Friday, November 27, 2020

November Board of Ed: later blog

 Duty called elsewhere on Tuesday, and thus, you get this much later

The agenda is here; the livestream is here.

parent from Acton speaking about her son; "the school really was for other kids, not him"
"I feel bad for children like him who don't have private school as an option"
report recommends all teacher receive training in gifted education
"we were able to save my son before irreparable harm was done" but tens of thousands of other students are not 

another: goals for 2020 unveiled in 2008; have forgotten that gifted students are part of the "all"
sadly, it appears the state is continuing its hands-off approach to these students

Brockton 8th grade math teacher: have been fortunate to work with many extraordinary students of color, many of who tell me that I am their first teacher of color
edInquiry: improve the math knowledge of our students
advanced children, especially those of color, are often overlooked, often for things like past behavior
"math is all around them at all time"
students sitting in classrooms with teachers that don't look like them
8th grader from Revere: have always enjoyed school and learning
"Biggest Winner Math Challenge" over the summer
"math is something I have always enjoyed"
put in groups who are advanced in mathematics
"my school has classes for advanced classes"
"you could be anyone...all that matters is that you wanted to be challenged"
8th grade student from Brockton: "how math can be used in the real world"
students that are Black and Latinx who are interested in mathematics
"I was amazed that the program at fourth graders who knew as much as I did"
increases your math skills by applying critical thinking
"trying to find more friends like me can be very difficult" but this program made me realize there are many students like me across the state

Christine Spellman, graduation coach, Springfield
"to be a voice for fully remote schools across the state"
testing schedule is a logistical nightmare for fully remote schools
suggests new administration may grant waiver: postpone until new admin in office and students back in buildings
transportation, proctor, lost instruction, timing, 
adding another layer of stress at a vulnerable time
have not been together with our students for eight months; struggling to connect with students as they are dealing with the world in front of them
"please do not add more stress and inequities to our urban districts"

vocational schools:
Superintendent of Essex North Shore: speaking to the expansion of vocational programs
vocational schools are not the 1970's trade schools that "some still want them to be"
only 25% of programs don't require additional education to get beyond entry level
all programs allow students to enter workforce upon graduation
"we want more for them than entry level jobs"
"I state emphatically that it is a disservice" to send students who will not go to college to vocational schools
annually have seen 1300 applications for 400 slots; have partnered with Gloucester schools and local union; started by 8 11th graders; now in year two with 47 students in an "after dark" program
"it is clear that our model works for students"
is committed that no student should be denied access to high quality vocational education
graduate of Greater Lawrence Technical: core skills were developed at Greater Lawrence for the small business she runs
able to make a clear decision regarding career path
now a business owner with children, soon to open to bistro in Lawrence
"hope to pass our love for food onto our daughters"
stay in the chosen field of hospitality
and she brought them desserts!
student from Beverly; junior in auto collision repair after school at Essex Tech
saw "as the only open door to change my life"
since I have joined this program, "the way I see cars in my head has changed"
"I actually see myself being able to provide for myself and my mother in her old age"
Superintendent, Monty Tech: have seen interest in our school rise over time
not able to accept all students due to building and program space; 18 cities and towns, 63% not from Fitchburg and Leominster, the two cities
not the case the students have to have all A's and perfect behavior records to be admitted (scored as low as 46 admitted...I don't know what this means)
22% of students Title 1 qualified (I think she said; is that reflective of the 18 cities and towns?)
establishing after school programs in several towns
over 1700 adults in evening programs

Chair Craven welcomes Jasper Coughlin, senior at Billerica High, new student member
performance eval: Morton, Craven, Fernández

Secretary Peyser: do just want to reiterate what Goveror Commissioner, and I have been saying "really since last summer
"even more self-evident" that even despite COVID, students need to be in school as much as possible
this isn't "self-evident" at all, and he cites no sources here
"quality and quantity of learning online is falling far short of what happens in the classroom"
Quantity of live interaction, perhaps, though I wonder if they've done a true one-to-one comparison with hybrid models. Quality, though, they have absolutely no idea, as they have not visited classrooms this year (beyond the Governor's press bit in Carlisle), nor do they have access to the online instruction. He legitimately does not know this, nor does the Department
younger and high needs students, growing problem 
know that higher income families can support
gaps getting bigger "not smaller"
social emotional needs of students...he doesn't cite anything here other than concern
"growing body of evidence that schools are not a source of COVID spread" when protocols are followed; "this is true even in communities with higher case loads"
This is false
model testing units, rapid test kits, contact tracing efforts should give parents, staff "further comfort"
he...really doesn't know how any of those are working, does he
"increasing clear that greater risk can be related to at-home environments that aren't always as well supervised or as full compliant with health and safety protocols as schools are"
that is what paternalism looks like
"bottom line is we need to redouble our efforts to reopen classrooms for in-person learning"
"At the same time, we must also stay the course on administering statewide assessment next spring, to ensure we get accurate, on student learning and student learning loss during this unprecedented school year"
"accurate" and "timely" are interesting descriptors to use here

Commissioner Riley: welcomes Jasper

Chair Craven: taking agenda item 5 on educator licensure out of order so Moriarty can be there for it
Riley: flexibilities for schools to deal with the pandemic
allowing for additional time for a teacher to teach outside of certification field and changing length of time for someone to be considered a long-term sub
Hills: long-term substitutes not day-to-day?
Riley: yes, long-term substitutes
West: change only for this current academic year?
West: will there be a chance to learn about merit of flexibility going forward? How these teachers "are performing"?
Peske: RFP for research on alternatives to MTEL, included in that emergency licensure; will depend on proposals received and funding

back to Riley's report on reopening: DESE has continue to inform schools about developments in COVID-19
examples: rapid test for symptomatic people; MA to obtain 2M tests
schools continue to follow DESE order on masks, as schools are sector-specific guidance
"prioritize in person learning across all color-coded categories"
grey, green, yellow "learning in-person if feasible"
red to prioritize high needs students
highest levels of concern--"for example, Lawrence and Chelsea"--DESE "will work with local health officials" 
"fully remote instructional models obviously should only be implemented as a last resort"
high school senior educator internship project placed in an elementary, middle or learning pod; in hopes that they'd want to become teachers

and on to talk about enrollment--and they posted the presentation!
Russell Johnston:
DESE is collected ongoing; it gets pushed out from districts from DESE
asked to certify their October 1 data (though the state gets ongoing updates before and after)
high level overview of changes, as there are some to explore
major one is drop in enrollment: last year 948,828 students; this year 911,432 students, a drop of 3.94%
drop of 0.25% and 0.29% in previous two years, thus out of proportion
46% of that decrease comes just from preK and kindergarten
swiping the DESE chart here:

PreK has decreased by 17.9%, compared to a decrease in grades 1-12 of 2.4%
Where did they go? in-state private/ out of state private or public/ homeschooling
those were consisted in past years, but this year are larger:

Out of state public/private fairly constant, but large jumps in both private and homeschool;
the subgroups look like this:

The first time, more than 50% of our students are high needs
hm, no racial demographic data

Peyser: "losing about 3000 students per year"
We obviously see a drop of 37,000 or so this year
about 13,000 additional students in private or homeschool
about 17,000 fewer preK and kindergarten
Gap of 7000 or so students; any sense of level of concern "are just kind of missing or are effectively truant?"
Johnston: being truant would actually show up here; students that just aren't participating are enrolled
are pretty capable to tracking students within our own state
harder to track students out of state, or if they haven't told us where they're going
definitely hearing of students who are moving out of state
students who are wanting to stay in one district while living in another through remote learning
students perhaps moving out of state and out of country and a lack of information to school district
as well as students wanting to stay in a district through a remote model
Moriarty: community preschool?
Johnston: district-served programs only
Moriarty: deferring K or preK? sense is there's greater access in urban areas
interaction with economically disadvantaged
Johnston: important to follow up by grade level over time
Riley: loss here is preK and K and we expect that they will be back next year
Hills: changes in middle and high school grades, seeing any variation by type of community?
Johnston: earliest that we've ever published this data, still more to look at further
Morton: poverty impacts all families regardless of race and ethnicity, fair proportion are students of color
need for diversifying the workforce as much as we can; applaud plans for internships for seniors
mentors for younger students and high school students; tremendous impact
Fernández: when might we be able to get into a deep dive of the data?
particular communities and broken down by race and ethnicity
Johnston: looked at the beginning of the conversation
Fernández: how we get kids back and how we address the learning needs of those who might not be in the system right now
Stewart: specifics around the areas you've race, and the usual breakdown here
Specific data in districts to show the largest concentrations of where these enrollment losses are largest
does any particular district show less than 90% "things like that"
Moriarty: were some districts opening only in lower grades, interest in attendance and engagement with the schools
"My sense...this goes to what Secretary Peyser, they're suffering much less learning loss" and help us have a deeper understanding
Lombos: would like a visual: a map of the state and where some of those things might be "so we can kind of click on it...that distribution would be very helpful, I think"
Stewart asks about testing: Johnston were conditions districts had to meet, and prioritized districts providing in-person learning
since that initial announcement, many other districts asked; "we do not want to be the least bit bureaucratic about this"
have further opened the possibility; "have, I think, a very healthy number of districts participating in this first phase"
there's also a study being done right now in Massachusetts could be used for others (right now it is only for symptomatic individuals), which could inform future phases as well
Stewart: just have to note, "as the Secretary pointed to encouraging folks to stay home when they don't feel well" but asymptomatic people are all around us, especially in schools
"We're doing the best we can, I suppose, but there's a lot of need here for increased testing of all kinds"
Johnston: look at working out a lot of the logistical issues around testing as well
Craven: October 1 numbers set funding policy discussions around them
won't know until next November how that number is going
"going to be a full year before we really understand who re-enrolled, assuming there is a return to some sort of normalcy"
"cautious about policy decisions that will be interpolated based on the various subgroup levels, as well"

I should note that this is not part of the above presentation and he is sharing no actual data
very concerning data on emergency room visits, mental health visits are skyrocking
"we're just seeing a huge spike in mental health issues taken place"
in the process of compiling learning time data to make sure schools are connecting with students, particularly in remote, but also in hybrid, are connecting students to adults on a regular basis
"so that we can try to mitigate some of this depression and isolation among children"

gifted education update
Useful quote from that report:

...the Council has spent considerable time interrogating what is meant by “high potential,” while exploring how systemic barriers have limited access to educational opportunities for many lower income students and students of color capable of advanced school work. The Council is committed to making recommendations that support equity, especially racial equity, in a real and meaningful way.
Rodriguez: work that has been since the report was released on gifted education in 2019
putting together a group to look at assessment of giftedness: who are we talking about, most effective way of collecting data, what are best practices
Gifted and Talented Education Advisory Council: reformed Board's advisory council
"something that is both the definition and the concepts"
advisory councils usually meet quarterly to give feedback to the Board; this one meets monthly, with subcommittees that meeting in between meetings of all: definition of giftedness; gifted information session; educational models; teacher and parent training; goals and timelines
address inequitable access about programs and services
Bob Lee: excellence gap
Usually you're dealing with things longer term in research
while we're watching kids the most closely, we're seeing gaps grow the most
only seeing a quarter of the students who are identified as gifted "just by one standard"
only 20% of the African American and Hispanic kids that used to be advanced in 3rd grade are still in advanced in 6th grade
"only a quarter of these kids are making it through"
"the results are fairly predictable"
program directly to address the shortcomings where kids were getting lost when it has to do with math
Tyrone Mowatt, Founder of Ed Inquiry, how many of these advanced learners of colors lose their standing by the time they reach the sixth grade
with this loss, where will the Commonwealth find the diverse professionals needed?
far too few in Massachusetts to meet the needs of schools, hospitals, courts, and government
pipeline starts in our public schools
what will the future look like, then? 
must act with a sense of urgency 
real world strategies that can be used to close the excellence gap, approaches that can scale, identify students across the Commonwealth, new methods of learning  "work that affirms them, that is relevant to them", focus on building community among students across districts, "children learn from who they see" interact with teachers of color
116 students in total, rising fifth through rising eighth graders during August for 1-1.5 hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; Thursday also for The Math Game Party
cohorts of 10-15 students 
online self-paced tools used in the evenings; foundational concepts and stretch
helped them to see that they were not alone
relevant real world contexts: math is not a distant concept to be learned to simply pass a year end test
introduced to close skills gaps
more work needs to be done to ensure the outreach is welcomed and trusted
reputation of districts and schools seeking diverse candidates matters
"cultural diversity efforts are not the outcomes of a few hours of training"
many challenges faced by educators during the pandemic
were able to deliver authentic remote learning that truly delivered in a matter of days, not weeks or months
"social emotional learning has become a native" need of learning
able to connect learners from Methuen to Springfield
"they talked, they laughed, they did math"
Rodriguez: Identify what data sources we have and how that can be shared
biggest cost driver was staffing
Lee: "a little over $1000 per pupil for a four week program"
Hills: districts taking responsibilities for gifted students?
Rodriguez: work of council is partly trying to tackle some of these questions
at core, questions are how do we support all learners, students who are demonstrating that they are advanced, that they can meet the classroom standards and well beyond
other definitions beyond academic
would say that we don't need to meet for a statewide definition to meet the needs of all learners
"some things that we can do as a state, just recognizing that a lot of those decisions are then made at the local level"
Stewart: how long is the council planning to meet monthly?
Rodriguez: for the full year and beyond if needed
intent is to meet when usual council reports are brought forward
Stewart: why not voting on charge?
Riley: need to be respectful of input from everyone
Stewart: approve the Council's charge
Rodriguez: that's the things we're working on, then will report out to you all on recommendations to that charge
Fernández: thank you for calling out the specific ways you define giftedness and the ways beyond academics
was struck that the objectives of the pilot should apply to all students
how can the Council be thinking about all children in doing this
"I just want to see these connections, because there's so much overlap with what we want for all children"
Moriarty: "I also use MCAS data for what I advocate for"
if the majority of students are not meeting grade level standards, "your core program becomes's a problem of instruction, at the end of the day"
would love to see if the schools that I think they're coming from are the schools they are coming from
"that methodology looks a lot like multi-tiered systems of support" in an accelerated fashion
maybe can be embedded in the classes
Lombos: how incredible this program is
would love to be educated on best practices from other states
how connected these issues are; teacher diversity
"how equity is clearly embedded in all the problems we see here"

MCAS: Riley
cancelled MCAS via waiver
emergency contigencies for seniors to demonstrate proficiency
2300 students earned CD through August
same process for classes of 2021-23 for science only
have been working on assumption that MCAS will go forward
grades 3-8, high school, plus high school retests
"continue to feel it is critical to understand the pandemic's effect on student learning"
for example, "we see that students that are gifted in third grade are no longer gifted in sixth grade"
that is very much not what the data showed: it showed that they were scoring advanced in third grade but were no longer scoring advanced in sixth grade; that isn't a comment on their giftedness
guidance from Fed is not to expect waivers this year "though of course this could change with the change in administration"
continuing to look forward 
"not announcing changes in tests in February through March"
testing that starts in April: exploring at-home "might, and I want to stress MIGHT, be available in specific cases"
limit amount of time each student spends on testing
Lombos: "I really want to just...for the record why there's so much division around's the how it's used...and the trust that they're assessments...I think it's really important to stress that there are other ways that we assess how they're doing in school, and how important it is to try their best...want to be able to evaluate where the gaps are...tests have been used...they're seen as high stakes...but I would like to get to a place where we're actually talking about how MCAS is used" 
"I think it is about that particularly...I would love to have a discussion about how MCAS is used...what we're going to be used if we're moving forward"
"interest in further discussion, an ad-hoc committee, a brown bag lunch"
West: agree the extent to which it is important that we communicate accurate information about the purposes of the assessment in general, and in particular this year"
misperceptions out there, "like the idea that it influences grades in school" (I haven't heard that one)
"glad to hear we're moving forward in a proactive way to administer MCAS to as many students as possible this spring, so we can provide a comprehensive picture of where we are"
"make it as clear as possible to stakeholders" that it's to assess where we are
Hills: "we're going to look at changes only if we have to look at changes"
have a single assessment, that's MCAS, we're moving ahead
"if we go a second year without a common assessment, we have major major issues with the system we have put in place"
"you have districts that want local control, some districts are doing things one way, some are doing it a different way, and some might be doing it a different way for what might be the wrong reason"
"we're not going to know and understand what means in terms educational attainment unless we use a common assessment"
that last isn't actually true, of course: educational attainment goes far beyond a single assessment, which was the point being made by Lombos, for one
"So I'm just going to say again, I appreciate every last word of what you said"
Stewart: glad Lombos brought it up, there is a lot that is said about MCAS, and there is a lot of emotion around it, if we can communicate the use of MCAS, we should be doing that
So much of what is said is that it is used not just as a common assessment, but an assessment of economical inequality, certainly we have added the piece around graduation, look forward to the issues around it
Fernández: parents and families have never been more engaged than now in the education of their children
making sure we have the consideration of being very clear of what it will be used for
particular stakeholder group, "I want to understand as well"
glad to hear there is discussion in the Department "particularly around COVID" that there is discussion of alternative approaches and ways in which we will do so
want to know about learning loss, welcome data
"want to make sure we again are very clear about the purpose and intent and how data will be used and that in turn is very clear to our families as well
"there's a lot underneath what the approaches are"
logistics, children who don't yet have a computer, want to understand how all that will be communicated out
Rouhanifard: echo conversation around use of data
when he was superintendent, at peak of opt-out movement, went to every single school to have conversations in a town hall setting about what the test entailed, and it's incredible how much misinformation there was out there
"I am a big believer in tests being used to inform the decisions we make at a systems level"
especially in the midst of a pandemic, and the learning loss we know is happening, to understand how that has played out among different district types, learning types
very thoughtful approach, reduction in the time to get "the bare minimum baseline data across the Commonwealth"
Moriarty: "I've defended MCAS in public forum as far back as twenty years ago, and I wasn't always treated very kindly for it, either"
some objections to MCAS have heard for a quarter of a century, start recognizing that this isn't education reform anyway, this is our education system 
there are ways to improve it, but there are also some core principles
"an indispensable transparency that cannot be escaped from"
spent seven of thirteen years of Holyoke School Committee oblivious to how students were doing on core competencies for their whole career
"to know that there were very fundamental problems that were not getting solved year after year after year"
was never told that by any administrators who only talked about incremental gains
and you never asked?
"and you have a ton of work to do and so you move on" um, no. You don't. That would be on the school committee to ask "okay, but overall, what does it look like?" This is the sort of governance that raises red flags, people, and that one ain't on the MCAS.
"I learned I could find out this data for myself, and I never had to be led by the nose by an administrator whose self-interest" led them to highlight bright spots even if there weren't very many
whew. Well. I think this doesn't necessarily have a lot do with MCAS, either.
"believe we do our entire Commonwealth a disservice if we don't find a way to maintain the system and make the best use of it every chance we get"
Coughlin: appreciate the thought and care, agree with use of MCAS
think comparative lack of preparation needs to be a topic of conversation

early literacy: Riley, third grade literacy is flat, really want to take a data driven approach
Peske: Mass Literacy Initiative
clear guidance on evidence-based practice recently launched
some children receiving the support and instruction needed to develop essential literacy skills
52% of third graders met or exceeded reading standards on 2019 MCAS
38% of Black and Hispanic students; 22% of students with disabilities
decades of research demonstrating students can learn to read by the end of first grade if they have appropriate instruction
but do we want them to? is that the right goal?
often don't catch up
information about reading and writing instruction and acquisition
describe such practices and compile resources and references
"a new informative step" as have not provided this sort of guidance before
some things are considered "settled sources"
Filters out non-evidence based resources
hm. This gets back into what is actually DESE's job versus others' jobs, as well as if DESE is a trusted source and deserves to be.
Tarca: Mass Reading Association, teachers/admin/ed preparation faculty, advisory group of local and national literacy researchers
teacher: self-reflection on professional practice
reading taken away by students looking at picture
reading requires intentional instruction, needs to be systematically taught 
I know better now
assistant superintendent: "we cannot intervene our way out of a tier one problem"
Tarca: support being provided schools and districts: grants; online open-source PD, early literacy tutoring services
Peyser: can't tell you how excited I am to hear about the work you're doing
most leverage in terms of overall student learning, but also addressing achievement access learning gaps
"nothing more important that we can do...than to address the challenge of early literacy particularly the way in which reading instruction happens in our schools"
too many educator preparation programs that are not just sending weak messages, but are sending conflicting messages, or trying to creating an inclusive approach that waters down effective practices
"unfortunately there is some ideology in this work"
ensure we are not simply ignoring some of the noise out there
Moriarty: "we know how Massachusetts works, where local control has a lot of sway"
"very persuasive document"

Hills asking if there are any differences between underperforming schools and their districts in their current model: more synchronous learning, for example
What's the role of the Board here?
Riley: Rob Curtin will be able to dive into the underperforming schools versus the district question
reports are between informational and coming up to the Board as questions arise

Bill Bell: budget
unusual budget cycle year, given everything that has happens
Legislature has almost completed work for FY21: House and Senate working in conference committee for gubernatorial review
should happen in next week to two weeks
not that dramatically different: single biggest difference is a House state-funded grant program for COVID-related relief activities
designed to support districts with higher levels of needier students
$25/student + $75/needier students $53M in total
"I suspect that funding will come through"
continue to deliver all other COVID relief we have
sounds like there is still a willingness in Washington, just a question of size
will have a larger impact on '22 than on '21
will begin development of FY22 for the education sector

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