Thursday, December 1, 2016

What happened with ESSA this week?

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Education issued regulations on the Every Student Succeeds Act around school accountability. The Department's summary is here; EdWeek does their summary here.\
First, do note that regulations are under the purview of the administration, so it's completely unclear what happens when the Trump administration comes in at the end of January.
That said, we do have regulations, so, a few pieces of note:
  • states now don't have to ID schools for "comprehensive support" until the 2018-19 year, which is a year later than was originally proposed.
  • the summative evaluation versus how schools are identified for support has been fleshed out a bit (if that interests you, I'd read the US Ed summary)
  • the "at least one additional indicator" now has to have "a positive impact on student learning," which is more flexible than the draft language (and, should we all push, could give states much much more to consider) 
  • states can set their own maximum subgroup size, but if it's bigger than 30, they must justify why it is good for kids that it is that big.
  • "consistent underperformance" was original over a two year period, now is tweaked a bit to allow for more time if it can be justified
  • 95% participation on testing is still required, but if states decide to come up with their own systems of dealing with that, they can have different remedies for different rates of participation (those that barely missed possibly having something less draconian).
  • ELL's are to become proficient in English on a "research-based" timeline.
Also a reminder that there are TWO MORE DESE input sessions on ESSA implementation: tonight at Holyoke High and Tuesday night at Collins Middle in Salem, both at 6 pm. (Sorry for the lack of coverage on these; I have had, and still have, meetings opposite every single one.) 


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Suburban Coalition talks about the Foundation Budget Review Coalition

Speaking tonight is
Glenn Koocher, MASC Executive Director
Rep. Alice Peisch, Wellesley and Chair of the Joint Committee on Education
Nathanael Shea, chief of staff for Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (the Senate Chair)
Sen. Karen Spilka, Ashland and Chair of Senate Ways and Means

posting as we go
Dorothy Presser, Lynnfield, recognizes over 150 committees and councils passed a call for the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission to be implemented

November Board of Ed in sum

Good news all: the Board of Ed had a livestream this time!
The bad news is they're doing it through a website that requires a log-in, and on a site that doesn't keep the video.
sigh...
This isn't new technology; there are good ways to do this. Let's try harder, please!

The Board of Ed opened with comments from the Chair and the Commissioner. There then was a significant public comment period, largely of parents and community members from the Mattahunt School in Boston, which the Boston School Committee voted earlier this month to close next year in response due to the Commissioner's letter of "concern," presaging a declaration of Level 5/state takeover status. I think it only fair to note that the Mattapan community is largely a community of color, and there were multiple notes of the closings of rounds of schools in communities of color in Boston (as has been true across the country). The district plans to reopen the school as an early childhood center. The testimony was eloquent in the concern over the loss of a neighborhood resource and a space of learning and "home" for children, many of whom have faced significant trauma in their lives already.

The Board voted to send the revised ELA and math standards out for public comment. As yet, how to do that is not posted; I will share once it is.
Likewise, after an extensive discussion, the Board voted to send the revised educator evaluation regulations out of public comment. Note that this would also change the evaluation of administrators, also moving a student impact section into one of the existing standards (standard I for administrators). There is some significant disagreement among the Board members about the evaluation system as it stands, the role of student testing within it, and the relative importance of this. Most are deferring to Roland Fryer regarding the research on this.

The Board then discussed the two schools "of concern," beginning with Commerce High School in Springfield. The Springfield Empowerment Zone voted to add Commerce in October. As MassLive notes in the above linked article,"Schools in the zone are independently governed," and thus are not under the governing of the School Committee. This satisfied the Commissioner, who thus did not recommend that Commerce be declared level 5.

The discussion of the Mattahunt largely centered around the amount of control the Board had at this point, with several comments (including two from the Commissioner) that they didn't want to "second guess the school committee." Two things that were news: the Boston Public Schools administration had internally discussed closing the Mattahunt last summer (it had seemed that this had only been motivated by this latest state action); the proposals put forward by the community to the Boston Public Schools administration were not shared with the Commissioner (to gauge reaction) prior to the vote of the Boston School Committee. The initial discussion concluded with no action taken by the Board; a later comment by member Doherty that he was not satisfied with this led to the Commissioner's agreeing to Chair Sagan's proposal that he would speak with Superintendent Chang of Boston, informing him that the Board had heard impassioned testimony, were pained that the School Committee felt they had no other options than to close the school, and "remain open to what the district has to offer."

The Board briefly discussed their recommendation to the Secretary to inform the Governor's FY18 budget. While they may have discussed the foundation budget review commission in their budget subcommittee, it is mentioned nowhere in their recommendation. Do note, however, their recommendation of a new account for "reform/targeted assistance initiatives...leveraged to improve student learning."

The Board voted to send out for public comment proposed changes in the recovery high school regulations. They approved both amendments to charter schools (adding West Boylston to Parker Essential's region and adding 400 seats to Foxborough Charter).

The Board heard an update on standards setting on MCAS 2.0.
They also had a brief presentation on school discipline data from last year.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Student discipline data: Board of Ed

slight uptick from last year
non-drug non-violent non-criminal is 52.3% of discipline types
highest proportion grades 7-12
1% in K, up to 3% in 4
grade 9 has highest with 16.8% of suspensions
7.9% of students in Commissioner's districts were suspended; 8.7% of charter schools; 7.6% of regional vo-tech; and 4.3% of students in all schools
cross district conversations between and among districts with higher rates
next: template for an action plan; due in two parts: winter for steps this year, this summer for outcomes plus plans for upcoming year
presentation to Commissioner around next steps
districts that were identified in June to participate in professional learning network; one phone call and one gathering
all had to submit a plan
discussion of big picture: what is impacting students on not getting into classrooms (includes absenteeism)
Chester cites district that was using suspension the most on kids who skipped class
Peyser: do we track services provided to those on out-of-school suspensions or expulsions?
Yes, broad categories
Stewart would like to see other resources considered by other districts; mindfulness work
Morton: illegal substances, other services needed for those students
likewise sexual assault
what kinds of services are being provided to those students?

MCAS 2.0 standard setting

backup is here
download description here
Wulfson "staff has been creating a great deal of guidance"
"much of the effort over the past...has been around mode choice selection"
(that's who is using computers)
96-97% responded: test as much as possible in 4 and 8 on computers; low 90's
free choice on remaining; about 40% testing online
Stewart: what some of the priorities have been in developing the test?
Wulfson: around standards
tradeoffs on lengths of test and number of categories reported
testing time issue: minimize time while still making sure results are valid
"would have preferred to have an additional year...very aggressive timetable"
"will be a year or two as we fine tune the test"
discussions of the high school test; options for high school testing
next month, plus continuation in January with Board of Higher Ed
MCAS-Alt: as required by ESSA limits to having no more than 1% of students taking that version of test
"will create some logistical issues"
that decision is made by each individual IEP team
terminology when used to report results
circulating through the field and come back to Board in February for further discussion and a decision
Proposal is:
  • exceeding expectations
  • meeting expectations
  • partially meeting expectations
  • not yet meeting expectations
Intended for audience of parents and students; wanted to signal that there's additional work that needs to be done, additional supports to be provided by the school
Peyser: "partially meeting" and "not yet meeting" seems like it could be the same thing
Noyce: discussion around need for a big wakeup call versus need to be encouraging
Wulfson positive, but wanting to give a wake up call as needed


Amendments to charter schools

backup here
amendment to include West Boylston to Parker Essential
approved
Foxborough Charter to add 400 students
Chester "we've watched them be increasingly committed to their changing demographics...I think they deserve this"
several superintendents opposing it
Sagan: smaller districts that aren't sending many?
three that are a handful, North Attleboro sends 100
motion carries (Stewart opposed)

Proposed changes to recovery high school regs

back up is here