The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the September 26, 2017 Regular Meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jeff Wulfson, Acting Commissioner
September 15, 2017

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, September 26, 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.


Chair Sagan will join the September 26 meeting via video conference, using the protocol for remote participation that the Board added to the by-laws in May 2017. He will not chair the meeting. Our business agenda leads off with an update from Chair Sagan on the commissioner search, followed by a report from the Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students, deferred from the June 27 meeting. I will report on the status of our ESSA state plan. We will review the spring 2017 next-generation MCAS test administration in grades 3-8 and discuss a plan and proposed timetable for transitioning the high school competency determination standard as we proceed with the next-generation MCAS at the high school level. The Board also will review information on pending legislation and discuss the process and timelines for the FY2019 education budget. No votes will be taken at the September 26 meeting.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Sagan will announce the members of the Board's budget committee for FY2018. Chair Sagan is deferring until October the election of the Board's vice-chair because, while the Board may have the full set of 11 members by September 26, that has not been confirmed as of this writing.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Implementation of 2017 ELA and math standards. The Department, through our Center for Instructional Support, is continuing to support educators and schools in implementing the 2017 English Language Arts (ELA) & Literacy. The Board approved the revised ELA/Literacy Download PDF Document and Mathematics Download PDF Document frameworks in March, the Department copyedited and formatted them, and we published the frameworks in June along with summaries for each framework highlighting important changes to the standards. The first Quick Reference Guides (QRGs) - two-page resources on specific instructional topics in the frameworks - have been distributed and posted on our website, with more to follow. In August, the Department launched a set of year-long instructional support networks, encouraging districts to embed these opportunities strategically within their local professional learning plans. Other newly available materials include:

    • Updates to our popular What to Look For observation guides, now aligned with the new curriculum frameworks and connected more closely to the standards of effective practice that undergird our educator evaluation framework.
    • Updates to our Writing Standards in Action materials, student work samples now linked directly to specific standards in the 2017 ELA/Literacy Framework.
    • Annotated slides describing the 2017 framework revisions and the resources available from the Department to support their implementation, for school and district leaders to use with their school communities.
  2. Launching the High Quality College and Career Pathways initiative. The High Quality College and Career Pathways (HQCCP) initiative is the outgrowth of complementary bodies of work that began several years ago under the leadership of the Massachusetts Workforce Skills Cabinet (WSC) to increase student access to college and careers. Two new types of HQCCPs are being developed: Early College programs, which will be overseen by the Early College Joint Committee (on which Chair Sagan and Margaret McKenna represent our Board), and Innovation Pathways, which will be overseen by our Department with support from the WSC. Both are grounded in the five guiding principles defined in the Massachusetts Early College Designation - Preliminary Outline of Key Elements: equitable access, guided academic pathways, enhanced student support, connection to career, and effective partnerships. Our traditional Career Vocational Technical Education (CVTE) programs are the third type of HQCCP already available in the state.

    This summer the Commonwealth launched a two-step process for districts and colleges to obtain formal designation for the two new types of pathways. Applications for Preliminary Designations are due by September 27; those applicants that qualify may apply for the Final Designation by February 2, 2018. We are pleased to report significant interest: we received 55 letters of intent for Early College programs and 23 for Innovation Pathways by the September 8 deadline for letters of intent.

    While receipt of a designation through this process is not coupled with any additional funding, there is an accompanying competitive grant process to fund a small number of pilot sites to support planning and implementation. The WSC is exploring ways to build a sustainable funding mechanism for designated programs in the future. More information about the Early College and Innovation Career Pathways is on the HQCCP web page.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Update on Commissioner Search - Discussion

    Chair Sagan will update the Board on the commissioner search and anticipated next steps in the process.

  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. A presentation on this work was on the agenda for the Board's June 27 meeting but we had to postpone it and cut the meeting short because we had just heard the tragic news about Commissioner Chester. On September 26, a panel including Senior Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang and Associate Commissioner Rachelle Engler Bennett will introduce the panel. The panel will include Roger Bourgeois, Commission member and former Greater Lowell Regional Vocational Technical School Superintendent, and Jeff Perrotti, Director of the Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students who will present their report to the Board and engage in discussion with you.

  3. Every Student Succeeds Act: Update on Status of State Plan - Discussion

    Associate Commissioner Rob Curtin and I will update the Board on the status of the state plan we have submitted to the U.S. Department of Education under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

  4. Student Assessment:

    1. Update on Next-Generation MCAS - Discussion

      In November 2015, the Board voted to develop a next-generation MCAS testing program. The first computer-based, next-generation MCAS tests were given to students in grades 3-8 in spring 2017. This month, we will update the Board on the next-generation MCAS. Associate Commissioner Michol Stapel and Chief MCAS Analyst Bob Lee will join us for the discussion.

    2. Planning for High School Competency Determination Standard - Discussion

      Over the next few years, the high school tests in English Language Arts (ELA), mathematics, and science and technology/engineering will also become next-generation MCAS tests. Students earn the competency determination and become eligible for high school graduation based on meeting the state standard on the high school MCAS tests. Consequently, as we transition to next-generation MCAS tests at the high school level, we need to provide adequate notice to students and schools about any significant changes, to ensure fairness and provide opportunity to prepare.

      At the September 26 meeting, I will present initial information about our proposed recommendations for a measured and reasonable transition plan for the competency determination for English Language Arts and Mathematics, which would also apply to the high school science tests when those tests transition to next-generation assessments. Lucy Wall of our legal staff will join Michol Stapel, Bob Lee, and Director of Test Development Katie Bowler for this topic.

  5. Summary of Legislative Process and Significant Pending Bills - Discussion

    In the current session, the Massachusetts legislature is considering several bills on topics of interest to the Board, including civics, school breakfast, English learner instruction, assessments and accountability, and turnaround work. The memo in your materials provides information on these bills and on the legislative process. Jessica Leitz, our Director of External Partnerships, will be at the Board meeting on September 26 to respond to your questions.

  6. FY2018 Budget Overview; Process and Timelines for FY2019 Budget - Discussion

    Now that we have the FY2018 state budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1, we are simultaneously dealing with some fiscal challenges and also starting to plan for the FY2019 budget. At this month's meeting, Senior Associate Commissioner/CFO Bill Bell will review the Department's budget picture. In October, with assistance from the Board's Budget Committee, we will discuss possible budget priorities and program initiatives that the Board may wish to propose. The Board will vote on its FY2019 budget priorities at the November meeting.

Other Items for Information

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

    Enclosed is information on grants and charter school matters that I have approved since the last meeting, under the authority the Board has delegated to the Commissioner.

  2. Charter Authorizing Overview and Anticipated Schedule for 2017-2018

    Each year the Board is asked to take a significant number of votes related to its statutory role as charter school authorizer. As in previous years, I am providing you with a memo summarizing the statutory framework for charter schools and the Board's responsibilities as the state's sole charter school authorizer, along with other related updates and a tentative schedule of charter school authorizing agenda items for 2017-2018.

  3. Summary of Data on School District Programs for Gifted and Talented Students

    In response to the Board's request, the Department collected information from districts last spring about how they serve students who perform above grade level academically. We devised a short information collection to gather data on various approaches that districts take (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). A summary report is enclosed for your information.

  4. Summary of June 2017 Changes to Regulations on Educator Licensure

    Your materials include a summary of major changes to the Regulations on Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval that the Board voted to adopt at the June 27, 2017 meeting.

  5. Update on Review of History and Social Science Curriculum Framework

    The memorandum in your materials updates the Board on our progress in reviewing the 2003 Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework since the last update in June. The Department launched the review in July 2016 with the goal of completing the process in June 2018, and developing a statewide assessment of the learning standards contained in the framework by June 2020.

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the regular meeting in Malden on September 26.