Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Board of Ed meets for December next week

Didn't they just meet? They're early for December due to the holidays.
You can find the agenda here.
After the round of opening remarks, the first report is one from the Springfield Empowerment Zone. I do want to flag here, by the way, that the Zone has now been incorporated into the regular circulation of monthly reports from the receivership districts, 'though Springfield is not a receivership district. The description here, as elsewhere, continues to tap dance past the whole "hey, we took away the local democratic governance model" by sprinkling the words LOCAL AUTONOMY all over it.

In any case...

There will be an update on the Commissioner's search. As a reminder, the deadline to apply is this Friday (December 15); the screening committee meets December 18. They will then do some interviews, meet again in early January to vote to forward finalists to the full Board, who will interview those finalists on January 17 and 18. The Board is expected to vote on January 23, at their regular January meeting. EDITING to add a link to this Ed Week article on state commissioner salaries; our previous commissioner did make less money than a number of our superintendents.

Did you know there's an Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council?
The School and District Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council (AAAC) advises on matters pertaining to the development and implementation of the Commonwealth's School and District Accountability and Assistance system.
Me, either. They're reporting out next week on their work this year. Two things that they weighed in on that I found interesting: they suggested that the state "categorize districts and schools using meaningful descriptors instead of numbers" and they also raised two concerns related to classifying districts as Level 3 due to non-participation in testing.

And speaking of accountability, there is an update on the state's accountability system. Key sentence:
The enactment of ESSA in 2015 and our state's transition to a Next-Generation MCAS assessment have given us the opportunity to rethink the design of our accountability system.
There is as yet no backup (maybe they're going for a big unveiling?), but the highlights the memo does let us know about are as follows:
  • The inclusion of additional accountability indicators, which will provide information about school performance and student opportunities beyond test scores; 
  • A focus on raising the performance of each school's lowest performing students in addition to the performance of the school as a whole; 
  • and The discontinuation of accountability and assistance levels (Levels 1 to 5), which will be replaced with accountability categories that better define the progress that schools are making and the type of support or assistance they may receive from the Department.
So, a big deal (and why I keep complaining on Twitter about people focusing on the level system: WE WON'T HAVE THE SAME SYSTEM ANYMORE.); here's hoping I can keep up with the presentation in the liveblog! 

The Board is voting on the increase in tuition for virtual schools, bringing them out of the school choice amount and into something closer to the foundation budget amount.

And, as promised, the Board is getting an update on the LOOK bill and ELL students in general.

You may also be interested in the Board's letter about FY19, a report on grants, and an update on Commissioner's actions on charter schools.

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