Tuesday, April 23, 2019

April Board of Ed meeting: opening and public comment

Posting this morning from Newton North High, as this is the annual off-site meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, hosted by the home school of the student member of the Board of Ed, which this year is Maya Mathews, a senior at Newton North. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:30...we're assuming it isn't going to start on time.

New Chair Katherine Craven opening the meeting, a few priorities
efficiency, inter-agency coordination, foster care on front page of Globe today
having done ten state budgets, saw that marbled throughout
have Department be a resource for districts: have heard from superintendents "appreciate the warm hand of the Commissioner"
special education a priority
parents have a lot of thoughts on that
closing achievement gaps and accountability; planning a retreat in the fall to talk about these issues
getting Board close to teachers and students; "taking the show on the road"
go to Holyoke and Revere

MTA President Merrie Najimy testify on 'racially offensive' question
call for end of "MCAS gag rule" and hold harmless of all students taking the test
students and teachers spoke of question
restrictions placed on educators to view the test even during field testing
"results are skewed" as result of test
calls for students to be held harmless this year

student speaking: Bay Path student "were asked to put ourselves in position of a racist woman"
made me uncomfortable completing the rest of the test
"I couldn't even talk to my teacher"
"working on the rest of the test was impossible"
mother: "was in disbelief"
"we're living in tough times, and having this happening makes us wonder, what's next"
Lisa Guisbond, director, Citizens for Public Schools
"but more needs to be done"
"even passing reminders that someone belongs to one group or another...can wreck havoc with test performance"
"a genuine teachable moment about how objectionable questions can slip through"
"agree that the state should hold students harmless based on the tenth grade exam"

AFT President Beth Kontos: asks for all questions every year be released
so they can be reviewed
"so we can help inform you"
end gag order on the test
also concerned about when during high school, in line with history covered by that time

President of the New England Council of the NAACP Juan M. Cofield
asks that MCAS not be scored
puts students at risk of doing less well than they otherwise would have done

and because I find the wifi misinformation campaign to be offensive, here's another round of the actual information

parent speaking of her child's experience and a large number of various charges

on behalf of the Racial Imbalance Council: concerned about proposed move to use disaggregated information of the test
"without ed reform, without MCAS, many of us would not have known how students of color were doing"
only after 1993, did DESE publish how students of colors were doing
"a test is not the only indicator of how our children can do, but without school accountability, we will never know how children are doing"
"right now in school accountability, we have a high needs category"
"we have to be accountable for the outcomes of every single student"
"what I am hoping is the question will not be put aside"
thinks that recent question says so much about what students are not getting in the classroom
experiences of many students daily that speak to the experiences of racism in our country and in our world

Commissioner Riley: thanks hosting community
thanks Maya Mathews for her service
New Bedford City Council vote delayed on procedural grounds

MCAS question: Russell Johnson contacted by Boston superintendent
reviewed question; made decision to pull the question
in addition to assessment development committee, bias and sensitivity review committee
which reviewed three times
"test remains sound, valid, and reliable"
will do a thorough review of the results
Stanford to run an independent analysis
state has a thorough process to review questions
"believe deeply that this question got past us"
looking to see how we can learn from this in the future
will meet with students who raised issue
"we're an education organization and we learn every day"
incidentally, some of us are still wondering what "pull the question" means; does it not count and the number of points changes? does it not get scored but the underlying number of points remains the same?

Secretary Peyser: congratulations to Craven
congratulations Maya Mathews
jokes of "Newton quorum" on Board (not really, but three members)

Stewart would like to know of Board's authorities around MCAS
Craven consults with Riley and speaks of waiting to hear from review first
McKenna: Stanford to do review of impact on rest of test; also think it is important: there's some work being done on alternative assessments on social studies/history assessment
Hills: "I wouldn't get out ahead of ourselves...exactly what the Commissioner should be doing and exactly what the Board should be doing"
Mathews: when will results of review be available? early summer
Moriarty "let's be honest about this; we're talking about this because it got some headlines"
says what is being asked is far beyond the question
have yet to hear enough of students
Morton: question goes to degree to which you're looking at exam? review of full exam for impact
Fernández: learning opportunity; look at what the future is telling us about how we want to assess our students
McKenna: in the end, we're responsible, DESE is responsible for the test, no matter who did the reviewing
Moriarty: don't want to miss this at all
"stepped back and said 'wow that is an excellent question in the right history or literature class'...I wouldn't want any chilling effect on any discussion in the classroom"
Riley: important to take the time to be thoughtful about this
remember the Boston Public Schools before MCAS "and I don't think we ever want to go back there"
has been transparent about looking at other assessments and time spent on it

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