The joint meeting focused on early college expansion, with a presentation of the recommendations of a joint effort over the past year, and a featuring of the early college work at Marlboro High School. The boards voted in favor of a resolution to create a recognized early college designation, with a joint board overseeing it. The effort is to focus on students who might not otherwise consider college, and programs will be required to offer at least 12 credits. There is, at this time, no financing to accompany the effort.
The joint boards also heard an update on the new MCAS exam. This noted that part of the concern raised about the previous test was the number of students who could not place into college courses through Accuplacer, though they had graduated from high school (and thus had passed the MCAS). At the same time, the colleges are stepping away from using Accuplacer as a decisive factor. The student member of the Higher Ed Board Jasson Alvarado-Gomez commented, "I don't get the point of the MCAS; I never have, I still don't," sharing that it had taken him three times to pass the math MCAS, but it didn't indicate his real abilities.
After a recess, the K-12 Board met on its own. They opened with public comment on the charter schools votes before them. The Boston Green Horace Mann Charter had its probation extended through 2019. The Board voted 6-3, with Stewart, Doherty, and McKenna opposing, to add 35 seats to Boston Collegiate Charter, to add 300 seats to Boston Prep, and to add 50 seats to Sturgis Charter (on the Cape). As was noted in the meeting, Boston Prep had an out-of-school suspension rate of 35% in 2012; that is now 14.6%. Chair Sagan expressed his frustration that due to the vote this fall, though there was demand "our hands are tied." Doherty commented that he felt it behooved the Board to respect the decision of voters, even if it did not directly impact their decision.
The Board then took public comment on the ESSA proposal. They then heard a report from New Bedford on their Level 5 school, with some additional information about other Level 5 schools. Finally, they reprised some of the discussion on ESSA.
While it was not discussed at the meeting, there was available the Commissioner's goals and objectives for 2016-17. They are:
Advance achievement for all students:
- Promote improved achievement for all students with a focus on improving third-grade reading levels and middle grade mathematics achievement
- Narrow proficiency gaps based on race/ethnicity and income status
- Continue to advance education for students in the level 4 and 5 schools
- Revise and strengthen the ELA and Mathematics standards and frameworks
- Deliver a high-quality Next Generation MCAS
- Launch the review of the History/Social Studies/Civics framework
- Continue to implement the workgroup recommendations for civic engagement and learning
- Work with educators to support social/emotional learning
- Revise the educator evaluation regulations based on feedback from the field
- Expand digital learning opportunities to enhance and augment teaching and learning