Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Board of Ed: accountability for the coming year

in essence, this is adding another year: it will be based on three years rather than two
the backup is here

beginning discussion of a change in system for 2020
Curtin: process for revision
two part process with regard to this: regulation which outlines general framework
plus a systems document with more technical information
possibility each year of revising regulation (which requires regulatory amendment process) OR changing the systems document (which does not)
this is the third year of the system
recommendation is to make minimal changes to the system: incorporate a third year of data
(so it will simply add 2020, without dropping earlier years)
this year it was 40/60 (prior year, current year)
Recommendation for 2020 is:
20% 2018
30% 2019
50% 2020
will be sent out for public comment March/April
vote in May
West: want to learn more before making bigger changes
question is how much weight to put on each year
with more years "there's less riding on the current year"
"districts can get further behind the eight ball"
Curtin: we've never had a system that had three years of data (we had four when it went)
"interested in what the public comment comes back as"
will be taken to accountability advisory commission in March
will take the comments from public and AAAC
"we have lived by the mantra that the most recent year should count the most"

there's no vote required, but it will be sent out after the meeting, it was said...

Board of Ed: City on a Hill Charter

Peyser: have taken initial steps to get their house in order
"under close observation from the Department"
maximum enrollment in here?
maximum enrollment is different that the mergered enrollment
under consolidation it is less

Board of Ed: regulations on vocational education

Commissioner: first phase of revisions; admission changes "coming out under separate cover"
Public comment has been posted here
Regs as proposed are here

regulation changes pass

Board of Education: reporting under the Student Opportunity Act

emergency regs only in power for three months (only could be effect if adopted under emergency basis)
Vice chair asks "why wouldn't we"
Johnston: no reason to, fits well with other work
Because I am not there, I have no idea who is speaking
Q: Are there low performing districts that are doing the short form?
Johnston: yes, due to size of district
focus of all is improving student performance
Q: if only a limited amount of funding is available due to 'fixed costs,' what do you do?
If they're saying we have contractual obligations and these fixed costs...
Johnston: want to be sure 'what are those evidence based programs that are really impacting students'
clear in communication
"having our support in their messaging to their school committees and their teachers' association" around what is required
Commissioner has ability to send the plan back if we're not seeing enough emphasis on these areas
Q: if plans are rejected, or modification is required, will that be public?
Johnston: we haven't had that conversation

Johnston: this is a new day for DESE
have framed the requirements around four commitments:
you've seen them; I'll add them here later

"don't want this to be a layering on effect"
considering which practices they need to let go of if they are phasing new things in
"or perhaps this is a chance for districts to deepen existing practice"

will still go out to public comment and come back for a vote on May 19

West: public comment may be particularly informed because of the experience of having plans submitted
can we make changes "based on our own learning" not just on public comment?

regulations pass

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education: opening remarks

coming in midstream here: former Boston Latin Academy student now speaking about his experience in the Boston Schools...
mom raised five children on her own, working three jobs
"with the stress of parents" being needed at schools to make things happen "if I don't have the proper advocacy, I'm going to fall behind"
eventually graduated from Boston Day and Evening "it's an amazing school"
teachers texted to see if they were going
"smaller communities with more dedicated support"

Mass Parents United advocating for something to be done about Boston by state
I don't try to keep up with stats cited in oral testimony...
comments that superintendent lack experience needed and that superintendent and mayor don't deserve more trust
"things are getting worse every minute"
mother concerned about chance her son has to reach graduate; not in keeping with his white peers
sacrifice in coming to this country was for a chance at a better life, sacrifice will be worth it if they have a high quality education
"always the same groups are left behind" in debates about the budget
will hold elected officials accountable (the Governor? Because he's the only one who has anything to do with this)
parent says she is speaking on behalf of her community, "suffering due to a broken system"
"we practice together, read together, I get them to school on time every day"
know "we have a crisis"
"their future has been decided for them, and that is just not fair"
students no matter their background or skin color, they deserve a quality education
parent graduated from South Boston High in 1984 (? I think?) says she wasn't prepared for college
"appalled to learn that 25 years later, BPS is still failing our students"
watching and waiting for the state's report
father and grandfather has been in this country for 35 years, most of the time in Mattapan
need to start helping parents "who are working ten hours a day or more to make ends meet"
"it is obvious that we need" more experienced help (?) to help the children of our community
"children should be able to create their own future"
how Boston succeeds should be how children are treated in the Boston Public Schools
"ask for immediate help to help the children of Boston"
another came to Boston about the time of busing, Jamaica Plain High
had to take remedial courses in college
"I felt I was not getting the education I deserved back then"
younger brother did not graduate, his son now 21 did not graduate from Boston schools
"generation after generation" and "the cycle need to stop"
failing the kids, generation after generation
"money's not the problem"

Commissioner: set up an advisory commission on the competency determination
held its first meeting on Feb. 3
had initial discussions about the requirements for high school graduation
will meeting in March and April and then will share recommendations

U.S. Census: less than 50 days away
determines how much funding we get for next ten years
encourage everyone to have everyone participate in Stats in Schools program
contact Commissioner's office if need additional information or concern

Secretary: Census bureau is looking for census takers:
"earn some money and do some good"

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Worcester School Committee meets Thursday

The agenda--which is pretty short?--is online here.
There are some recognitions coming in, which will mean the National Anthem is being sung by Worcester Arts Magnet students.
The Report of the Superintendent--as yet, no backup--is on Project Lead the Way.
There's also a petition coming in to allow teachers to donate sick time to a colleague.
There are a couple of other public petitions, as well.

The item on Burncoat shades has been forwarded to budget consideration.
The item on Black history month was sent to principals.

We're being asked to approve a prior fiscal year payment "to Learnwell dba EI US. LLC 2 in the amount of $540.00 for services rendered previously" which doesn't appear to have a backup.
We're also being asked to approve a prior year payments in the total amount of $425.88 for salary adjustments to two employees.

We're being asked to approve a $13,000 financial literacy grant which appears to be going to professional development.
We're also being asked to approve two STARS artist residency grants of $5000, one for Clark Street and one for Columbus Park.
While we're getting more backup and it's a little clearer what the funding is going for, we're still not getting the account numbers with allocations that have now been requested twice. This matters for grants, of course, because sometimes those grants go away and we have to decide if we're continuing to fund things, and if so, where that money is and is going. We can't do that if we don't know in the first place.

We're being asked to accept the following donations:
- $125 to Lake View Elementary School from fundraising efforts in collaboration with Thebe Enterprises, LLC
- $700 to Woodland Academy from Scholarship America
- $100 to Woodland Academy from the University of Wisconsin Madison
- $100 to the Library Fund at Quinsigamond Elementary School from Spear Management Group in memory of Peter Petrella, Jr., the recently passed father in law of an employee
- $5,000 to the Belmont Street Community School’s reading curriculum from The Journey Community Church

New items that are coming in (beyond recognitions) include:
  • a request from Mr. Monfredo that the administration review the policy on long-term substitutes 
  • a request from Miss Biancheria for review of the recommendations about Roosevelt from the school safety task force
  • a request to the delegation coming in from me that would make it possible for supplemental budget funding for charter reimbursement to go to the district (right now, in municipal districts it does not and cannot after the tax rate has been set; it needs a separate bit of language at the state level to allow this to happen, rather than it getting stuck cityside and eventually ending up in free cash, which is of course not the Legislative intent)
  • a proposal that we offer testimony regarding the low income rate implementation before the Joint Committee on Ways and Means; yes, that's this post
  • and my request that we review the updated graduation and dropout rates; the chart below illustrates part of my concern to be discussed further in Standing Committee
There are also three worker's compensation cases coming into executive session, which starts at 6 pm. 

The Board of Ed meets on Tuesday

...and a lot of it is on regulation changes.
The agenda is online here.
There's the usual round up of public comment and opening comments; by the way, h/t to Chair Katherine Craven for leading with public comment at meetings.

First up is the Student Opportunity Act. You can find much of what they're linking to here; I've downloaded and shared the regs here. Essentially, this is giving a regulatory framework to the plans, which didn't exist (one could argue that if they thought this was needed, they could have done it before now, but...). These are going to be (in whatever form they are passed) 603 CMR 55. The part of the plans is fairly general:
Each district shall develop and submit to the department a plan that identifies the amount of local, state, federal, and grant funds the district is allocating to support specifically identified evidence-based programs to address persistent disparities in achievement among student subgroups.
(1) Plan Development.
(a) The superintendent or his or her designee shall develop the plan.
(i) Community stakeholders, including parents, educators, special education and English learner parent advisory councils, and school improvement councils shall have the opportunity to provide input and recommendations to the superintendent regarding the plan. Districts shall provide appropriate interpretation and translation services to permit meaningful participation by limited English proficient parents.
(b) The district’s school committee shall vote on the plan.
(2) Plan Components. Each district plan shall include:
(a) Funding information: Each district shall state the amount of funds it will use in support of its plan, including chapter 70 and other local, state, federal, and grant funds. Each district shall explain the relationship between the allocation of funds and the educational needs of specific student subgroups, including English learners and low- income students in the district.
(b) Identification of evidence-based programs: Each district shall identify the evidence-based programs, supports or interventions included in M.G.L. c. 69, § 1S (c)(ii) that it will implement to address persistent disparities in achievement among student subgroups. Each district shall describe how it will implement the evidence-based programs, supports or interventions it has chosen. If a district elects not to implement the evidence-based programs identified in M.G.L. c. 69, § 1S (c)(ii)(A)-(I), it shall include an explanation of why these evidence-based programs would not effectively address persistent disparities in achievement in the district, and it shall select other evidence-based programs identified by the commissioner, propose evidence-based programs for the commissioner’s review pursuant to 603 CMR 55.5(2), or both.
(c) Identification of outcome metrics: Each district shall identify and include in its plan at least three outcome metrics. A district may include District Outcome Metrics, Standard Outcome Metrics, or both.
(d) Parent engagement: Each district shall include in its plan a description of how the district will effectuate and measure increased parent engagement, and shall include specific plans to encourage meaningful participation by parents of low-income students, English learners, and students with disabilities.
(3) Plan Submission
The commissioner shall determine the form and manner for submission of plans, and may publish templates, guidance and other resources.
That all seems...fine?
I still think all of this on the reporting that's being required, though.

Next is the proposed passage of the changes in vocational education; these were discussed when they were sent out for public comment back in November. THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE ADMISSION CHANGES. You can find the summary of public comment here. The regulations as proposed are here.
Can I just note here: in following regulation changes, I'm a little surprised (does this make me a cynic?) at how often specific, on topic, individual comments actually do result in changes. Flooding the Department with copy/paste clearly just irritates them, but if you have a specific concern about language, it's worth voicing. 

There also are changes in accountability which don't require changes in regulation, but still require a  Board vote after public comment. The plan is to base accountability on three years of data (so, no, 2018 isn't gone yet):
The Department would like to continue to build on its plan to incorporate multiple years of data in the accountability system by including three years of data (2018, 2019, and 2020) when calculating accountability results this year. Like last year, data from all three years would be weighted in the overall percentile and criterion-referenced calculations, with more weight on data from the most recent year. The weightings that the Department proposes for 2020 reporting are as follows: 20 percent for 2018, 30 percent for 2019, and 50 percent for 2020. These adjustments are included in the attached document, which summarizes key components of the accountability system.
The timeline outlined would have this out for public comment over March and April and back before the Board in May for a vote.
I...don't have an opinion about this?
As you may have seen already, the Commissioner is recommending probation for City on a Hill Charter school:
“Our concerns about the school’s fiscal viability, lack of demand, and poor academic performance warrant placing the school on probation with conditions,” Riley wrote in a memo last Friday to the board. “I am not, however, recommending nonrenewal [of the operating license] at this time because the school has proposed major changes to address these deficiencies, appointed a principal with a track record of academic success, and taken action this year in an effort to yield better results for students and families.”
And that's the agenda! Yes, I'll be there to blog.