Friday, October 16, 2015

Foundation Budget Review Commission meeting

The Foundation Budget Review Commission meets at 2.
updating as we go
They're starting with a presentation by David Bunker, which I've posted here. 
Bunker: asked me to focus on ELL and low income increments
theory of action was we want to make sure a lot of schools and districts are receiving sufficient funding to accomplish what they're trying to do
moving quickly through how other states do it; "we're within the ballpark"
"success could be defined as MCAS scores, as growth in MCAS scores, or turnaround schools"
a way to get some testimony and cost that out
top two things I heard were extended time "not just considered learning time, common planning time, professsional development"
second thing "incredible growth in the need in social and emotional attention"
"That was the striking thing to me, was it was almost the first thing out of everybody's mouth"
early ed, full day kindergarten, a desire for more preschool, professional development
"class size, but considered a " particular way
entering high school, high level of need and not much education behind them
"given that not every district does every single one of them...when there's been success in a school, they've done several"
when you look at where you are "a flat rate largely driven by class size assumption"
"how do you address poverty when it's concentrated poverty"
"how do you process this many ELL students"
for ELL, "we were not wildly not outside of national bounderies"
need to address the high school rate, and not added at all to the vocational rate
"both of these were addressed with DESE"
"when we say that we're progressive, we get more to the highest poverty quartile than the lowest poverty quartile"
"did not give a specific number" as they're still looking at the change to low income from F/R lunch
citing Worcester, turnaround was "about $2000" per student
"as we start to talk about...needs...might need to be flexible" as district needs vary

Q from MTA: weighted ELL add on took the difference (I think he said to secondary?)...wouldn't that be sufficient? (separate increment)
most of those things we're thinking of as being carried of by the low income increment
'though those decisions will be left to Legislature
current estimate is $25M
"rooted in the middle school"
Chang-Diaz combining the data points, "it's not out of step with the national level...and bring everyone up to the high water mark"
"we don't know that it's the magic number"
"hard to find conclusive ELP data about what's right"
Peisch: very high percentage of ELL students are also low income
would also be benefiting from low income addition
"will vary dramatically" depending on numbers

Jehlen: idea of recognizing different concentrations of poverty
listing two of them are ELT and wraparound services is $2600 per pupil
even if you said all your kids were low income, it'd be significantly more than that
2001 report for MA said the low income increment should be "at least 50%"
NY thought the low income increment should be 100%
questioning if they're adequate at the lower level
cites Bruce Baker most disadvantaged communities are smaller communities like Everett
"the ideas are know what's going to happen" (it will shrink)
"I would like us to say what we think we need, and leave it our different role" to shrink it

Q MASC: is there a factual basis for quartiles?
Bunker: $1500 is just an example
"kind of differing that decision to whenever the Legislature will take it up"
Jehlen "whatever you say will be the upper limit"
Bunker "not a lot of evidence out there about what the middle quartile should be"
Chang-Diaz: Worcester spent $2000 for turnaround; where would they be in quartile?
Bunker: lowest
highest is 9%; lowest rate starts at where the highest low income rate is right now
MBAE: anything from schools that have shown the most improvement and seen what they did, "like Lawrence"
"there might be different evidence"
all used different
"we'd like to see dollars attached to outputs not inputs"
Bunker: focused on specifically "what are you doing in the places you had the most success"
Verdolino: anything on where the money came from?
Bunker: varied by district, one of the challenges of all of this
"very often grants, Race to the Top, turnaround"
Race to the Top "didn't prove" very useful (for information)
certainly ELT grant funded...worked into collective bargaining costs
Verdolino: best practice is sustainable funding, that you can count on
joke that you get a Level 3 to a Level 2 by letting a Level 3 become a Level 4 and then you get the grant
Moscovitch: like the idea of an ELL increment
Lawrence has very high 4th grade growth scores and their scores are falling
"we should be careful about that"
other services: is there a sense in which we'd be asking for this money twice
biggest gap is professionals who are not classroom teachers
if they could spend their whole allotment on that, would they be whole?
if we adjust the rest of the foundation budget on that, would they have enough?
since we're already making the adjustment on that,
"creditability question if you wind up asking for it twice"
note: we don't know this; no one has proven this; we don't have the money
small group instruction "need for wraparound services go away"
nooo, you don't
Did you look at if those districts could spend their health insurance and sped gap money on the rest?
Moscovitch: if they don't know their allotment, then they can't answer the question
Bunker: Oh, they know what their allotment is
"I know we used to say that only ten people understood the foundation budget, but that's no longer the case"
MASS: social emotional has exploded in our state
Chang-Diaz "what do smart people tell us it costs to educate a low income student versus otherwise"
last commission said 50%
"it may correct and we're not spending it that way, but I saw a lot of data points pointing that even if we spent it as proscribed," we wouldn't be there
Moscovitch: "you'd be doubling or even tripling the amount alloted"
Peisch: "I think the response that I'm hearing is that" it's still too low
"particularly given the need in mental health services"
Moscovitch: "if there are schools where it is happening" (cites Revere) with high test scores even though they don't have enough wraparound services
MBAE: should make a recommendation that mental health and other departments "to make sure that they can provide the services at schools"
"taking on a responsibility that they don't think they should have to provide services that they aren't trained to perform"
MASS: social emotional is different than mental health
"have social workers with every one of our schools, we could certainly use more social workers"
"partner with outside providers" for some children
MBAE: "then it isn't coming out of your budget"
MASS; if they don't have Social Security numbers, it does
"it's complex"
Ferguson "it's a very complex area" some small schools are contracting with outside providers
some of the kids in my area may go to counseling or an outside provider
whole child not impacted, needs smooth back and forth
MASS: also connected to in-district special ed

Peisch: met with Bunker
General consensus around these recommendations for special ed and low income


  1. ELL: convert the ELL increase from a base rate to an increment on the base rate; apply the increment to vocational ELL students as well; equalize the increment for each segment including high school to the current middle school increment of 34%
  2. Low income: increase the increment for districts with high concentrations of low income students; ensure that any new definitions of economically disadvantaged properly count all high needs students
  3. leave the exact calculation of each increment to legislative action, based on further review of data and debate, but with guidance from the Commission that national literature recommends a low-income weighting of 40-100% and that practices in model districts in the Commonwealth suggest that multiple concurrent internventions are necessary to effectively close the achievement gap.
  4. establish a better data collection and reporting system that allows for greater access to school-level expenditures and data, and tracks funding allocated for ELL and low income students to esnure that spending is targeted to the intended populations.
  5. require each district to post a plan online about how it will use the extra funds calculated in the ELL and low income allotments and what outcome metrics they will use to measure the success of the programs so funded. The plan will be public but not subject to approval by DESE.
some concern about calculation about low income
Moscovitch having  trouble about tying funds specifically to low income and ELL students
Peisch "don't want to tie the districts' hands" in how they deal with it
Moscovitch want to ensure it's going to learning
Chang-Diaz: mandate here is to do well what we have not yet figured out how to do well
average levels of achievement are fantastic; what do we need to do to close the achievement gap
a lot of what we heard was ELT and social emotional
"we want to allow districts to have flexibility"
"we think it's best to leave it at the district school level with a strong accountability structure"
"a place where people are looking at what is your plan and did it work"
MASS: this is above and beyond phase I recommendations
this does refer to the things that were in the limits of the spending; it "can encompass"
Chester: I've been someone who's advocated for some way of ensuring funds are spent on ELL and low income students
advocate for doing a better job of tracking and reporting where schools and students are spending their money to the school level
figures on where money is being spent in Holyoke compared to other Commissioners district
"some degree of skeptism..not confident people are coding dollars correctly"
endorse spirit of this
MBAE: didn't read data collection as limiting how the funds could be allocated
"I think that the idea is asssessing the productivity of investments and make sure it gets to the points its intended for"
"not going to use the word accountability...effectiveness and efficiency" were words used
should be an addition that the results should be online; be sure the results were met, improving
"case made the funds are being used as effectively as possible"
Peisch: the more that I have looked into these issues the more I've been made aware "there's no silver bullet"
"theres no one thing that's going to work for every kid in every school in every district"
think I started out thinking that we had to be sure that every dollar went to where it was allocated by the foundation budget
have come to see that some things may work in 70-80% of districts but may not work everywhere
but should see where it goes
Moscovitch: foundation budget reads proscriptive, but "of course the superintendent would have the flexiblity to do it within that total"
just going to point out there that it'd be the School Committee that passes the budget...
"small disagreement...there are some areas that if you don't spend it, it's very difficult to succeed"
"really hard to change teaching in schools that don't have instructional coaches"
MTA: are we putting plan online because it should be or to sell this package
Chang-Diaz: both
plans online so it's more focused for academics, others, beyond local stakeholders, so can see in comparison with one another
Moscovitch: some way of "nudging school committees to focus on improving pedagogy and improving things for low income kids"
Chester: "feeling ornery...going to stir it up"
assumption on low income and ELL are well-intentioned
when it comes to expenditures "biggest driver is salaries"
convinced that spending same amount for different schools (with different needs)
MASC: mechanism for this: it's the school improvement plan
don't need to create a whole new mechanism
not approved by School Committee; which is a problem
would have to be beefed up some more, but it exists
put them online and link to them
MBAE: would need to beef up, certainly
MASC; school councils not being treated with appropriate gravitas
Peisch: is that something that you could actually get any of your districts have difficulty filling your school council?
MASS: level of pedagogy left to non-education professionals
MBAE: heavily on the loose side here
Chang-Diaz: gesture of a recommendation about sending money directly to the school level
MBAE: leaving flexibility to different districts for different needs
language suggestions to David?
Verdolino: if you try to mandate a way to make sure that this money goes to each individual school, are you putting in a tremendous layer of backfill from central budget
"this could be a lot more trouble than its worth"
I'm not sure who is talking now
"want to be about kids are doing"
don't want to get into looking into if additional money went into ELL, where it went into PD to address ELL, and it's harder to track
want to be sure it doesn't put us into defensive mode
MARVA "over time it becomes increasingly difficult" over time to track new money
MassBudget: is there a way of merging the story: there are things we never did that we intended to, and things we now know we should do that we didn't
confirmation from MASC that this now deals with "accountability" bit


Peisch: placeholder that acknowledges the need for early education
Chang-Diaz: heard about high quality early ed in so many places
"high quality preschool is a promising practice"
tactic that we frequently saw highlighted
"both for closing achievement gap and for saving money in special education"

MTA: correct historical underinflation
5% total
Peisch: caution that list is so expensive that it won't be taken seriously
MTA: compromise: historic underinflation in 2010 (which was 2%)
MASC: is there a difference between recommending the change and recognizing that inflation has not been completed
"there is a significant dollar differential here"
Peisch: some statement in the report "that general indicates...a recognition that the foundation budget from time to time as it has been calculated over the year has not" included inflation
"maybe in a footnote"
("maybe in a footnote?")
MTA: "I know it strikes some people as trival..." (he's interupted "We KNOW it's not trival")
Note that this would $7M for Worcester Public Schools

early ed commissioner: more than "promising practice"
"strong evaluation of that"
Peisch: drafting language to include

Peisch: in district special education: presentation at last meeting
"no real impact or best practices"
came to conclusion "that we've essentially run out of resources" to deal with in district special ed
may put a sentence in that it needs to be looked at "but it's beyond our time and resources"
Moscovitch: "I don't agree with that"
MASS: instructional core for improving schools
"elephant in the room when we talk about coaches is Ed owns" a coaching company (?)
13 year rollout on...I have no idea what her proposal is...oh, she's introducing this
Moscovitch: "about improving instruction"
"unless this report is seen as improving instruction not just for low income kids"
free up two hours each week for a teacher, two instructional coaches at each school
"yes there is a lot of money on the table...but at its heart, this is a proposal for improving instruction"
Moscovitch is now going through his prosposal
want to say what the problem is
need to talk about it in terms of teachers and class size
thinks that this is a much greater guarantee of ongoing funding support
"I think we all understand you can't have a good class with 28 or 30 kids in it"
"resume using staffing as part of what you report"
Chang-Diaz: different catagories of teachers
Moscovitch: "other teacher" catagory
importance of "guidance counselors and other sorts of services"
when people ask why the music teacher was cut "the music teacher is paying for health care"
essential for understanding and for long-term political support
Chester: concern about staffing whether that drives folks to a standardized approach across the Commonwealth when we're seeing a lot of different directions
Moscovitch: superintendents said (back in 1993), we're all going to do this differently
but no one felt uncomfortable that just because there was a standard, they all had to do it this way
Chester: on PD, coaches...seeing a number of different models some of which are very effective
Both Louisiana and Tennessee have developed an approach to identify lead teachers; quarterly meeting regionally, statewide once a year
"thinking about the foundation budget, I hate to lock us into a one-size-fits all sort of model"
Moscovitch: "that was never the intention"
"there's got to be a way to identify that you've" used the resources to improve instruction
Chester: "I'm not enthusiastic about requiring a lot more planning...want more transparency of where the dollars went"
to show differences in how schools are spending dollars and identifying things that are working
MBAE: felt we dealt with this issue in the preliminary report
felt like this was reopening professional development
Moscovitch: "we never discussed professional development in the preliminary report"
MBAE "trying to give discretion to school leaders" to spend their money
"also very input oriented"
MTA: should be taken very seriously...don't know that we have time"
MASC: focusing on in-district special education number "is there anything to suggest it isn't accurate?"
if it's significant, can't ignore it
MASBO; "numbers all corraborate each other"
"my recollection is that in-district special education was part of the" next steps
Peisch: if you just try to recommend what is being spent without benchmarking to some performance, some evidence to what works, it's problematic
health insurance benchmarked to GIC
"we haven't done that kind of looking to make that kind of judgment"
"I think that to endorse a number runs the risk that inflation does but to a greater extent"
"selling the need for greater influence...a little concerned about having everything class size driven"
acknowledge in our recommendations is left open
concerned about simply funding what is currently happening
Moscovitch: based on walking through schools
Peisch: that's the same thing to me
Moscovitch "when you see how an inclusion model works, you can see why you need more than 15 minutes a day" per classroom
"I think you need some way of focusing attention in districts"
MBAE: "very serious proposal that I want to read carefully" but don't think there's time
Chang-Diaz: include in it "the delta"
"the difference between a recommendation and a recognition"
would you be comfortable if we included that this is an issue and we haven't gotten to it, recommend it to the Legislature's attention
"I honestly don't know the answer to the question what is exactly the problem in many districts that need to get fixed"
"In many districts, I think it's instructional quality"
"if we had heard from everyone, or much of anyone, a concern with instructional quality, I would feel better about putting a fence around instructional quality" as a special category
essentially, they didn't decide on this. They're going to circulate things, discuss them via email, and HOPE to vote on final draft at next meeting October 26

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