Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving games TOMORROW!

The Worcester Public Schools Thanksgiving football games have been moved up due to the impending snowstorm.
They are now TOMORROW:
10:00 am   North vs South 
12:30 pm   Doherty vs Burncoat
At Foley Stadium 

Level 5 schools

Chester: was positively impressed in each case
"saw very intentional work on upgrading curriculum"
tailoring work to students
differentiating work and supports
met with parents in each school: parents very positive about their experience, and many had been skeptics
Networking of these schools: receivers together each month to work on things of their interest
receivers would like to have observations of the schools among themselves
beginning to see some positive results
DiTufllio: really do need to know when we have an expiration date on these things
"people need to know that we're not going to be there forever"
"moreover people need to know that they're going to own it again"
"can't just say it's done when we say it's done"
Stewart: "how we sustain what we're talking about"
"if they were positive, they were very positive...there was at least one negative around not having an open house...with any turnaround, whatever goals we have should include family engagement goals"

Educator evaluation: Board of Ed

Memo here
Chester: "not yet including student impact ratings, we're rolling that in over the next couple of years, they'll be collected in 2015-16"
of all evaluated (admin, principals, teachers, etc) 86.5% proficient
"does not surprise me...I've started with the assumption that our educators are solid"
in Level 4 and 5 schools, 77.8% all educators proficient
Noyce: do we track those who got "needs improvement"?
Yes, have a unique identifier. Request for result
Chernow: twice as many educators in Level 4 and 5 schools needs improvement than in full population
last year's results for current Level 4 and 5 schools
Chernow wonders about by year results
Roach asking if people are staying in the profession after the first couple of years or if they're leaving, particularly if they needed improvement
McKenna: charter schools having teacher churn at higher rates
Roach: if we're going to want teachers in the lower performing schools, how to make sure that teachers want to be there, if you're tying things to compensation "because they will make the difference in these low performing schools"
Daniels: not surprised that needs improvement is higher in Level 4 and 5 schools: "my sense is that there is far more scrunity in these [Level 4 and 5] schools than there is in our other schools"
Stewart: is there a process for how student impact rating will move going forward?
Chester: information on website
"that's all going into effect as we speak"
Stewart: "would be really great if we could create some sort of impact rating for families, maybe particularly in Level 4 and 5s" interested in how we might do that
McKenna: if scores are lower in Level 4 and 5 because evaluation protocol is being applied in a different way, that's sort of troubling
"that shouldn't happen...it would give me cause for concern"
"it sounds to me as if that would need more training across the schools"
Chester: in that rating are schools that moved from Level 4 to 5, and some that are not as strong as it could be, so "it's not surprising that they some of that may be because maybe the teaching isn't as strong as it should be"
Chernow: that's why it would be interesting to pull out by year
McKenna: "so you've got a lot of apples, oranges, and grapefruits in here"
Chester: "and bananas"
Noyce: kids with high needs "may be seen by teachers as less favorable places to work"
look at this by those categories
"while we may have a wish that the best teachers are working in the most challenging schools, we don't have a way of making that happening. And maybe we don't want to have a way of doing that."

Restraint and seclusion regs: Board of Ed

backup here
Chester: put together data on where and how widely they're being used
"hoping to inform your deliberation at the December meeting" when they'll vote on changes
McKenna: main controversy is on prone restraint
are there other controversies?
DESE: new definition of time out, required training, required reporting of restraints
state current does not require reporting of all restraints only specific ones, though districts do. Change is that DESE would now get all
Stewart: getting any comments on compromise language?
Yes, there have been comments that have helped us "frame our way forward"
have received some specific language on alternatives
"very intense review, the public comment period"
will also make a copy of all public comment
Willyard: students all right with intent to update language, students not a fan of ban on prone restraint
are there other options that would update the language wihout banning prone restraint?
moving in parallel with early childhood board

Board of Ed proposed amendments on vocational education

The vote is to put proposed changes out to public comment
Deadline for comments is early January, will be back on Board agenda in February
Chester: result of more than a year of work
work group of both traditional districts and vo-tech districts
runs through categories of proposals
"There are many grievances that I receive" from both sides
Try to tackle some of the areas where grievances are more than just the one-off
and if this is of interest, do read the memo and the backup
McKenna more appropriate to comment when this comes back to us
folks from field, beyond recommending superintendents
Chernow: not sure what you're recommending on exploratory: everyone does their exploratory in their home district if it is available? Yes.
Does everyone start with exploratory? That is the typical process.

Board of Ed on college and career readiness

sorry, a few tweets, but no notes on Lawrence
Now a PowerPoint on college and career readiness; you can read the Commissioner's memo here.
career development education
"majority of our students and the vast majority of our low income students have to work while pursuing post secondary education"
reason many drop out due to finance
working and education are done together rather than one after the other
"thinking to do and work to do while students are in K-12 on career ready and college ready"
or does that mean we have work to do on how we provide higher ed?
Advisory group to "keep pushing this work forward"
what are you tracking? Student, school, and employer level: schools offering career development activity, increase number of students participating, and number of employees participating
want 100,000 9-10th grade students doing career awareness exploration activities and 75,000 11-12th grade students participating in career immersion activities by 2017
"conscious development of a set of skills that facilitate and sometimes compliment academic skills"
wish to increase school to career line item in DESE budget
have to have employer engagement: "it's a combination of sales and account management"
"upward trajectory is really dependant on increase in funding"
"the last thing I want to say is this has got to be the year"
has hopes of Jim Peyser, as former Board chair
"this item historically never dipped below $4M...slipped all the way to $2.7M after last week's 9C cuts"
"three legs of the stool that students in our schools need to sit on"
by which he means academic, social/personal development, workplace readiness
need to make sure stool becomes more balanced
spend a lot of time getting kids college ready, but we need to get kids job ready, "because that's where they'll spend the bulk of their life"
big pitch here for increased funding for next year
looking for track of what happened in pilots that have run
Board "should consider incorporating career development education into what we measure and assess"


and here we go...
Commissioner: "have gotten quite a bit of testimony"
"you know what my recommendation is today"
recommending that you grant the waiver
"intertwined policies and regulations came together in a way that...I certainly didn't anticipate"
"know the process the Board has used over the past year to better align with the system the state uses ...to determine bottom 10%" with state accountability system
request to review and reverse, or to waive
"there are probably few things that the Board has done that has been more public" than that change in regs
thinks that plain reading is correct one (to sum), arguing against the three main assertions made by charter proponents
"I don't think there's any procedural error on the part of the Board...do think that there is a basic fairness"
"so that this application can be reviewed on its merits"
"just letting this application go through the review process"
"ultimately you will be decide if the applicant has met the high bar" for charters
first time state has only two applicants for bottom 10% of districts
"a district that all other things being equal does not need a cap lift...have this because of the collision of the statutory provision"
"waive any provision in exceptional circumstances"
waive amendments from last year
if you do, would roll forward under previous regulations
"narrow set of circumstances...not setting a precedent"
"not reaching any conclusion on the strength of this application, would just allow application to go foward on its merits"
"have great respect for work going on in city of Brockton"
"not based on any calculus that Brockton is somehow not getting the job done"
"final point I would make to the Board is...you could consider proposing making changes in statute"
He suggests that having the bottom 10% applications needed first may need to be changed (Gee, thanks, Commissioner!)
Wulfson (Deputy Commissioner): reviews what was known when changes were made
"in hindsight...I wish we had...recommended that they be made...the following application cycle...I think if we had done that...everyone would have just nodded and said 'that seems fair'"

Penny Noyce: "if we grant this waiver, will this affect the calculation for the bottom 10% for other purposes for this year?"
No "only used for charter" applications
Donald Willyard: "if we're going to talk about the language and how it's plainly stated...as a means of prioritization..." Intent of law is to establish charter schools, not to prevent the establishment
waviers granted by us on what we deem exceptional
"not based on merits of New Heights" "give them a chance to have them show us what they have"
Mary Ann Stewart: Board received numerous and compelling written testimony
"I'm not convinced by the explanation we've been given"
"I don't feel that we should be changing anything at this point"
Chernow "pretty much all...agree on history of what happened"
charter association was notified on change of calculation's impact on which communities would be in or out
"I don't think that there's been a secretive process or one that's been extremely public and transparent"
"many times we've been faced with issues...where we want to give someone a chance,...but the regs say 'no'"
Have never waived regs in that time
Level 5 schools, Gloucester charter school, "we didn't waive that"
"I have a problem...we all operate in a very complex world...I don't see how we as a board can say at this point that we're going to waive this regulation, or statute---and I didn't know you could waive a statute--and go forward"
"I think it would create a tremendous questioning of this Board"
"we set a standard...for what indicates school improvement"
To say to Brockton "you did what we said" but we're going to go back on that, isn't fair
"Labels are very important"
cannot support waiver request
back to Noyce: "basically in favor of choice for parents"
vote on growth was taken as anti charter; growth means that individual students are doing better over time
"All of that said I have to agree with Harneen, to turn around and tell Brockton 'oh, you're in the bottom 10% this year' is a mistake"
concerned about citation of 10% in law
McKenna: going to vote in favor of this, and for a very narrow reason: DESE knew impact of change of determining who was in the bottom 10%
we knew Brockton would fall out: we did not make that determination until October
"had an obligation to enforce the law"
"we did not realize"
Comes about because of timing, changed the definition in June
Wulfson clarifies no identification of bottom 10% until fall due to MCAS scores coming out in fall
McKenna "we had a pretty good idea of what that list was going to look like after March"
Roach: "would be my preference to vote against the waiver"
partly because of energy and effectiveness of their programs
also as a response to the disingenuousness of their arguments in the spring
"not my habit to reward for bad behavior"
"if this is the price of doing this a year early, I'm willing to pay it"
Impacted 67000 kids in a positive way, twice as many kids as are served by the charter schools
"my senses...that the fair thing to do is let them proceed"
"I"m not particularly happy about it"
"one time, one time only, an exception"
Chernow: I understand the concern for fairness, I'm concerned about equity for Brockton, Brockton falls into bottom 10%
"they did what we asked them to do, for them to fall into bottom 10% because others didn't isn't equitable"
Chester says that it "defers for a year" the weighting of growth
Chernow: "with all due respect, waiving the growth formula for a year means we're retaining the current 80/20 percent...these lowest applicants need to be in the lowest 10%...we're basically telling Brockton you're in the lowest ten percent"
McKenna asks for legal council opinion, as thought only giving a narrow exception
Legal council: waives calculation of lowest 10% for purpose of awarding charters only, would substitute previous means of calculation only for the placement of charters in this year
aka: YES
McKenna: "that was not my understanding"
Legal council: law requires lowest 10% calculation, Board cannot waive that
McKenna: can't we just make an exception to the regulation?
Legal: only way you can do that is to waive the regulation, you still need to calculate the lowest 10%
McKenna: publishing a new list of schools in bottom 10% is not what she thought would be happening
Wulfson: no way to go around that, have to recalculate bottom 10% as legally required
Chester: "I don't know why we would have to publish anything"
couldn't the Board ask us to figure out if Brockton qualifies under previous calculation?
Legal council: yes, but you'd have to do it for everyone
Craven: what would this look like?
McKenna: motion on floor
Wulfson: suggest change the word to calculate from publish
We've having a quick conversation here about FOIA requests
Chernow: Brockton and every other district should know, not just Brockton
Willyard: "would be okay with it, if it were just for" this
"in no other light would Brockton be the bottom 10%"
Chuang: Brockton in 10% if only on achievement basis, not including growth
Chester: could you clarify?
Chuang: pulling up list of Excel spreadsheet that has both lists, achievement only and growth included
"wouldn't be publishing something that isn't already public"
"only weighed on achievement factors...talking about information that's already available"
Malone: "Very very interesting conversation"
"aside from my family, my children...there is nothing I'm more proud of than Brockton being right here" (out of 10%)
"there's one person sitting at this table who fought like hell against a charter in Brockton and took the arrows in the back"
"never want to support people like that'
"was prepared to come here today to support the waiver"
Department needs to get itself together to get a vote
"because I'm leaving this job, I can maybe say things in this job that wouldn't otherwise..."
"if we could fix the formula we wouldn't have this fight, people!"
"this confluence is a technical issue because someone fell asleep at the switch"
"the problem with rank order is that we have these conversations"
"when the other motivation is to stay out of the bottom ten percent, what have we done for our industry?"
"confused against what this does for the ranking, but I'm not against moving ahead with what happens when this goes forward or not"
"I will say to you that my free advice is to table this issue and come back with better advice"
"if Board moves to vote tonight, I would vote in favor of waiver"
"I'm conflicted, because the easy thing for me to do is to say 'hell, no'...but what's the right thing to do"
Noyce: "I think we've discussed this well and bring it to vote"
change 'publish' to 'determine' and take the vote
request by Mary Ann Stewart that it be put on the screen, to which Secretary Malone suggests opening Word and typing, which is what is happening
Chernow points out that how lowest 10% is determined has to voted by Board
Craven: wants to know impact of vote : waiving reg or law?
McKenna; waiving regulation for this purpose only, for this year only
Craven: "legislative intent doesn't matter...want to make sure words meet the intent"
That the BESE, in accordance with 603 CMR 1.03(2), herby waive the amendments to 603 CMR 1.04(9), as adopted by the Board on March 25, 2014; the Board further directs the Commissioner to determine a ranking of districts based on the criteria in said regulations prior to adoption of said amendments solely for the purpose of determining whether the New Heights Charter School of Brockton application submitted in the 2014-15 application cycle may proceed; provided that this wavier shall apply only to applications for Commonwealth charter schools submitted during the 2014-15 application cycle
Stewart: "just want to go back to where I started when I came in...precisely for these kinds of reasons"
"the unintended consequences you will not know"
"this is a bad idea because there are too many unknowns...an hour in on the agenda, it's still unclear"
even thought everyone had a very clear idea coming in
"too much time has passed, too much has happened"
"impact is going to be felt in ways that we're not going to be happy about"
VOTE on amendment: passes
Chernow: back to previous: straight achievement
"all those districts that moved out this year are back to the bottom 10%, then"
McKenna: would narrow that significantly...is that not true?
Chernow: "there won't be any request or any listing...not used for any accountability purposes"
"this means that Fitchburg can't come back and request that they be part of this"
comment from crowd "until they come back"
Malone: motion to table
"I don't like doing business like this, I don't like treating my board like this, I know you're not my board, but I don't think we should do this this way...unbecoming of effective board"
motion to table: fails
McKenna; "gotten clearer and narrower"
Motion passes, 7-3 [Chernow, Stewart, and Noyce opposed] (updated: it was Noyce as the third no)

Public comment at the Board of Ed

Rep. Brady and Cronin are here, deferring comment to later in meeting
updating as we go; using names only as obvious to me

Mass Board of Ed meets at 8:30: opening remarks

The agenda is here.
I'll update this post with notes on opening remarks once we've started. Updating as we go!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Today's meeting cancelled

The meeting of the Standing Committee on Governance and Employee Issues that was scheduled for today at 4:30 p.m. has been cancelled.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Meetings next week

While it's a short school week next week--Worcester has school only on Monday and Tuesday--there are two meetings of note.
  • On Monday, the Governance and Employee Issues standing committee meets at 4:30 PM in the Durkin Administration Building. You can find the agenda here. Title I parents advisory council, Bill H450 on teaching health, the WPS social media policy, the Byrne grant, and aligning our evaluation process with our elections are all on the agenda. 
  • On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Board of Ed has their regular monthly meeting. You can find the agenda here. They are voting on the waiver for a Brockton charter school.* They're also getting an update from Lawrence, voting on opening proposed changes to the vocational regs to public comment, getting a progress report on "Intergrating College and Career Readiness,"**receiving an update on proposed on amendments on restraint and seclusion, receiving the 2014 report on teacher evaluation, and receiving a report on Level 5 schools. And yes, I'm going, and yes, I'll be blogging. 

*They've decided the Fitchburg one can just roll forward, as they've now gerrymandered the district it's drawing from to make it a "bottom 10% district"
**Sorry for the quotes. I have trouble taking that very seriously. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Looking for more on the Superintendent's evaluation? updating with comments from members

It was early in the meeting; scroll down!

Let's take a look at comments from members!

Regarding MCAS/PARCC refusal

This is my item, asking specifically what we're sending home when we get a refusal from a student, and what we're doing with the student in school in the meantime. The answer is...we're waiting for more information from the state. 

Speaking of public health...

...did you get your flu shot yet?

I learned something about stopping for school buses today

If you don't stop for one of our school buses, we have a camera that records just that activity. Our drivers turn the information that they get on the car, along with the video, in when they get back to the lot. That information is then forwarded to the Registry.
And yes, the Registry can and does issue citations.


Biancheria: number of staff we have and where the funding came from
backup here
one IT member per 1300 users
would appreciate more information on that
paid IT interns a total of $68,892 (for four full year positions)
Boone: "often I've heard this committee talk about ways we can increase internships"
"really a cost efficient way for providing services"
"this $68,892 may have served as a single position, depending on what it is, and this is four people"
Allen: grant funded are all funded under Title I
has funded IT interns for eight years now, have had IT interns for 20 years
Biancheria: does it take away from other programs?
side note: our Title I allocation for this year is a total of $9.7 million
Boone: I have to ask what we're trying to accomplish here
Biancheria: this is a discussion, this is not criticism
Foley: we've saved money over the years through interns
gives college students experience, at the same time save us significant dollars
Allen: saved us a million dollars in development costs to do in house

TLSS on math curriculum

Reporting out here. 
Motion then is to approve the contract (for this time)

Exam school report coming next meeting

The mayor just announced that the specialized high school is on the next agenda. That meeting is December 4.

Evaluation of the superintendent: updated with link to joint evaluation and key slides

I We just before the meeting got both the mayor's joint report and the individual committee member reports. The individual reports are not posted online.  The presentation of the mayor is here; I've posted some of the main slides below. You can click to make them bigger. My evaluation is here. 
Within the six performance goals set with the School Committee, there were five marks of exceeded, none of met, 8 of significant progress, 26 of some progress, and 3 did not meet (that's of 42 scores).

Note that within each of the four standards set by the state, there are a number of indicators that then yield that rating. So, for example, within Instructional Leadership, there are grades for Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, Evaluation, and Data-informed Decision Making.

For Standard II: Management & Operations, the indicators are Environment; Human Resources Management; Scheduling and Management Information Systems; Law, Ethics, and Policies; and Fiscal Systems.

Within Standard III: Family and Community Engagement, there are four indicators: Engagement; Sharing Responsibility; Communication; and Family Concerns.

Within Standard IV: Professional Culture, there are six indicators: Commitment to High Standards; Cultural Proficiency; Communication; Continuous Learning; Shared Vision; and Managing Conflict. 

Yielding...5 proficient and 2 needs improvement...which in turn yields a proficient rating.
Next up, a sampling of comments! 

College application celebration

Official declared for November 25 in the City of Worcester

My 2014 evaluation of the superintendent

...can be found here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Four new accelerated repair projects approved by MSBA this morning!

Good news from the MSBA Board meeting this morning!
Approved today are window projects for:

  • Clark Street
  • Goddard
  • Union Hill
  • West Tatnuck
(This is the approval of the actual money, meaning we can roll forward next summer.)
Clark Street, Union Hill, and West Tatnuck are about $2.5 million each and Godddard is about $5.5 million, so that's $9.6 million in reimbursements from the state (at Worcester's 80% reimbursement rate).

I should also note that this is Treasurer Steve Grossman's last meeting as chair of the MSBA Board. You'll be missed! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Regarding opting out

Excellent post from John Merrow reflecting on the opt out movement, particularly with regards to students:
Opting out is not new [5], but something important seems to be happening here: savvy students with a clear goal using social media to communicate with each other, the citizens of Colorado, and–now–with a national audience.
What’s happening in Colorado emphasizes the importance of seeing students–not teachers– as the primary workers in schools. Students are, borrowing Peter Drucker’s term, “knowledge workers.” They are most certainly not manual workers. [6]
Because they are knowledge workers, they must be doing meaningful work that they can respect. Their view of the work matters, and, while they don’t get to decide what to do, their voices must be heard. (So too must teachers’ voices be heard, of course, because top-down decision-making almost always produces poor learning.)

First Foundation Budget Review Commission hearing

Thanks to Margaret Driscoll of Melrose for sharing her notes from last night's first of the foundation budget review commission public hearings. More under the Twitter hashtag #FBRC.
You can send in testimony to Jeannie.Williamson@mahouse.gov

And as a side note: while there is a meeting tomorrow night at Wachusett (something of a coalition of regional districts and their towns), it is not, despite the currently inaccurate title in the Telegram a meeting of the state review commission.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New guidance on "achievement gaps" is going to sink things

Rare is the day I say this, but Michael Petrilli is absolutely right on the new federal guidance on state No Child Left Behind waivers.

Worcester School Committee meets Thursday, November 20

There is a regular meeting of the Worcester School Committee this Thursday at 7 pm. You can find the agenda here.
After a couple of recognitions, the report of the superintendent is actually the report of the school committee this week: Superintendent Boone's annual evaluation. We had to get our individual evaluations in by Friday; Mayor Petty is charged with compiling them into a single joint document. If you're curious, the form we're required by state regs to fill out is here. I imagine we'll have a flurry of document posting close to the meeting itself; I've set mine to post once the meeting is starting.
Also on the agenda: the report out of the Teaching, Learning, and Student Support meeting on the math curriculum. This should include a revised contract with the clause allowing a termination after one year for any reason.
We have some personnel items, including the retirement of June Eressy, who has served in a number of roles in the district, most recently as principal of Chandler Elementary. Best wishes, June!
The various items from last time, filed by Miss Biancheria, held due to absence at the meeting, because of her mother's illness, are up this week.
We're being asked to approve the private Center for Applied Behavioral Instruction (yes, this is under our purview. New private schools? Yes. New charter schools? No.).
I'm asking that administration share with us the communcation they intend to send to parents who refuse the PARCC or MCAS for their children, as well as the process that they intend to follow with those students.
I'm sending the homework policy off to Governance (we haven't looked at in awhile).
We've had some generous donations to Andy's Attic, for which we are thankful.
We're being asked to approve a $5000 grant for Columbus Park.
We're being asked to approve a $1000 grant for the Books for Babies program.
Mr. O'Connell is asking that we recognize the recent donation of muscial equipment to Worcester East Middle school.
We're being asked to approve a donation of $294.76 from the Kiducation fund.

And we'll have an executive session at 6 pm to discuss two contract negotiations and a lawsuit.

Where does the information in the app your kid is using at school go?

And has anyone checked?
Great article in the NY Times today on the growing use of apps at schools, and the lack of tracking where the information goes. While the article focuses on behavioral apps--which, as an aside? I find appalling--this certainly carries through for about anything where your child signs into a website and does anything: reads an online book and takes a quiz, practices math problems, checks test results.
While teachers have to agree to a user agreement upon setting up the site for their classes, I suspect that the experience of many is like that of the teacher in the article: they just click agree.
On a local note: there is guidance on this coming from downtown in Worcester, as part of a larger "data managment" memo (which will deal with data walls, too). I'll make sure we get it around so that everyone knows what's supposed to be happening. In the meantime? Parents, ask!

Chair of the F.C.C. will propose additional funds for internetconnections for schools and libraries

Beyond the not-exactly-additional-funding* we heard about from Mr. Walton at our last F&O meeting, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission Tom Wheeler plans to propose additional funds specifically for internet connections through Erate: 
Mr. Wheeler will propose that the annual cap on spending for school Internet needs be raised by $1.5 billion, to $3.9 billion, according to an F.C.C. official who spoke on condition of anonymity but was authorized to release details of the proposal. The initiative is part of a continuing overhaul of the Universal Service Fund and its educational component, known as E-Rate. 
The proposal will be voted on December 11.

*because, as Mr. Walton explained, the fed didn't fund any internal connections for last year or the year before. So it's more like money they didn't spend.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fine Arts Magnet Extravaganza TONIGHT!

The students of the performing arts programs in the Burncoat Quadrant are presenting

FAME: Fine Arts Magnet Extravaganza
Worcester Technical High School
7 PM
Tickets are $12 at the door

State is recinding the licensure proposal

This just in from DESE:
In response to feedback from the field, ESE is rescinding the draft policy options that proposed linking licensure to educator evaluation. A memo from Commissioner Chester explaining the decision is attached to this email. The memo also notes that ESE is still interested in suggestions about how to refine licensure. Department staff look forward to future conversations with educators about the topic.
The text of the memo is here; Updated with text after the break:

97% opt out rate in Colorado yesterday

Here's the video from seniors at Cherry Creek High School in Aurora, CO on why they've opted out of the CMAS test. 97% did so yesterday. More at the #CMASProtest hashtag on Twitter.

Speaking of extended learning time

...which you might remember was mentioned as part of the priorities set on foundation budget by the Worcester School Committee last week, in connection with increasing the low income allotment, there is a great report out from MassBudget on extended learning time. I'm particularly impressed by the nuances in the report, at time when "longer days! longer year!" appears to be the mantra. For example:
What matters is how time is used, not just the addition of more time.   Extended day schedules have been a critical part of successful school turnarounds when they have been used to support several effective practices. These practices include increased collaboration between teachers, more effective use of student data to target academic support, improved school leadership, and deeper partnerships with community organizations. 
There are potential drawbacks with the strategy. These include the intense focus on test preparation that could be at the expense of broader learning, and the selection of kids based on better behavior and MCAS scores within range of proficiency. These students may not be representative of a wider population that also needs additional support. It also remains to be seen if gains from temporary academies will be retained over time. 
Use of MCAS, PARCC or other standardized assessments is only one domain of outcomes to measure. Successful expanded learning initiatives have focused on health and wellness, built relationships between youth and caring adults, and provided hands-on career relevant learning opportunities.
More time for more test prep is NOT the answer. It's a nuanced conversation; let's make sure we're having it.

Doherty being dismissed at 10:30 this morning

...due to an extended power outage (that happened after the students were en route). Buses are returning to the school to do their usual afternoon route.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A few post-meeting notes on the math curriculum

I was not getting online during this morning's TLSS meeting about the math curriculum. Some retrospective notes:
The contract goes into effect after it has been accepted by both the School Committee and the City Council (because it is for six years). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is ready to go when we are. They're front-loading the contract with non-consummable resources, as well as the books and such that are consummables (there aren't any hardcovers for individual students).
The contract forwarded to the School Committee did not have the clause allowing WPS to back out of the contract after this year if it did not meet our expectations. The only termination clause from our side in the contract we received was if funds were not passed to fulfill the contract. A contract including a termination clause for curriculuar cause will be forwarded to us before our November 20th meeting.
This curriculum was created post-Common Core (it hasn't just plugged things in). It also has a large literacy component.
There is "a large parent component" to these resources, both on paper and online. There are also administrative plans for parent sessions at school and district levels in coordination with the Family Academy, to be sure that parents have chances to be comfortable with the materials.
Parents will be given a chance to weigh in, as will (at least) sixth grade students.
The materials themselves will be--we're still working out how--available for parental review, both at CPPAC and (possibly) at individual schools or downtown (or both!). I'll update once we know more.
There was a stress that, while this is a district-wide curriculum, it is but one resource being used within WPS."We need to look at teacher-created materials in particular."
Also, in response to a conversation about which test Massachusetts might go with: "Teachers should not be preparing students to take tests. Teachers should be preparing students to master standards."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

CPPAC notes on testing

Dave Perda and Amanda Kershaw from the Data and Accountability 
Perda: this is "perhaps a transition year" on testing
PARCC could be a replacement for the MCAS; Board votes in the spring
"it can be helpful to take a look back"
retrospective: in 1994, state's requirement for graduation was one year of U.S. History and four years of gym (there were local requirements)
MEAP provided no results at school or student level, only at district level; were not connected to standards, as there were none
prior to MCAS, development of curriculum frameworks
first administration of MCAS was in 1998; class of 2003 was first to need to pass MCAS to graduate
"so here we are twenty years later and we're still talking about the same thing"
parent/guardian report from schools on MCAS results for each student taking the test, along with school level data
also information on student growth: student growth percentile 
comparison to your child's school, district, and state
item analysis on testing; breakdown of item by item on how your child did
Q: do they compare students and schools to where they should be?
Perda: MCAS is a standards-based test, thus compared to what each kid should know/be able to do
not a norm-referenced test, comparing student to population of test-takers
information about how schools are doing, as well: not just MCAS, graduation rates and dropout rates as well
"we all know that there are lots of other things that are condusive to a child education"
(test scores) "you gotta kind of take it with a grain of salt"
can be difficulty of interpretation when things are not standardized, so the test are at least that
School and district accountability system
"they have this complicated formula that look at all the different parts of MCAS in the school" computes the PPI: Progress and Performance Index
factors in the trends over time; also whether they met their target over the year
percentile for schools: if you're 20 or below, you're considered a Level 3 school (within your grade range)
"tell the community some crude numbers around the schools"
Q: these levels are a bit misleading...if I were a school and I were a B student, and I stayed a B student three years in a row, I could be a Level 2; a D student going up to a C- could be a Level 1. "too much weight put on these numbers"
"That's an important observation...new calculation includes student growth"
"The guidance documents for this are an inch think"
"If you're into it, look beyond this crude leveling system...look beyond the levels."
"the problem with any system is they just aren't perfect"
"You can get a better feel in your heart and in your gut by going into your child's school than you will by any of this."
Q: Is a better measurement SAT or MCAS?
Perda: "Or neither"
Doctors take lots of measurement when you go to the doctor; you need more information, this is just like taking your blood pressure.
More information on MCAS and released information on doe.mass.edu here
Q: trying to figure out how to get my son ready for PARCC
"They're kind of leaning that way"
"It's supposed to be an improvement on the MCAS, not everyone agrees. It's out there getting smacked around in the policy arena now."
Some of the thinking was that every state is doing their own thing, more or less, possibly not such a great idea; trying to get more kids taking the same assessment
Q: PARCC was originally supposed to be an online test. Access to technology limited. Online question doesn't translate to a paper question
Going to computers for kids with a lot of different issues, lot to ask a kid "who doesn't even know how to type yet" Is anyone seeing these issues?
Perda: yes, eventually will all be online.
Kershaw:  state needs to make sure the information is worth the time away from instruction
Q: will John & Abigail Adams scholarships still be tied to test scores if test changes?
You know what? We have no idea. I haven't even heard this question asked. Let's find out.
resources on PARCC 
making sure teachers know which standards are crucial
making sure teachers know which habits of thinking are stressed
Performance-based assessment in ELA assesses ability to analyze text and write effectively. In math, multi-step problems using abstract reasoning and strategy
End of year assessment in ELA will focus on reading comprehension. In math, ability to demonstate "further understanding of the major content and additional and supporting content of the grade level/course and demonstrate fluency (in applicable grades)."
"some students have trouble with all of these difference tools and all of these different options"
"they have to refine all of these different elements of the tests"
Q: "we do way too much testing...is some of this going to go away?"
"Worcester, A City that Reads never reads a novel in school."
"we need to look at the district's system of tests...and what do we use them for, and what are the trade-offs"

MCAS, data, accountability and etc at tonight's CPPAC meeting

Tonight's citywide parent (CPPAC) meeting has Dave Perda and Amanda Kershaw from the Data and Accountability department presenting. I'm sure that MCAS scores and accountability levels will come up.
The election of a co-chair and recording secretary are also on the agenda.
7 pm, Worcester Public Library

On a somewhat related note, if you'd like a "Less Testing, More Learning" bumper sticker, I've got them, and I'll have them at this meeting tonight. 

North High returning to building

North High was evacuated this morning due to a bomb threat. The school has been cleared by WPD; students are now returning to the building.
There have been a series of bomb threats at high schools across Massachusetts in recent weeks.  

"Chapter 70 and Local Education Funding"

at the Worcester Registry of Deeds for the WEC/Research Bureau presentation on the Chapter 70 formula and local education funding. With Luc Schuster from Mass Budget and Policy, Ben Forman from MassINC, Tom Zidelis from the City of Worcester, and Brian Allen from the Worcester Public Schools.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Funding public ed breakfast Wednesday!

While I do plan to liveblog it, if you can make it, I'd really recommend coming to the funding public education breakfast presentation here in Worcester on Wednesday:
Part I: Chapter 70 and Local Education Funding
November 12, 2014 - 7:45-9:00 a.m.
Worcester County Registry of Deeds, 100 Front Street, Worcester

  • Brian Allen, Worcester Public Schools
  • Benjamin Forman, MassINC & Gateway Cities Innovation Institute
  • Luc Schuster, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
  • Thomas Zidelis, City of Worcester
  • Timothy McGourthy, The Research Bureau, Moderator
Kindly RSVP to 508-799-7169 or

When state aid falls, local communities make it up if they can

Study out of New York today confirming what you probably already suspected: if they can, local communities attempt to make up state funding gaps in education.
And if they can't?

Pushing back on overtesting

So, did you see the front page story on overtesting in yesterday's Boston Globe? How about the front page story in today's New York Times?
There's lots going on around this issue in Massachusetts, so if you're interested (and on Facebook), I'd sign the petition and then join the Less Testing, More Learning group to stay up with what is happening!
And if you're in central Mass and would like a "Less Testing More Learning" bumper sticker, let me know! 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Presentation on the Foundation Budget Commission (MASC)

Foundation Budget Review Commission workshop Posting as we go
want to prepare ourselves, get prepared to give feedback to the committee
most want to know what are the issues for you on the current foundation budget; how it is not working

Opening questions:

  • what do we need for resources to begin planning?
  • should we caucus with like-thinking groups?
  • what do we NOT want to have happen? What are dealbreakers?
  • Who are the difficult people in this process? How might we identify and deal with them?
  • What should MASC do to gather membership feedback?

  • "One other thing? There are acronyms everywhere. If you don't know them, ask!"

    Q: someone pointed out that the Foundation Budget salary figures are off as they're based on teachers needing a bachelor's degree, yet now they need a master's degree (or will shortly)
    Take the difference in the calculation in your budget, multiply by your teachers, and there's that gap

    Q: Since chapter 70 has held steady for us (in a district that gets 50% from state), but foundation budget goes up, town needs to hit an override about every five years to keep up.
    Also, if there is not an override, stuck with what is had.
    Difficult concept to explain to someone how the town assessment goes up by a higher percentage than the budget goes up by.

    Q: We have group homes. Kids who come in midyear aren't reflected in October 1 counts. Funding doesn't reflect actual population.

    And I threw in this on inflation, health insurance, and special education. Go find your numbers!
    The MassBudget report "Cutting Class" is online here. 

    Q: About municipal wealth calcuation; has it been changed? The answer is yes
    Response from Senator Jehlen that commission will only talk about foundation budget calculation, not about community allocation (aka, this is out of their purview and in the purview of the Legislature)

    Jehlen: difference of opinion on what the scope of the commission is; the chair thinks it's about getting kids to pass the MCAS. A broad base of education needs to be pushed if  that is to be brought forward
    Comment that "we're not going to go into the details of this" to which the Senator asked how they were going to get anything done

    Commission will be having listening tours, hearings, in various parts of the state
    Dates as published are here

    Look at what your net chapter 70 figures are once you've paid your charter assessments; some are negative (Cape Cod and the islands: definitely you!)

    Q: Look at the preamble to the special education law for a description of what education should be. Also concern that some who need services and aren't getting them due to costs concerns

    Q: homeless needs to be represented. "Welcome them all, have no problem taking care of them" but need assistance to do so. "I want to impress on you a sense of urgency."

    Q: change the focus on what education was looked at in terms of 1993 to what it is as defined in the Constitution and what it should be for us now

    Q: prison in our town, families of the prisoners are moved to town. Children are in school. Need to have an educated republic to go to the voting booth (Jefferson) and an educated workforce (Franklin). How is this Commission going to organize itself in terms of communication? How are we going to talk amongst ourselves? Can put on MASC website 

    Suggestion that MASC can come up with a template of things that you can investigate in your district to start to then present to commission

    Q: North Shore working group working to try to file another case; have a huge template already laid out; cost of lawsuit is the hold up. What about setting aside rainy day funds?

    Suggestion to start having forums in our towns about this issue

    Recommendation to read this book

    Q: it's a lot of money, but focus on one or two at at time

    Q: issue of students that go to vocational schools outside of district; costs so much more money to spend these students to those schools, not reflected in the budget

    Q: commission is opening it up for change? Going back year by year isn't possible; jam everything while the commission is active

    Charge of foundation budget commission is here

    "ought to be able to slip an entire elephant and two vans in under the tent" of that charge
    Comment from Southern Berkshire of the need for broadband
    Get what we can while we can, but we need to have an ongoing advocacy group after commission is done, both as a larger group and as School Committee
    suggestion that Division chairs have this as a topic that is being discussed, thus able to fight for what our membership wants

    "what if we had a wildly successful commission, what would it look like? What are the commonalities that we have?" Every district is pushed when we try to work with the most challenged students in our districts...children who are struggling the most are helped by any improvement

    Q: scope of commission? "We may not get more money, but what we should push for is intellectual honesty" We may not get more money, but we should at least be honest about what we are and aren't doing.

    When the costs of what we're doing aren't where they should be are brought up to where they should be, that's where the success lies.

    Friday, November 7, 2014

    Unclear on budget authority

    Two cases of Massachusetts towns messing with who had budget authority:

    • In Stoughton, residents are having a special town meeting to remove funds from the school budget, because the School Committee did not allocate the funds the way the town meeting and Board of Selectmen wanted the funds allocated. The School Committee under Mass General Law has the allocation authority, though--not the town meeting and not the selectmen.
    • In Fall River, the city's attempt to withhold $3.1 million was denied by the state as not reoccuring, not one time, costs. The city thus has not met its required level of school funding.
    In related news, I'm still trying to figure out how Dennis and Yarmouth think that they can get PILOT funds from their regional school district. 

    Flu clinic for WPS employees

    Monday, November 10
    2-4:30 pm
    Department of Public Health 
    25 Meade Street

    DESE on overtesting

    This just in from the Commissioner:
    Over the course of the 2014–15 school year, ESE will be conducting a multi-part study of assessment practices in Massachusetts districts. The study includes three components: statewide surveys conducted by ESE and phone interviews and case studies conducted by a research vendor. From Oct. 1-10, superintendents and charter school leaders had the opportunity to participate in a voluntary survey regarding their districts’ assessment practices. Results of that survey are attached. Similar questions are also being asked on the post-event survey from last week's fall summit in order to obtain feedback from a greater variety of perspectives.
    This winter, a research vendor will conduct phone interviews with staff in 40 to 60 districts to learn more about what types of assessments districts require, how much time students spend participating in testing, and how districts schedule MCAS tests. During the winter and spring, the research vendor will also conduct case studies in four districts to create an inventory of assessment practices in each district, analyze the inventory with district staff, and identify potential recommendations and best practices around what an effective, balanced assessment system should look like. Each case study district will receive an individualized report to use as it reflects on and refines its assessment practices. Districts interested in being a case study participant should contact Carrie Conaway, Associate Commissioner for Planning, Research, and Delivery Systems, at cconaway@doe.mass.edu.
    As DESE generally doesn't post these updates until Monday, I've put the results of the survey here.

    Proposed new math curriculum for the Worcester Public Schools

    As you may know, the math curriculum for Worcester has been in the process of being reviewed for a number of years. At our last meeting of Teaching, Learning, and Student Supports on September 2, administration presented a PowerPoint about the K-6 material options that were compared last year. The materials were not at the meeting.
    After that,  the following motions passed:
    Request that the Standing Committee approve the Administration’s recommendation to adopt “Go Math” to be implemented as a systemwide pilot program for 2014-15.
    Request that the Administration report back to the Standing Committee on Teaching, Learning and Student Supports, at the conclusion of the pilot program, as to whether or not “Go Math” should be recommended for adoption by the School Committee.
    On last night's agenda, we were asked to pass a contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a period of six years and $1.8 million. Per MGL Chapter 71, Section 50:
    A change may be made in the school books used in the public schools by a vote of two thirds of the whole school committee at a meeting thereof, notice of such intended change having been given at a previous meeting.
    On my request, it was sent to Teaching, Learning, and Student Supports to be able to see the curriculum itself prior to purchase.
    Because administration would like to have this passed at the next full Committee meeting on November 20, there is a crunch for time. TLSS thus is meeting on Thursday, November 13 at 7:30 AM in the fourth floor conference room in the Administration Building.
    Should you like to see the math curriculum that we are piloting, that, should that pilot be successful, we will be purchasing, please make plans to attend.
    And do get in touch with us should this be of interest.

    Thursday, November 6, 2014

    Where did it go?

    If you're following these: 
    The item on teacher evaluation went to Governance. There is a meeting of Governance scheduled for 4:30 on Monday, November 24.
    The item on overtesting went to Accountability, which does not have a subcommittee meeting scheduled yet. I'll post once we do. 


    O'Connell: Council on Great City Schools
    report indicated that an average student sits for 130 hours of testing over K-12
    10 hours a year
    more in instruction directed towards testing
    real question if we need the scope of tests given
    "very welcome spotlight on the amount of testing that's required"
    areas that we can reduce standardized testing that we have
    refer to Accountability
    Boone: not a member, not sure if they would consider it
    also, what cost would be
    difference between summative and formative assessment
    Novick: amend to strike language on working with Council; refer their report
    take up with item already in Accountability on amount of standardized testing
    items passes as amended

    Site Councils

    O'Connell: does administration intend to provide the report as presented?
    in fact some site councils have not yet been constituted
    Rodrigues: have surveyed all our schools, except two: one this week, one November 10
    reported that they have scheduled throughout the year
    most have a regular schedule
    O'Connell: when are they meeting? Can people who work 9-5 go?
    Rodrigues: schools vary; they have surveyed their composition
    O'Connell: when the site council is assembled at 8:30 in the morning are asked when they can meet, those there can meet at 8:30
    will pursue this further independently
    Rodrigues: principals typically survey parents as they are approached to be added to site councils
    Boone: didn't want to give a partial report
    will provide full information

    Novick: have we updated website? We'll check.
    give contact information for representatives on council, as well

    Superintendent Boone self-evaluation

    We've got a PowerPoint which doesn't seem to be online
    Focusing on goals agreed upon with School Committee

    focus on public communication and improvement in positive media reports
    reports in T&G: 36 articles form last year to 86 this past year
    Chronicle and Channel 5 day spent in Worcester
    revising Channel 11 programming this year as part of this work

    2% reduction in the proficiency gap in ELA on 2014 MCAS scores
    grade level professional development for grade 10 and grade 4 (did K-3 and 9 last year)
    did not meet the 2% reduction, but were on target for growth for all students and for several subgroups
    2.7% reduction in the proficiency gap in math
    did not make this goal, but did make on target growth and hit it for several subgroups

    revision of accountability system to align with district improvement targets and practices
    what are the data sets and what are the alignment to focus on raising the bar for our students
    district literacy plan
    Head Start grant attained again
    electronic report card has been developed and is being piloted

    attendence improve 1% from 95% to 96%
    did not meet
    Attendance matters campaign
    individual schools have shown attendance improvements
    "more students are changing in and out" (chronically absent one year but not the other)
    found through deeper data analysis

    exam school presented to School Committee November 20
    in final draft stages

    Teacher Licensure before Worcester School Committee

    Note that this is going to Governance

    EAW president:
    The EAW and MTA strongly oppose any proposal that would tie educator evaluation to licensure
    "We strongly oppose all three models…linking performance to licensure is wrong”
    State’s job is to determine if a teacher qualified
    Overreach by state
    “too many mandates on top of too many mandates”
    Malone has said “trying to drink water from a fire hose”
    Why so urgent to do it at this time?
    Katherine Whalen: “fast pace and we can’t keep up with it”
    Whether you’re an administrator, whether you’re a teacher, whether you’re an IA…
    Quote from Research Bureau “Commonwealth should not rely on test scores for broad systemic outcomes”
    “I would prefer heat at all our…schools, I would prefer paper…our children are on technology all day long…technology doesn’t improve education”
    Caitlin McCarthy: “they’re honestly about money”
    Teachers will start losing their licensures forever
    Creating a churn and burn environment
    “disgrace to allow outside those…who don’t answer to voters to make these decisions”
    O’Connell: particularly germain to a school committee
    Proposal that is the opposite of what is what you and I are used to as lawyers
    License can be ended if particular factors are not in the teacher’s favor at that particular time
    Still a real risk that teachers whose license depends on scores that their students may achieve may choose to work elsewhere

    Teachers may choose to leave the state or may choose to work elsewhere
    Monfredo: agree with tonight’s speakers
    How can anyone connect teacher evaluation to licensure?

    Ask that a letter be sent out to our Commissioner to rethink this proposal

    Novick: need to take this up promptly, as this is moving
    concerns beyond those expressed with barring people from entering the profession; lengthy difficult process
    costly to keep the licenses up

    What was the resolution on PARCC and Common Core

    Yesterday, the MASC Delegates Assembly adopted the following:

    Resolution 7: Passed by the Mass Association of School Committees 11/5/14 (vote of 69-21-3 as amended)

    Whereas many districts have expressed immense concern relative to our state’s evaluation instruments, and
    Whereas assessing student achievement is important to all school districts.

    Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education re-examine Common Core standards and PARCC and conduct further examination of options for a state evaluation and accountability system and to substantially involve educators and school committee members in the process of choosing an assessment instrument, and to refrain from committing to any instrument before this process is complete.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014

    Delegates Assembly at MASC

    Each year, the Mass Association of School Committees has a Delegates Assembly, where all member committees may send a representative. Resolutions proposed by committees or by the board are considered to set the priorities of the MASC for the following year.
    You can find the text of the resolutions proposed here. Most passed either as proposed ((2,3, and 6, which was proposed by Worcester) or with minor changes (1 and 4). Resolution 7 did have a substantive change.
    I won't post on all of the back-and-forth on all of it (which I was involved in, which is why this is a post-post!), but a few things that might be of general interest.
    • Resolution 3 on charter schools calls for strict regulatory action by DESE. 
    • Resolution 6 (put forward by Worcester, among others, on unfunded mandates) had strong support from across the test. I'd say we hit a nerve.
    • Resolution 7 was amended to include the phrase " to re-examine Common Core standards and PARCC" in the directive to DESE. 
    UPDATE: putting text of Resolutions 3, 6, and 7 after the jump:

    On the education front in Massachusetts

    With last night (this morning)'s election of Charlie Baker as the next governor of Massachusetts, a word on the direction we're heading in on education: among the first announcements made this afternoon after Martha Coakley's concession was that of the appointment of James Peyser as transition chair. If you haven't been around Massachusetts for a few decades, the name may be new to you. In Massachusetts, he may be best known for being was chair of the Board of Education from 1999 to 2006.
    It's what he did before that, and what he's done since, that should be of grave interest to public education advocates. Peyser came out of the Pioneer Institute (as did Baker). Currently, Peyser is the manager partner for CityFunds at New School Venture Funds. You can read his latest blog posts here. Per his New School Venture Funds bio:
    In 1995, he served as Under Secretary of Education and Special Assistant to the Governor for Charter Schools. He spent more than seven years as Executive Director of Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, where he helped to launch the Massachusetts Charter School Resource Center, which supported the development of the state’s first charter schools. Prior to joining Pioneer Institute, Jim held various positions at Teradyne, Inc. in Boston, an electronic test equipment manufacturer.asIn his role with NewSchools, Jim currently serves on the board of directors for Achievement First, New Schools for New Orleans, Success Charter Network, and Uncommon Schools. He is also chairman of the board of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA). In June 2011, Jim was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
    I would say that this is indicative.

    MASC conference coming up!

    Fair warning: I'm in Hyannis for the rest of this week (save our meeting tomorrow night) at the annual Mass Association of School Committees conference. Posts to come! Also, tweets from the conference are using the hashtag #MASCcon14
    I'm heading into the Delegates Assembly, where we'll be considering these resolutions

    Tuesday, November 4, 2014

    Election Day!

    "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting." 
    — Franklin D. Roosevelt


    Monday, November 3, 2014

    Worcester School Committee meets Thursday, November 6

    The Worcester School Committee has a regular meeting on Thursday, November 3 at 7 pm. You can find the agenda here.
    After recognitions, we have the Superintendent's presentation of her summative evaluation. You can find the (massive) backup for that here. The School Committee will present their evaluation at the next meeting on Thursday, November 20.
    We have the reports of both the Joint Committee and Finance and Operations. (In both cases, the notes start with that blog post and go forward.)
    We have a response coming back on site councils.
    We have a response on internships.
    We have a response coming back on kindergartners on buses.
    We have several congratulations being offered: students in the Columbus Day art contest; Rob Pezzella for his selection as "Changemaker for Children" from YOU, Inc; for a donation to Norrback Elementary.
    We're sending the city's Byrne grant to Governance.
    We have an item on the proposed changes to the teacher licensure system (on which I have posted at length). Note that right now, the proposal is to send this to the Governance subcommittee.
    Miss Biancheria is asking about MCAS overrides.
    She'd also like a report on coordination with the Department of Public Health on flu and Ebola.
    There's a request for a report on CSX donations on Grafton Hill.
    We have the quarterly special education collaborative report to consider.
    There are several more proposals for congratulations--Burncoat Field Hockey; North High Health Science; South High--all connnected to Channel 5's broadcast here last week.
    Administration is sending an elementary report card item to subcommittee (there's no backup; it's for updates as the pilot rolls forward).
    We're being asked to approve a six year, $1.8 million contract with Houghton Mifflin for the "Go, Math!" program, being piloted this year.
    We are being asked to approve two prior year payments:1,439.86 for an Instructional Assistant and $7,468.00 for an EAW Unit B administration.
    We're being asked to accept a $900 donation from Agriculture in the Classroom to Worcester Tech's Biosphere.
    Mr. O'Connell is sending part of the Council of Great City School's statement around standardized testing to Accountability. 
    Mr. Monfredo would like to congratulate Woodland and Union Hill for receiving the Apple grant.
    Miss Biancheria would like an update on dealing with arrests and youth violence.
    And we're being asked to accept $13,000 from Millbury Savings Bank for Vernon Hill ($5000) and Quinsigamond School ($8000), as part of their five year commitment to those schools.