After opening comments, they're starting their year by voting in a new vice-chair (the chair is a Governor appointment).
Commissioner Riley is presenting his goals for the coming year. There's some good things here (I'm summarizing)!
- implementation of the history/social studies standards and development of the new arts standards
- communication and outreach on celebrating teachers, creating a working committee on diversifying the teaching force, convening major stakeholders in the spring to discuss a path forward, visiting 100 schools
- HEY! "I will collaborate with the Governor's office, Legislature, and stakeholders to promote and advance necessary changes in the foundation budget that will ultimately lead to an accurate reflection of the needs of all students in the Commonwealth." !!!!
- targeted intervention of underperforming schools BUT look at what that looks like to him: "may include improvement of instructional practices to accelerate learning, culturally responsive teaching and learning, and increased engagement opportunities for students."
- analyze and refine the new accountability system
- "lead the promotion of racial equity, diversity, and cultural proficiency" at DESE
- "assess the responsibilities and functions of the agency"
There's an update on the arts curriculum framework, which is in the "writing and revising" phase.
There's an update on what we are still clunkily calling the "next generation MCAS" and the high school proficiency standard. Participation this past spring was over 99%. This year's sophomores will take the high school version of the new MCAS, and next summer, their scores will be scaled to a standard held to passing as now, which will hold for two years. The Commissioner is likewise recommending that a parallel path be established with the new science high school test. The class of 2023 (this year's eighth graders) will be those first held to a new standard, which will be developed starting next fall; watch for public input sessions. Note also this language in closing:
I am committed to investigating ways that we can reduce the amount of time that is spent on testing, while maintaining the quality of the tests and the validity of the results. I am also interested in ways that we can return results more quickly, especially to teachers.There's also (will the wonders never cease!) an administration-generated update on the foundation budget, including the bits implemented in the FY19 budget (an update I've been meaning to do myself), and a note on DESE involvement in the conference committee, which I think is worth quoting in full:
This past July, the Department staff were actively engaged by the legislative conference committee that was considering statutory changes to Chapter 70 in order to provide technical support and financial projections needed by the committee to inform their deliberations. Ultimately, the conferees were not able to resolve their differences, but it is clear that there is a high level of interest in exploring long-term, statutory changes to the foundation budget in areas that had been addressed at varied levels of detail by the FBRC.There will also (why is this always at the end?) an overview of the FY19 budget and a look ahead to FY20.
During the course of this consultative work, the Department modeled the impact of four types of changes to the formula:
Raising rates for employee benefits and fixed charges toward goals based on FBRC calculations
Raising special education rates and increasing special education assumed enrollment percentages
Raising rates for out-of-district special education toward FBRC goal rates to close gap with Circuit Breaker, which we modeled by setting the goal at 3 times the statewide foundation per pupil
Increasing percentages for assumed in-district special education enrollment toward FBRC goals of 4 percent for non-vocational students and 5 percent for vocational students
Establishing ELL student increments consistent with the increments outlined in the FBRC report. The new ELL increments that we were asked to model for all grade levels was based on the difference between the ELL middle school rate and the non-ELL middle school rate that existed under the rate structure used through FY18.
We were also asked to model various approaches to substantially increasing the increments associated with economically disadvantaged students based on the relative concentration of low-income students being served by particular districts.
Given our experience at the end of the legislative session and our continuing conversations with the Administration, we anticipate that we will be asked to provide substantial support to both the legislature and the Administration as they work on their respective legislative proposals as part of their FY20 budget development process. Most immediately, DESE will be actively working with the Executive Office of Education to model the impact of various possible changes to foundation budgets and related school finance programs and provide input on any related statutory language that might be required, as needed.
That's Tuesday at 8:30 and yes, there will be liveblogging.