23 Board meeting to answer your questions.

  2. Related State Initiatives on College and Career Readiness - Discussion

    As a complement to item 1 on the agenda, we have asked Marybeth Campbell, Director of Education and Workforce Development at the Executive Offices of Education, Labor and Workforce Development, and Housing and Economic Development; and Saeyun Lee, Policy Director at the Executive Office of Education, to present an overview of some college and career readiness initiatives on which our Department is collaborating.

Charter Schools:

  1. Update from Charter School Committee - Discussion

    The Board's Charter School Committee is meeting on October 22. Vice-Chair Holmes, who chairs the committee, will present an update at our October 23 meeting.

  2. Amendments Proposed for Charter Schools - Discussion and Vote

    I am recommending approval of expansion requests from the Community Charter School of Cambridge, Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School, and the South Shore Charter Public School. The memo under Tab 4 explains each amendment request in detail.

  3. Charter School Enrollment Report - Discussion

    As a follow up to new requirements under An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap, we are preparing an initial view of charter school enrollment trends. I will distribute materials related to this agenda item prior to our October 23 meeting.

  4. Charter School Authorizing Activities

    Between October 2012 and March 2013, the Board will be asked to take a significant number of votes related to its statutory role as a charter school authorizer. The memo under Tab 6 summarizes the statutory framework for charter schools and the Board's responsibility as the charter authorizer. I will provide an overview of those authorizing activities at our October 23 meeting.

Other Items for Discussion:

  1. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education FY14 Budget Proposal and Report from the Board's Budget Committee - Initial Discussion

    At this month's meeting we will hear a report from the Board's budget committee and discuss possible budget priorities and program initiatives that the Board may wish to propose. The committee meeting is on October 15.

  2. Update on Level 4 Schools - Discussion

    In 2010, pursuant to our responsibilities under An Act Relative to the Achievement Gap and the Board's Regulations on Accountability and Assistance for School Districts and Schools, we identified 35 Level 4 schools representing nine districts. In November 2011, we identified six additional Level 4 schools in four districts. Most recently, in September 2012, we identified three additional Level 4 schools in three districts. Under Tab 8 is an update on the Level 4 schools. Senior Associate Commissioner Lynda Foisy and Jesse Dixon will be at the October 23 Board meeting to answer your questions.

Other Items for Information

  1. Schedule of Anticipated 2012 - 2013 Charter Actions

    Under Tab 9 you will find the Tentative Schedule of Charter Authorizing Agenda Items, for October 2012 through February 2013.

  2. Education-Related News Clippings

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

  3. Report on Grants and Charter School Matters Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 11 you will find reports on grants and charter school matters that I approved since the last Board meeting, under the authority that the Board has delegated to me.

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the Department on October 23.