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HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 974        FILED ON: 1/19/2011

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 176


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



Alice K. Wolf


To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act enhancing student opportunity for achievement and results.






Alice K. Wolf

25th Middlesex

Kay Khan

11th Middlesex

Gloria L. Fox

7th Suffolk

Denise Andrews

2nd Franklin

Jennifer E. Benson

37th Middlesex

Frank I. Smizik

15th Norfolk

Carl M. Sciortino, Jr.

34th Middlesex

Tom Sannicandro

7th Middlesex

Ellen Story

3rd Hampshire

Sean Garballey

23rd Middlesex

HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 974        FILED ON: 1/19/2011

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 176

By Ms. Wolf of Cambridge, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 176) of Alice K. Wolf and others relative to reducing the size of certain classes and enhancing student opportunity for achievement and results.  Education. 


SEE HOUSE, NO. 3436 OF 2009-2010.]


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



In the Year Two Thousand Eleven



An Act enhancing student opportunity for achievement and results.


              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

              SECTION 1. Chapter 71 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

              Section 90. Student Opportunity for Achievement and Results

                   (a) Subject to appropriation, the department shall establish a 4 year grant program, Student Opportunity for Achievement and Results (SOAR), to assist schools in reducing class size in grades kindergarten through 3 to a ratio of 1 teacher to 15-18 students, or, where space is unavailable, to a ratio of 2 teachers to 30 students, and to study the effects of class size reduction on student performance.

                   (b) The department shall develop guidelines and regulations for the administration of the grant program in accordance with the following provisions:

                        (1) In order for a school district to be eligible, for this program, 25 percent or more of the district’s students shall be eligible for free or reduced lunch under eligibility guidelines promulgated by the federal government under 42 U.S.C. 1758.

                        (2) In determining which schools within an eligible school district shall implement this program, the district shall prioritize schools that meet one or both of the following criteria:

                             (i) The schools have been deemed underperforming or chronically underperforming, as under section 1J of chapter 69, as so appearing.

                             (ii) The schools have the highest percentage of students eligible for the free or reduced lunch program within the district.

                        (3) All schools that participate shall do so for the full 4 years of the program and shall phase-in the program as follows: In the first year of the program, participating schools will reduce all kindergarten class sizes; in the second year, kindergarten classes will remain at the reduced size and schools will reduce all grade 1 class sizes; in the third year, kindergarten and grade 1 class sizes will remain at the reduced size and participating schools will reduce all grade 2 class sizes; and in the fourth year, kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2 class sizes will remain at the reduced size and participating schools will reduce all grade 3 class sizes.

                        (4) The department shall align and coordinate the grant with other early education efforts in the Commonwealth.

                        (5) Teachers in small-sized classes shall receive training and professional development on instructional strategies to optimize the use of small class size.

                   (c) Grants shall be used to supplement, not supplant, federal, state or local funds for these activities. 

                   (d) Program funds shall only be used for hiring of personnel, professional development, or extra materials for reduced sized classrooms. For the purposes of this section only, professional development may include per diem payments of substitute teachers when they substitute for a small-sized class teacher who is absent in order to pursue professional development in small class instructional strategies.

                   (e) The department shall establish statewide criteria for professional development that would qualify under clause (8) of subsection (b) of section 90 of the general laws, as so appearing. 

                   (f) The department shall assess the efficacy of reduced class size in the early years in enhancing student achievement.

                   (g) The department may allocate a reasonable sum for research, evaluation and administration.

                   (h) The department shall report annually on the status of the program to the joint committee on education by September 1 following each school year of the program.

              SECTION 2. Notwithstanding section 1 of this act or any general or special law to the contrary, the department of elementary and secondary education shall establish and implement a SOAR pilot program, subject to appropriation, for three schools that meet the criteria in subsection (b) of section 1 of this act and that the department deems to be in special need of improving school performance. 

              The purpose and goals of this SOAR pilot program shall include, but not be limited to: (1) establishing a class size of 15-18 pupils in grades K-3, starting with K, as outlined in section 1 of this act; (2) evaluating the efficacy of such a program in reducing gaps in achievement between at-risk and other children; and (3) planning, professional development, and other activities that enhance the capacity of the schools to develop a successful program.

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