Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Board of Education meets Tuesday, December 20

They've posted the agenda here.
After the usual comments from the Commissioner, the Chair, the Secretary, and the public, they'll be hearing an update from Holyoke; note this report on the high school redesign from MassLive this morning. It's also worth noting that, while dual language has expanded under the receiver, the initial impetus for that came prior to the state takeover.
They'll be receiving a report on the PISA results for Massachusetts. As in prior years, Massachusetts paid to have the state evaluated separately on this international exam. Also, as in prior years, Massachusetts came in close to the top in the world. I posted some links last week regarding things to consider about PISA.
DESE will be giving an update on the state's plans under ESSA, after the series of public input sessions they held across the state. While final regulations were issued this month, note that the Republican members of the policy committee for the Congressional Review Act is looking at them closely; particularly with the new administration and an entirely Republican-controlled Congress, it isn't at all clear what is going to happen with this.
There is an initial discussion scheduled around educator licensure.
The discussion this month on MCAS will involve six recommendations from the Commissioner on high school testing. Those are:
  1. Provide clear and accurate signals to students about whether they are on track for the expectations of colleges, employers, and civic engagement.
  2. Keep the high school competency determination for English language arts and mathematics at grade 10 for the near future
  3. Add history and social science to the competency determination.
  4. Eliminate the high school chemistry and technology/engineering tests (as most choose bio or physics).
  5. Add an introductory physics re-testing opportunity in February (in addition to the retest of bio already offered).
  6. Convene a stakeholder workgroup to identify and recommend options for a grade 11/grade 12 assessment program to gauge students' readiness for success after high school.
(all of the above outside of parenthesis are quotes) 
This backup includes one of the more hopeful things I've ever read in a DESE backup: 
We're also cognizant of the many other scheduled activities in high school, and we've heard loudly and clearly from our stakeholders that we need to minimize additional time lost to standardized testing. 
So, in looking at options for grade 11 and grade 12, I recommend that we take this opportunity, and take the time, to think creatively and not assume the answer is another one size fits all standardized test.
There will be a presentation on the Legislative update on the calculation of economically disadvantaged students. Watch this one closely: not only does it matter for the calculation of the foundation budget, but there has been some work going on behind the scenes to improve the matching of students that has to take place to create those numbers (you might remember that students have to be "found" in another database to create this count; MassBudget had an excellent series of recommendations on this last month). There also remains work for the Legislature to do (yes, including updating the foundation budget!).

There is a report on the probation of the Martin Luther King Charter School of Excellence (backup is a Word doc which you can find off the agenda).

Finally, there is "continuing discussion" on the Mattahunt in Boston.

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