Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE)

Briefing for the November 19, 2019 Regular Meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner
Date:November 8, 2019

The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) will be on Tuesday, November 19, 2019, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's (Department) offices at 75 Pleasant Street in Malden. The meeting will start at 9:00 a.m. (coffee will be available at 8:30 a.m.) and should adjourn by 1:30 p.m. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call Helene Bettencourt at (781) 338-3120.


Our business agenda leads off with a presentation on the Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning. The Board's Budget Committee will present its report and recommendations, and the Board will vote on its FY2021 education budget proposal. We will have an initial discussion on proposed amendments to the Vocational Technical Education regulations. I recommend that the Board vote to send out the proposed amendments for public comment.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Craven will brief the Board on current issues and activities.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. NAEP results for Massachusetts. On October 30, the National Center for Education Statistics released the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, and for the eighth consecutive time, Massachusetts fourth and eighth graders scored first or statistically tied for first on the reading and math NAEP tests. Although Massachusetts remains the highest performing state in the country, this year's results point to areas with room for improvement and opportunities to close achievement gaps between groups of students. It is my hope that our emphasis on innovative, engaging instruction, coupled with more support for our poorest districts, will address the plateaus in Massachusetts's results.

  2. Building support for Deeper Learning initiative. On November 6, Secretary Peyser and I participated in a meeting on Deeper Learning with local foundations and philanthropists, as part of our ongoing efforts to secure additional resources and partners to support this important initiative. I will update the Board periodically on our fundraising.

  3. Boston Public Schools district review. The district review of Boston Public Schools is proceeding well. During October, the team visited about 100 schools and observed about 900 classrooms. The onsite portion of the review includes interviews with city officials, district personnel, school administrators, union representatives, teachers, students, parents, and other interested parties. Additionally, we have asked EY-Parthenon to compile some information to provide historical perspective and context. We expect to publish the written report on the Boston district review early in 2020.

  4. School finance legislation. The six-member legislative conference committee is working to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the school finance bill. I will inform the Board of any significant developments.

  5. Gifted and talented students. Following a recent legislative report on the state of gifted and talented education in Massachusetts, the Department will be reinstating the Gifted and Talented Education Advisory Council in the coming months. The council will be charged with reviewing the legislative report's recommendations, a literature review on acceleration models, and local and national programming to inform the Department's role in supporting schools and districts in this area. Applications for serving on the council will be released in December and the council is expected to meet in late January.

Comments from the Secretary

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

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning: Overview and Next Steps — Discussion

    In the months since I presented "Our Way Forward Download Word Document" to you in June, we have taken several concrete steps toward making deeper learning a reality for more of our students. At this month's meeting, you will hear about the Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning pilot program, which will give schools and districts the opportunity to rethink classroom instruction around deeper learning, and you will meet the two new members of our team who will lead this work: Senior Associate Commissioner Komal Bhasin and Associate Commissioner Tera Carr.

  2. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education FY2021 Budget Proposal and Report from the Board's Budget Committee — Discussion and Vote

    The Board's Budget Committee, chaired by Matt Hills, will present its report at our November 19 meeting. Based on the committee's recommended priorities, the Board will discuss and vote on its FY2021 education budget proposal. Consistent with Mass. General Laws c. 69, § 1A, I will transmit the Board's recommendations to the Secretary of Education, who "shall then prepare and submit a budget request on behalf of the department to the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on education, and the secretary of administration and finance."

  3. Proposed Amendments to Vocational Technical Education Regulations, 603 CMR 4.00 — Initial Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    Massachusetts has a strong vocational technical education (VTE) sector as well as significant demand from students for access to more high-quality VTE programs. To support and promote the expansion of high-quality VTE, I am proposing amendments to the Board's VTE regulations, 603 CMR 4.00, in two phases. This month I am presenting the first set of amendments for initial discussion and a vote to solicit public comment. They are designed to: (1) support the creation of new VTE programs and expand access to the full range of programs for students; (2) strengthen program quality; and (3) streamline the vocational educator licensure process and create additional pathways to licensure. With the Board's approval on November 19, the Department will solicit comment on the proposed amendments and incorporate feedback, with the goal of bringing them back to the Board for a final vote in February 2020. The materials under Tab 3 provide detailed information. Senior Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang and other staff members will be at the meeting to respond to your questions.

Other Items for Information

  1. Report on Grants Approved by the Commissioner

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

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the meeting in Malden on November 19.

Last Updated: November 12, 2019

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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