SECTION 1. Chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following section:-
Section 37. (a) Notwithstanding subsection (i) of section 1D, for the school years beginning in the fall of 2020 through the school year ending in 2023, the requirement that a student must demonstrate mastery of a common core of skills, competencies and knowledge as measured by Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System or any other named statewide standardized assessment shall not be required as a condition for high school graduation.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of any general law, special law, regulation, or collective bargaining agreement to the contrary, the results from student learning measures that inform the educator plan or self-assessment shall not be used, in whole or in part, in an educator’s formative evaluation, formative assessment, or summative evaluation for the four academic years from the effective date of this act.
(c) The department shall not implement or use the mandated state standardized assessment to satisfy the accountability provisions of section 1J or section 1K, for the school years beginning in the fall of 2020 through the school year ending in 2023.
SECTION 2. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall submit to the United States Department of Education a request that the Commonwealth’s statewide assessment, accountability and reporting requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act be waived for the 2020-2023 school years. The request shall be made pursuant to section 8401 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and shall include a request to waive the assessment requirements in section 1111(b)(2); the accountability and school identification requirements in sections 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D); and the report card provisions related to assessments and accountability in section 1111(h).
SECTION 3. (a) There shall be a special commission on the school and district evaluation system, assessment instruments, and requirements regarding underperforming schools and school districts. The commission shall review the performance, efficacy and impact of the state’s school and district evaluation system, including indicators, the framework and the process used to evaluate school and district performance, including, but not limited to, district and school goals, availability of programs, assessment instruments used to measure academic progress indicators of academic, social, emotional and physical health of students and staff, opportunities for instruction in civics, arts and creative expression, communication and social skills, racial and social equity, and level of resources provided.
The house and senate chairs of the joint committee on education or their designees shall serve as co‐chairs. A third co-chair will be selected by commission members at their first meeting from among the commission’s membership. Additional commission members will include the commissioner of elementary and secondary education; the commissioner of early education and care; the speaker of the house of representatives or designee; the president of the senate or designee; the minority leader of the house of representatives or designee; the minority leader of the senate or designee; and one member to be appointed by each of the following organizations: Massachusetts Association of School Committees, Inc.; Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, Inc.; Massachusetts Teachers Association; American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts; Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, Inc.; Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools, Inc.; Massachusetts Parent Teacher Association; Massachusetts State Student Advisory Council; Massachusetts Association of Bilingual Education; Multicultural Education, Training, & Advocacy; NAACP Boston; Citizens for Public Schools; Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment; Urban League of Massachusetts; Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts; Massachusetts Asian American Educators Association, Gaston Institute of University of Massachusetts Boston; Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance; Sociedad Latina; Massachusetts Advocates for Children; and Trotter Institute of University of Massachusetts Boston.
The commissioner of elementary and secondary education shall furnish reasonable staff and other support for the work of the commission, including administration of the grant program established in subsection (b). The special commission shall be guided by the original language of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, Chapter 69, Section 1I, including the following language, “Such instruments shall be criterion referenced, assessing whether students are meeting the academic standards described in this chapter. As much as is practicable, especially in the case of students whose performance is difficult to assess using conventional methods, such instruments shall include consideration of work samples, projects and portfolios, and shall facilitate authentic and direct gauges of student performance.” Prior to issuing its recommendations, the commission shall conduct not fewer than 8 public hearings across regions of the commonwealth, invite in expert speakers on alternative forms of state assessment and accountability systems other than standardized testing, and review reports, and recommendations from the school district task forces created in subsection (c&d). The special commission shall make recommendations, including proposed amendments to sections 1I, 1J and 1K of chapter 69 of the General Laws. The special commission shall file its recommendations, together with drafts of legislation necessary to carry those recommendations into effect, with the clerks of the senate and house of representatives on or before December 31, 2022.
(b) For each of the three years that MCAS testing is not administered, each district shall be responsible for conducting diagnostic testing of students in grades 3-8 and 10 in English language arts and mathematics to assess grade-level proficiency, with data dis-aggregated by race, Title I status, English learner, and disability. Diagnostic tests shall be selected or developed by individual districts. Districts shall be required to report the aggregate and dis-aggregated by group results of their diagnostic testing to the department of elementary and secondary education by June 30 of each of the three years.
(c) The commission shall create a grant program within 90 days of the enactment of this act to support the establishment of no more than 25 district or consortia of districts task forces to develop and pilot school and district evaluation models. The purpose of the grant program is to enable educators, students, parents and local districts to establish a vision and goals for their public schools; to determine how best to evaluate whether or not their vision and goals are being met; and to identify what resources are needed to realize those goals. The further purpose of the grant program is to provide the commission established with locally informed, practical information and feedback to inform its work, findings and recommendations. The commission shall approve all grant decisions related to the program, which shall be administered by the department of elementary and secondary education. Grants to school districts, not to exceed $50,000, shall be funded from the 21st Century Education Trust Fund.
(d) A school district or district consortia task force on assessment shall be formed at the local level in no more than 25 public-school districts or consortia of districts. The participating school districts and consortia shall include districts from each region of the state and include regional school districts, economically disadvantaged school districts as defined in section 3A of chapter 23A of the General Laws and school districts with a significant population of English language learners as defined in subsection (d) of section 2 of chapter 71A of the General Laws.
Each task force shall be co-chaired by the superintendent or designee, and the president of the authorized collective bargaining agent representing licensed educators or designee. In addition to the co-chairs, the task force composition shall consist of no more than nine members of the community, parents, school staff including administrators and educators, and students as appropriate. The task forces may convene within 30 days of notification by the department that a grant has been awarded to the district.
Each task force shall annually report on its progress to the department of elementary and secondary education, which shall furnish the reports to the commission.
(e) The department of elementary and secondary education shall submit a preliminary report on the status of the grant program, progress of applicants and assess the need for increased funding after the initial application cycle to the commission to inform its work and recommendations.
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