Public Policy Updates: November 2022 Board of Education

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education had their November meeting at 9 am on Tuesday, November 15. The agenda is here; the livestream can be found here.


The only public comment was a panel on gifted and talented students, which the livestream came in midway through. Those speaking said students are "languishing and nothing has improved in their schools." They spoke to ask for an adaptive MCAS and a competency based system of education, spported by a gifted and talented office at DESE.

Chair Craven said that she is planning a retreat for members in January or February.

Commissioner Riley announced that staff and students at schools will be given COVID test kits prior to both upcoming holiday breaks; there will be four tests per person. Riley said that work on MCAS data continues with attention in particular to English learners and boys.Craven said that they will plan for a future meeting jointly with the higher ed board. 
There will be additional information about the work in Boston coming at upcoming meetings; to Vice Chair Hills inquiry regarding the next "deliverables" on Boston, Riley observed that a number had come through over the summer, that there is ongoing work on buses, bathrooms, and others, and that there were be a data report upcoming in February. Regarding the recent single bid that came in for Boston school bus transportation, Hills urged them to go back "up the funnel" as to why the number of those initally interested did not bid. Saying it was something to be considered, Riley said "we, too, were surprised one person bid."

The Board then had a report on the family engagement summit, which had 400 participants representing 29 districts; there were 37 workshops from which to choose. Deputy Commissioner Regina Robinson, Associate Commissioner Rachelle Engler Bennett, and Family Engagement Specialist Olga Lopez spoke about the summit. Member Mary Stewart said,"family a strategy for school improvement; it's a strategy for student success." There was a common theme of wanting families to be at the table with district leadership, comfortable sharing ideas. Members also noted the history of education reform creating school site councils in elevating that partnership. Student member Eric Plankey noted also the legal requirement of student representatives on school committees, hoping that those, backed by the student advisories also required, would be happening in all districts across the state. 

The Board then moved on to their FY24 budget request. Member Mohamed, who chairs the budget committee, noted again that the bulk of the funding that comes to the Department is already earmarked, with the largest amount being chapter 70 aid to districts. She noted that early grade literacy, work on curriculum review and recommended best practices, career and technical education, and multitiered systems of support are priorities being put forward. Regarding the request for gifted and talented funding, she said, "budget committee is not a policy-making committee," and that further discussion about this was something that the Board as a whole should take up. On a unanimous roll call vote, the FY24 budget recommendation was adopted. It goes to Secretary Peyser, who recused himself, through whom, as CFO Bill Bell observed, it will go to "gubernatorial-elect Healey and her team." The incoming governor has until March to submit her budget recommendation.

Next, the Board had a presentation on a recently released report, required by the Student Opportunity Act, on post-secondary enrollment and earnings, which can be found here. Cautioning of the limitations of the report--no directory matching information will ever be perfect, and there are limitations as described on the data used--Rob Curtin noted that this was for public information only; that the Department has no plans for formal or informal accountability purposes at this time. Member West, while cautioning that earnings data is a little unstable in people's early twenties, saw it as an "opportunity to broaden accountability" of secondary schools, noting that this is done in other states. Texas and Louisiana were mentioned. Some states are doing so based on post-secondary enrollment, in some cases taking it a step farther and incorporating remediation. West noted that any such accountability necessarily needs to be based on growth. 

The Board next meets on Tuesday, December 20.