The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the June 27, 2017 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
June 16, 2017

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 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. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call Helene Bettencourt at (781) 338-3120.


The business agenda for our regular meeting leads off with a continuing discussion and vote on the early college initiative that we are undertaking jointly with the Board of Higher Education. The Board will hear a report from the Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students and will discuss and vote on amendments to the regulations on educator licensure and license renewal. We will present end-of-year reports on the four Level 5 schools and an update on the FY2018 state education budget. The Committee on the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation will present its report to the Board for discussion and a vote. The Board will vote on a procedural matter affecting three charter schools, the usual summer delegation of authority, and the schedule for our regular meetings in FY2018.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Sagan will report on current issues and activities. This is Nathan Moore's final meeting as the elected student member of the Board for 2016-17. We are grateful for his service and wish him much success in the future. The Board congratulates Hannah Trimarchi, a rising senior at Marblehead High School who has been elected as chair of the State Student Advisory Council and will serve as a member of the Board from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. Hannah will attend the June 27 meeting along with Nathan.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Southbridge Public Schools. On May 31 we notified the Board that Southbridge Public Schools Receiver Jessica Huizenga is on leave, and Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston is temporarily assuming the role of receiver with help from Department staff. Local educators and the Department are continuing to work together to implement the district's turnaround plan. I will update the Board on June 27.

  2. Celebration honoring excellence in teaching. On June 15, the 2018 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, Cara Pekarcik, a science teacher at North Quincy High School in Quincy, was honored in a ceremony at the State House, along with finalists and semifinalists for the award. Also recognized at the event were the 2017 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year and the Massachusetts finalists for the 2016 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The speakers included the 2017 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and 2017 National Teacher of the Year, Sydney Chaffee. Details are in the press release. All of these honorees exemplify the dedication and high quality of so many educators throughout the Commonwealth. I look forward to introducing Ms. Pekarcik and Ms. Chaffee to the Board at a future meeting.

  3. Substance use prevention initiatives. At the May 23 Board meeting, a member asked about the Massachusetts Attorney General's initiatives on substance use prevention. The Department is working with the Attorney General's Office as well as other state agencies, including the Executive Office of Education, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Public Health, to help support school-based substance use prevention education initiatives. Helene Bettencourt, our Chief of Staff, attended the May 31 announcement of Project Here, a partnership that will bring new substance use prevention resources to middle schools starting in the Fall of 2017. We will keep the Board informed about significant new developments.

  4. Data collection on services for gifted and talented students. In response to the Board's request, the Department is collecting information from districts about how they serve students who perform above grade level academically. We devised a short information collection that gathers data on the ways districts serve these students (e.g., subject or grade acceleration, enrichment, or personalized learning), as well as the sources of information they use to identify these students (e.g., assessments of academic knowledge or cognitive skills, course grades, or teacher or parent recommendations). We will provide a summary to the Board after we have received and analyzed the data.

  5. Charter school matters. I have two updates for the Board relating to charter schools:

    • The Board previously received information about the Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School (Silver Hill) in Haverhill. As a Horace Mann charter school, Silver Hill must receive approval from both the Haverhill School Committee and the local teachers' union in order to submit its application for charter renewal. The Haverhill Education Association (HEA) held its vote yesterday (June 15), and according to news reports, voted against approving the renewal application. I will provide a further update at the Board meeting.

    • The Massachusetts Charter Public School Association has appointed Tim Nicolette as its executive director, effective August 7. Mr. Nicolette is currently president of UP Education Network, which has worked on school turnaround in Boston, Lawrence, and Springfield. He served previously as chief of staff to former Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson, as an education advisor to former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, and as deputy chief financial officer for the Boston Public Schools. Mr. Nicolette succeeds Marc Kenen, who led the MCPSA since its founding in 2001.

  6. Upcoming Commonwealth IT changes. Governor Baker has filed legislation to modernize and secure the Commonwealth's information technology (IT) infrastructure and services, elevating MassIT to a Cabinet-level Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS). Led by a Secretary of Technology, EOTSS will centralize IT infrastructure services across the executive departments and review and update policies and procedures governing state cybersecurity, digital platforms, and data management. Individual secretariats will continue to be accountable for managing their own business applications. The EOTSS transition is expected to take two years to complete. Kim Rice, the chief information officer for the Executive Office of Education, will coordinate the transition on behalf of the education agencies.

  7. MCAS standard setting. The Department is continuing our preparations for the standard setting for the next-generation MCAS tests for grades 3-8 English language arts and mathematics, which will take place August 14-18 in Danvers. We received many applications and selected about 145 educators to serve on one of six panels (grades 3-4 ELA, grades 5-6 ELA, grades 7-8 ELA, grades 3-4 mathematics, grades 5-6 mathematics, and grades 7-8 mathematics). The panelists are content experts-primarily classroom teachers but also curriculum coordinators, instructional coaches, specialists, and administrators. They represent schools, districts, and communities of all types from across the Commonwealth. The panels will engage in a series of activities and judgments, with the goal of producing a set of recommendations around the level of performance needed to reach each achievement level on the next-generation MCAS tests.

  8. Opportunity to see the next-generation MCAS tests. At the May Board meeting, some members asked if it would be possible to look at and try the next-generation MCAS tests. The Department has arranged that opportunity on Tuesday afternoon, June 27, here in Malden, immediately following the Board meeting. We will have computers set up with two complete tests: the eighth-grade English language arts test and the sixth-grade mathematics test. Members who do not have other commitments can spend as little or as much time as you wish looking over the tests, trying out the technology features, and answering questions. In accordance with test security protocols, participants will be asked to sign the standard non-disclosure agreement prior to seeing the test items.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Early College Initiative: Report and Recommendation from Early College Joint Committee on Designation Process - Discussion and Vote

    At the June 27 meeting, Chair Sagan, Margaret McKenna, and Secretary Peyser, who serve on the Early College Joint Committee, will present the final version of the proposed Early College Program Designation process and criteria to the Board for discussion and a vote. The Board of Higher Education will have discussed and voted on this on June 20. Senior Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang; Keith Westrich, Associate Commissioner for College, Career, and Technical Education; Nyal Fuentes, College and Career Readiness Coordinator; and Jennifer Gwatkin, Early College Coordinator, will be at the meeting to respond to your questions.

  2. Report from Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students - Discussion

    The Safe Schools Program for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students is an anti-bullying initiative of the Department and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth. On June 27 the Board will have an opportunity to hear about this work from a panel that will include Roger Bourgeois, Greater Lowell Regional Vocational Technical School Superintendent and Commission member, and Jeff Perrotti, Director of the Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students. We have also invited students, parents, and school administrators to join the discussion with the Board.

  3. Educator Licensure and License Renewal: Proposed Amendments to Regulations, 603 CMR 7.00, 13.00, and 44.00 - Discussion and Vote

    In February the Board voted to solicit public comment on proposed changes to the Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval (603 CMR 7.00), Educator License Renewal (603 CMR 44.00), and Certification of Supervisors of Attendance (603 CMR 13.00). The Department has reviewed the comments and revised the proposed amendments as needed. Your materials include a summary of the comments and revisions, and all the comments are available for the Board to review. I recommend that the Board vote on June 27 to adopt the amendments as revised. Department staff will be present at the meeting to answer your questions, including: Senior Associate Commissioner Heather Peske; Liz Losee, Director of Educator Preparation and Assessment; and Associate General Counsels Lucy Wall and Arabela Thomas.

  4. Level 5 Schools: End-of-Year FY2017 Reports - Discussion

    Under Tab 4 are the FY2017 Annual Evaluation Reports from the American Institutes for Research on each of the four Level 5 schools: John P. Holland Elementary School (UP Academy Holland) and Paul A. Dever Elementary School (Dever) in Boston, Morgan Full Service Community School (Morgan) in Holyoke, and John Avery Parker Elementary School (Parker) in New Bedford. Ventura Rodriguez, Director of the Office of Strategic Transformation, will be at the Board meeting on June 27 to answer your questions.

  5. Update on FY2018 State Education Budget - Discussion

    Senior Associate Commissioner/CFO Bill Bell and I will update the Board on the latest information we have on the state budget for FY2018.

  6. Annual Performance Evaluation of the Commissioner: Report from Committee on Commissioner's Performance Evaluation - Discussion and Vote

    Board member Penny Noyce, who chairs the Board's Committee on the Commissioner's Performance Evaluation, will present the committee's report and recommend a motion on the Commissioner's evaluation.

  7. Charter Schools: Waiver of Regulation Requiring a Week's Notice of Enrollment Lottery for Three Charter Schools, Due to Snowstorm - Discussion and Vote

    Three charter schools - Hampden Charter School of Science, Libertas Academy Charter School, and Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School Chelsea - had to change their enrollment lottery date due to a major winter storm on March 14, 2017, and they were unable to provide a full week's notice to the public about the rescheduled date, as required by the charter school regulations. All three schools were able to conduct the lotteries and conclude their principal enrollment processes by the March 15 deadline. Each school has requested that the Board waive the regulation requiring the one-week notice, so as to allow the results of the rescheduled lotteries to stand. I recommend that the Board grant the waivers. Senior Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang and Alison Bagg, Director of Charter Schools and School Redesign, will be at the meeting to answer your questions.

  8. Delegation of Authority to Commissioner to take Necessary Action between Board Meetings - Discussion and Vote

    Because we have a three-month hiatus until the next meeting of the Board, I recommend that you vote to authorize the Commissioner to act on your behalf in approving any matters that are not otherwise covered by the Board's previous delegations of authority and that require Board action before the next regular meeting in September 2017. By the terms of the suggested motion, I will consult with the Board Chair in advance of any such action and report to the Board on any matters that have been so approved.

  9. Schedule for Regular Board Meetings through June 2018 - Vote

    After checking with members, we have prepared a proposed schedule for regular Board meetings through June 2018. With the Board's approval, we will post the schedule on our website.

Other Items for Information

  1. Update on History/Social Science Curriculum Framework Revision Process

    This memorandum updates the Board on the progress of the review of the 2003 Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework. The Department launched the review in July 2016 and plans to present draft standards to the Board early in 2018 for a vote to invite public comment on them. So far the work is proceeding well. The goal is to adopt new standards in 2018 and develop a statewide assessment of those standards by 2020.

  2. State Student Advisory Council End-of-Year Report for 2016-2017

    Board member Nathan Moore summarized the work of the State Student Advisory Council at our May meeting at Scituate High School. He will distribute the SSAC's end-of-year report at our June 28 meeting. We thank Nathan for his service to the students of the Commonwealth and to this Board.

  3. Report on VISTA Statewide Survey of Superintendents and Principals

    For the second year in a row, the Department has sponsored a statewide survey of superintendents and principals called VISTA: Views of Instruction, State Standards, Teaching, and Assessment. Educators were asked to share their views on the implementation of five statewide initiatives: the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks, educator growth and development, educator evaluation, social and emotional learning, and Department supports. Highlights and executive summaries of the reports are enclosed under Tab 12.

  4. Annual Report on Non-Operating School Districts Approved by the Commissioner

    By statute, towns that do not operate their own public schools (generally because the town is small and is not a member of a regional school district) must request and receive approval annually from the Board to tuition their students to public schools in other towns. In June 2009 the Board voted to delegate this approval authority to the commissioner. Enclosed is a memo reporting on the approvals I have granted.

  5. Report on Grants Approved by the Commissioner (if any)

    Enclosed is information on grants that I have approved since the last meeting, under the authority 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 regular meeting in Malden on June 27.