Friday, May 27, 2016

So what did they pass on the foundation budget?

I know I lost a lot of you on Senator Chang-Diaz's amendment 120, which passed on a voice vote last night. Sorry about that! Here's what it means:
First, it means that this goes to conference committee, along with everything else passed by one house of the Legislature but not the other.
Then it would need to survive Governor Baker's veto (either by avoiding it or overriding it).

What's in it?
Every year as part of the budget, the state has to redraft the section of the Mass General Laws that deals with school funding, Chapter 70 (thus the shorthand we use for school funding in Massachusetts). It lays out how health insurance costs are calculated, the inflation rate, the assumption on special ed, how much districts will get for each category of student, and so forth.
Now, this follows a standard layout, and that hasn't been majorly changed since 1993.

What amendment 120 does is plug in the new numbers from the Foundation Budget Review Commission. For example, it makes the health insurance cost the average GIC rate. It adds retiree health insurance costs. It updates the special education assumption. And so forth.
It's intended to work hand in hand with the other piece that the Senate passed, which would make the implementation of the foundation budget part of the annual conversation both houses have with the Governor, laying out what the projections for revenue will be. Those would, if the Senate language carries, also include the gradual implementation of the recommendations of the FBRC.
The redrafted version that was passed last night implements this July 2017, which is the beginning of next year's fiscal year.
Just in time for the FY18 budget.

Update on teacher evaluation

At the Monday "special" meeting of the Board of Ed, the Board heard about teacher evaluation. Mary Ann Stewart, parent member of the Board, wrote of the meeting here.
Thanks, Mary Ann! 

The Senate passed Amendment 196 on District Determined Measures

...what does that mean?
The first thing is that this, along with anything else passed by only one of the two bodies, goes to conference committee. Assuming it comes out of conference committee and survives Governor Baker's veto (either by not being vetoed or by the Legislature overriding his veto), it would then become part of the law.

The meat of what the Senate passed is as follows:
‘Notwithstanding any other provision of the general or special laws, the board shall not mandate any school district to include as part of an educator evaluation system or as a teacher performance standard the use of student performance data that is intended to measure an individual educator’s impact on student learning, growth, or achievement'
...which would forbid the state to require districts to use student performance as part of teacher evaluation. Districts could still do so (subject to collective bargaining), but the state could not require it.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Senate budget deliberation, day three UPDATED at 3 PM

If you aren't watching the #SenBudget wall, fun and often informative

We're entering Senate budget deliberation day three with a few things educational outstanding:

  • amendment 120, covering the foundation budget review commission update to M.G.L. Chapter 70, has not yet been voted
  • amendment 190 for innovation schools remains outstanding
  • amendment 196, eliminating the required use of district-determined measures in teacher evaluation, has yet to be voted on
  • amendment 206, bringing the kindergarten grant to level-funded at $18.5M, has not yet been voted (and Worcester? That's $750,000 in the FY17 the School Committee considers next week that IS NOT IN the Senate budget!) 
They've just opened budget deliberation for the day; you can still call your Senators!

3PM update:
  • amendment 120 passes unanimously on a voice vote, having been amended with a July 2017 implementation date
  • amendment 206 is rejected as part of a second bundle of amendments, meaning the kindergarten grant will go to conference committee

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May Board of Ed: TL/DR

Too Long/Didn't Read
as sent out to MASC members earlier today

While only the Commissioner spoke during the opening comment period, there were a few things that I’d call to your attention. The Commissioner mentioned the work around the teacher certification system, calling attention to this article from WBUR this morning (which, as it is based off of Secretary Peyser’s remarks a few weeks ago, heads the state in a very different direction on this). He gave an update on the state’s work on gathering feedback, as they are charged to, around the state’s new plans under the federal ESEA renewal (ESSA). Thus far for most, that largely involves what is discussed here, largely the survey. Finally, he announced that next month he will be announcing a cohort of schools with high suspension rates overall (or rates out of line within their demographics) for a working group to lower those suspension and expulsion rates.

The main presentation was on the Springfield Empowerment Zone. For those not familiar, this is a hybrid of a state receivership situation, involving the state, the school district, the city, and several partners, including charter school providers. Springfield has not been declared Level 5; this focuses specifically on nine middle schools, all of which were Level 4. It was clear from the presentation that Commissioner Chester thinks very positively of this development, and Secretary Peyser was pursuing questions around long-term plans and possible expansion.

The other big topic covered today was an update on the testing. Currently, 70% of districts are taking the PARCC; 30% are taking the MCAS. The state reports minimal issues with the online testing this year (‘though they note that there are many fewer districts doing the testing online this year), and they report no increase in test refusal. Much else was largely a summary from Chair Sagan of yesterday’s assessment subcommittee meeting. At this time, there have been two bids received, one from Measured Progress and one from American Institutes for Research. Deputy Commissioner Wulfson noted that both branches of the legislature level-funded the assessment line item; he remarked that the funding “is not going to be sufficient to do everything we want it to in a high quality way.” There was an exchange regarding the intellectual property question (following the online release of some of the questions and the resulting takedown notices from PARCC); the answer appears to be “it depends,” as some of the information was developed under the federal funding from Race to the Top, while some was developed under contract directly with the states (and what is under whose intellectual property at this time depends). Going forward, this will be part of the state’s contract with PARCC.

There was a presentation of some student survey data from the state student advisory council (which unfortunately did not have the backup available), which is to be developed further.
The Board had a fairly brief update on the state budget (the Senate is deliberating now).
Finally, they announced the dates for next year’s meetings.

As always, errors are mine and questions are welcome! 

I missed an amendment!

This is what I get for trusting the Senate classifications!
Amendment 120 from Senator Chang-Diaz puts numbers on the Foundation Budget Review Commission recommendations! Each year, as part of the budget, the specifics of the chapter 70 calculation need to be spelled out. This amendment subs in the FBRC recommendations for implementation over time (not this year, but it gets in!).
We need this one! Send along your recommendation to your senator ASAP!

Worcester City Council hears the Worcester Public Schools budget

Looks like we have John Monfredo from the School Committee, Mr. Allen, and, on her first day in her new position, Superintendent Binienda
updating as we go..once we we go! Mayor Petty is in.
Petty: any questions?