The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the February 24, 2014 Special Meeting and the February 25, 2014 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
February 14, 2014

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 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. The Board will also hold a special meeting from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, February 24, 2014, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's offices at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden. In addition, the Board's Charter School Committee is meeting at the Department from 3-4:30 p.m. on Monday, February 24, 2014. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call JC Considine at (781) 338-3112.


Our special meeting on Monday evening will focus on civic engagement and learning. The business agenda for our regular meeting on Tuesday morning leads off with a review and initial vote to solicit public comment on proposed amendments to regulations on license requirements for teachers of deaf and hard of hearing students. We will have an update on our work with the Level 5 schools and an update on PARCC. The Board will vote on the award of a certificate to operate a new Commonwealth virtual school, two new charter schools, and several other charter school matters.

Special Meeting

  1. Civic Engagement and Learning - Discussion

    The mission of the Board is "to strengthen the Commonwealth's public education system so that every student is prepared to succeed in postsecondary education, compete in the global economy, and understand the rights and responsibilities of American citizens, and in so doing, to close all proficiency gaps." Board member David Roach suggested a few months ago that the Board devote some time to discussing the role of schools in developing a stronger pipeline to active citizenship through civic education and engagement. Our special meeting on February 24 is a great opportunity for the Board to discuss the current state of civic engagement in our schools and opportunities to strengthen that engagement.

    Senator Richard Moore, who chaired the Special Commission on Civic Engagement and Learning, will join us to discuss the Commission's 2013 report, Renewing the Social Compact, and progress made on its recommendations. Department staff will provide a brief update on our History and Social Science Framework, the curriculum work we are doing with support from Race to the Top, and community-service learning efforts. Representatives from the Malden Public Schools will present an overview of a community-service learning program in their district. We will reserve ample time for discussion, questions and comments from Board members. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and activities. She will appoint members to the Commissioner's Evaluation Committee. The Chair will also invite the Board's Charter School Committee to report on its February 24 meeting.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. State education budget. The Ways & Means Committees are hosting their FY15 budget hearing on education and local aid on February 25, the same day as our Board meeting. Senator Downing and Representative Kulik will co-chair the hearing, which will be held at UMass Amherst. Secretary Malone will testify, and Deputy Commissioners Alan Ingram and Jeff Wulfson and Chief Financial Officer Bill Bell will represent the Board and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. I will keep you posted on the state education budget as the process continues.

  2. Computer science education. The Massachusetts Technology Literacy Standards and Expectations that we published in 2008, help "students develop technology literacy skills to learn the content of the curriculum, as well as to be able to succeed and thrive in their adult lives." These standards however, do not include the study of computer science itself. During 2013, the Department entered discussions with the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN), which has been advocating for computer science education in Massachusetts schools. We also formed an internal group within the Department to consider the role of computer science education in the K-12 curriculum.

These discussions have led to a vision of expanded computing education opportunities for all students. To realize this vision, the Department will be collaborating with MassCAN on the development of voluntary Computer Science Standards for Massachusetts schools. The current Technology Literacy standards will be analyzed and updated and a decision will be made whether to fold Technology Literacy standards into a single document with computer science (Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards), or to produce two separate documents.

The standards development committee plans to present draft standards to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education about a year from now, in winter 2014-15. Given the significant education initiatives already underway, I would recommend putting the standards out for public comment no earlier than fall 2015, and would ask the Board to vote on adopting the standards no earlier than spring 2016.

Comments from the Secretary

Secretary Malone will be at the Ways & Means Committee hearing on the FY2015 state education budget. The Secretary's designee, EOE General Counsel Jim DiTullio, will join us at the Board meeting.

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Proposed Amendments to Regulations on Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval (603 CMR 7) and Educator License Renewal (603 CMR 44): Requirements for Teachers of Deaf/Hard of Hearing Students - Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    I am presenting to the Board this month proposed amendments to the Regulations on Educator Licensure and the Regulations on Educator License Renewal, for initial discussion and a vote to solicit public comment. The proposed amendments address the educator license for Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, relating to preparation for the teaching of reading and also the requirements for American Sign Language proficiency. With the Board's approval, we will solicit public comment on the proposed revisions to the regulations and bring them to the Board for a final vote in May 2014. Associate Commissioner Heather Peske; Brian Devine, Administrator for Educator Licensure; Marty Mittnacht, State Director of Special Education; and Attorney Dianne Curran of our legal staff will be at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

  2. Update on Level 5 Schools - Discussion

    The memo under Tab 2 provides an overview of our current work with the four Level 5 schools: Dever Elementary School and Holland Elementary School in Boston; Morgan Full Service Community School in Holyoke; and the John Avery Parker Elementary School in New Bedford. I will update the Board further at our February 25 meeting.

  3. Update on PARCC - Discussion

    On February 10, 2014, the Department released a list of the public schools where students in grades 3-11 will participate in this spring's PARCC field test. Beginning in March, approximately 81,000 students - or about 8 percent of the state's total public school enrollment - will take a PARCC field test in English language arts or mathematics. At the Board meeting on February 25, I will provide a further update on PARCC. Senior Associate Commissioner Bob Bickerton will join us to present on the technology-enhanced test items that are available online.

  4. Virtual Schools: Recommendation for New Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual School

    The state law on virtual schools, enacted in 2012, authorizes the Board to grant up to three certificates to operate Commonwealth virtual schools for the 2013-2016 school years. In November 2013, we received a single application for a new Commonwealth of Massachusetts virtual school, submitted by The Education Cooperative (TEC). The materials under Tab 4 provide details about the application and the review process. I recommend that the Board vote this month to grant a certificate to the board of trustees of the TEC Connections Academy Commonwealth Virtual School (TECCA), with a number of conditions related to areas where improvement is needed.

  5. Charter Schools: Recommendation for Two New Commonwealth Charter Schools - Discussion and Vote

    By statute, the Board votes on the approval of new charter schools at its February meeting. The Department received 10 prospectuses for Commonwealth charter schools in August 2013. Based upon the review of these prospectuses by the Department's staff and external reviewers, I invited six applicant groups to submit final applications. All six were filed by the deadline. I recommend that the Board grant two charters for Commonwealth charter schools: Argosy Collegiate Charter School and Springfield Preparatory Charter School. The memo under Tab 5 summarizes the charter application review process and my recommendations with respect to the charter applications.

  6. Major Amendment for Atlantis Charter School - Discussion and Vote

    Pursuant to the Charter School Regulations, the Board must approve major changes in the material terms of a school's charter. Atlantis Charter School, which serves students in grades K-8 in Fall River, requests approval for a charter amendment to increase its maximum enrollment by 583 students, from 795 to 1378. The school's request is described in the memo under Tab 6. I recommend that the Board approve the amendment to the school's charter.

  7. Amendment Request for Consolidation and Conditions on Charters of Match Charter Public School and Match Community Day Charter Public School - Discussion and Vote

    At your January 2014 meeting, the Board approved the request of the board of trustees of Excel Academy Charter School, Excel Academy Charter School-Chelsea, and Excel Academy Charter School-Boston II (collectively "the Excel charter schools") to consolidate under a single charter. This month, I am recommending that the Board grant a similar consolidation request from the board of trustees of the Match Charter Public School and Match Community Day Charter Public School (collectively "the Match charter schools"). I also recommend that the Board impose conditions to clarify the relationships between the charter schools and their associated private entities. The details of the request and recommendation are presented in the materials under Tab 7.

  8. Charter Renewal with Probation and Charter Amendment Request: Dorchester Collegiate Academy Charter School - Discussion and Vote

    I recommend that the Board vote to place the Dorchester Collegiate Academy Charter School on probation, renew the school's charter with conditions, and approve the school's request to amend its charter to remain a grade 4-8 school and to not expand to grades 9-12, as originally requested in its charter. The memo and materials under Tab 8 provide information about the school and details of my recommendations.

  9. Proposed Delegation of Authority to Commissioner to Approve Management Contract for Roxbury Preparatory Charter School - Discussion and Vote

    The board of trustees of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School (RPCS) would like to update and amend its management contract with Uncommon Schools, a management organization based in New York that operates a portfolio of 38 schools in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

    Under the charter school statute, the Board must approve contracts between charter schools and the entities from which they intend to procure substantially all educational services. RPCS will submit the amended contract to the Department in March 2014. The school does not expect to make significant changes from the terms of the current contract. The Department will review the technical and legal aspects of the proposed contract. I recommend that the Board vote to authorize me to approve the contract pending satisfactory completion of our review.

Other Items for Information

  1. 10th Annual AP Report to the Nation

    Enclosed is the College Board's Annual Report on Advanced Placement (AP) exam results in Massachusetts. Results showed that more Massachusetts public high school students are taking and succeeding on rigorous AP exams. According to results from the College Board, 27.9 percent of Massachusetts public high school graduates in last year's class of 2013 scored a 3 or higher on at least one AP exam during high school, up from 25.5 percent two years ago and 16.8 percent a decade ago. A score of 3 or higher on an AP exam is predictive of college success and college graduation.

  2. ACT-STEM Report on Massachusetts Students

    Enclosed is a report from ACT on The Condition of STEM in Massachusetts.

  3. Education-Related News Clippings

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

  4. Report on Grants Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 13 is a report on grants I have approved 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 February 24 and 25.