Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Board of Education meets next week in Pittsfield

Another "taking it on the road" episode of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, this time in Pittsfield! And thus the meeting starts at nine-thirty. The agenda is posted here.
In part because the big news drop on MCAS/accountability is embargoed until that day, some of the stuff in this meeting doesn't have links, so there's not much a preview here.

word of warning from me: the tweeting and blogging is going to start late, as I have a meeting with a student council that morning first
This also means we get a chance to see the new Taconic High, which is great! 

After the usual array of public and Board comments, the Board meeting opens with a panel on educator diversity in part from Pittsfield. Specifically:
In FY2019, 14 school districts, including Pittsfield Public Schools, received teacher diversification pilot program grants.1 Pittsfield Public Schools utilized the grant to develop and implement an out-of-state recruitment strategy designed to foster new partnerships with students and staff from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). In July 2019, the district invited 12 students from HBCUs to participate in a one-week immersion program to acquaint them with teaching and living in the Berkshires.
They're also electing a new vice-chair.
They are receiving a report from the Berkshire County Task Force (no link). For those not familiar, the Task Force has been working for a number of years on the difficulties of educating the Berkshires' shrinking population of schoolchildren over the many (and hilly!) miles. This is a real issue (and honestly, not only in the Berkshires) which doesn't get as much attention as it should at the state level, 'though, to be fair, the state funds the Task Force.

The Commissioner is proposing his goals for 2019-20, and there's no link to that, either.

MCAS and the corresponding accountability results will be released that morning.
Relatedly, the Commissioner is recommending to the Board that the minimum competency standard of the classes of 2021 and 2022 be also extended to the class of 2023; this would, with the vote of the Board, go out for public comment, as it is a regulation change. This is about the switch to the new tenth grade MCAS. This year's junior class is the first class to have taken it, but their scores are scaled against the prior test, essentially, such that the passage rate is parallel. That will also be true of this year's sophomores. This would extend that same to the freshmen class, as well. The argument, from the memo, is:
  • The need for additional time to consider the results from the first administration of the grade 10 tests in spring 2019; 
  • The need for additional time to consult with and gather feedback from the educational community, including students, parents, educators, administrators, policymakers, and community and business leaders, regarding a new CD standard; 
  • and The need to provide adequate notice to students about the state high school graduation standard they are expected to meet. The class of 2023 is currently in 9th grade. This proposed extension of the current CD standard would provide timely notice that the Board is maintaining the interim standard as to their graduating class, and allow time for the Board to consider, adopt, and provide notice of any new standard for future graduating classes.
Finally, there is an overview of this year and next year's budget, which also doesn't have a backup.

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