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HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2624         FILED ON: 1/18/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 489

 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

_________________

PRESENTED BY:

Carl M. Sciortino, Jr.

_______________

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 to improve assessment and accountability to ensure students acquire 21st century skills.

_______________

PETITION OF:

 

Name:

District/Address:

Carl M. Sciortino, Jr.

34th Middlesex

James B. Eldridge

Middlesex and Worcester

Sean Garballey

23rd Middlesex

Kenneth I. Gordon

21st Middlesex

Patricia D. Jehlen

Second Middlesex

Mary S. Keefe

15th Worcester

Kay Khan

11th Middlesex

John J. Lawn, Jr.

10th Middlesex

Elizabeth A. Malia

11th Suffolk

Denise Provost

27th Middlesex

Tom Sannicandro

7th Middlesex

Frank I. Smizik

15th Norfolk

Benjamin Swan

11th Hampden

Cleon H. Turner

1st Barnstable


HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 2624        FILED ON: 1/18/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 489

By Mr. Sciortino of Medford, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 489) of Carl M. Sciortino, Jr. and others for legislation to ensure that high school graduates possess a reasonable breadth and depth of knowledge and skills.  Education. 

 

[SIMILAR MATTER FILED IN PREVIOUS SESSION
SEE HOUSE, NO. 1955 OF 2011-2012.]


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
 

_______________

In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen

_______________

 

An Act to improve assessment and accountability to ensure students acquire 21st century skills.
 

              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. Section 1D of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding after the third paragraph the following new paragraph:-

              Before taking effect, the standards shall be reviewed and approved by the state affiliate of the professional association representing the academic discipline, or its successor as the case may be, for each standard as follows: in mathematics by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; in English Language Arts by the National Council of Teachers of English, the International Reading Association, and the National Association of Bilingual Educators; in science and technology by the National Association of Science Teachers, the National Technology Education Association and the Association for Career and Technical Education; in health by the National Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the American School Counselors Association and the National Association of School Psychologists; in the arts by the National Art Education Association, the National Alliance for the Arts and the National Music Educators Association; in social studies by the National Council for the Social Studies, the National Council for History Education and the National Geographic Alliance; and in foreign languages by the National Foreign Language Association.

              SECTION 2. Section 1D of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding after the word “determination” in line 54 the following words:-

              ,according to the evaluation system established by the district or Commonwealth charter school set out in Section 1I of this chapter, 

              SECTION 3. Section 1D of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding after subsection (i), the following new paragraph:-

              To fulfill the high school graduation competency determination, the state shall require students to pass a course in tenth grade English, a math course, a science or technology course, and a U.S. or world history course. The student’s grade in each said course shall include an end-of-course examination developed by the board. Any such examination shall count for no more than twenty percent of a student's final grade in the course and shall have no other consequences for individual students. In any such examination, the state shall ensure that no more than twenty-five percent of the score will be obtained through use of multiple-choice or short-answer items, and at least seventy-five percent of the score in that examination will be obtained through performance assessment items appropriate to the subject. Performance assessment items shall include essays, tasks, projects, performances, exhibits, laboratory experiments, or other similar performance assessment items that are intended in significant part to assess student acquisition of 21st century skills, as defined in Section 1I. Such items may be scored by teachers in the local district where the student attends school. The board shall ensure quality control and comparability of scoring across schools and districts; provided, however, that this may be done by such methods as using a common scoring guide to independently re-score sufficient samples of each assessment from each school or class within a school and then adjusting initial scores as needed to establish comparability. Local school districts may be allowed to use their own assessments and not use the state end-of-course exams; provided, however, that local assessments meet the other criteria in this chapter, are based on state standards and are approved by the department.

              SECTION 4. Section 1E of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following new paragraph at the end thereof:-

              Before taking effect, the standards shall be reviewed and approved by the state affiliate of the professional association representing the academic discipline, or its successor as the case may be, for each standard as follows, as described in Section 1D.

              SECTION 5. Section 1I of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking the first through fourth paragraphs, and inserting in place thereof the following paragraphs:-

              Every ten years all public schools, including Commonwealth and Horace Mann charter schools and Innovation Schools, shall take the steps necessary to become accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, hereinafter referred to as NEASC. The governing school authority, if any, shall take all steps necessary to assist each school in its jurisdiction to achieve such accreditation. If, after four years from the beginning of the accreditation process, a school fails to achieve accreditation, fails to make significant progress toward accreditation, or is placed on probation status by the NEASC, the commissioner may initiate proceedings pursuant to section 1J of this chapter.

              Each school district shall develop and adopt a system for evaluating on an annual basis the overall performance and progress of both the district and individual public schools within the district, including Horace Mann charter schools and Innovation Schools. Each Commonwealth charter school shall develop and adopt a system for evaluating on an annual basis the overall performance of the school. Each local evaluation system shall be designed to help improve the overall quality of the school and district in educating the whole child, assess outcomes and results regarding student learning and progress, improve the effectiveness of curriculum and instruction, and evaluate school climate and parent engagement. This information shall inform the annual school report provided for in Section 6. In its design and application, each evaluation system shall strike a balance among considerations of accuracy, fairness, expense and administration.

              In both district and Commonwealth charter schools, the evaluation system shall include a criterion-referenced local assessment system designed to provide data on student learning.  This system shall also provide evidence on the extent to which the school or district has succeeded in improving or has failed to improve that learning. . Said learning shall be defined as student acquisition of the skills, competencies and knowledge called for by the academic standards and embodied in the curriculum frameworks established by the board pursuant to sections 1D and 1E, in, at a minimum, the areas of mathematics, science and technology, history and social science, and English.. The district may include other gauges of student learning judged by the district to be relevant and meaningful to students, parents, teachers, administrators, and taxpayers, or assess other content areas.

              The local assessment system shall gather and report information about student learning on either a comprehensive or statistically valid sampling basis. It may use a comprehensive basis in some grades or subjects and sampling in others.

              The local assessment system shall be comprised primarily of work samples and portfolios that predominantly include performance assessment items, and shall facilitate authentic and direct gauges of student performance. Performance assessment items include essays, tasks, projects, performances, exhibits, laboratory experiments, or other similar performance assessment items, administered as a school or district-wide on-demand test or as part of the ongoing student work in the class, that are intended in significant part to assess student acquisition of 21st century skills, defined as including the following: creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration. The local assessment system shall also gather evidence of student acquisition of additional 21st century skills including media and information literacy, flexibility, initiative, social and cross-cultural skills and understandings, leadership, self-motivation and responsibility. 

              Each local evaluation and assessment system shall be approved by the school committee, or by the governing board of any school not under the direction and control of a school committee. Every school district or school must submit its proposed evaluation and assessment systems to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for review and approval prior to the implementation of said system. The department shall establish criteria to use in its review and approval process, including the NEASC assessment standards.  It shall promulgate assessment standards to ensure local assessments provide reasonably comparable information about student learning, including 21st century skills, in the areas of mathematics, science and technology, history and social science, and English. Local evaluation and assessment information shall be used in any evaluation of school or district performance or progress.

              In addition, each district or Commonwealth charter school, under procedures and guidelines established by the department, shall administer the following statewide standardized tests as part of its assessment system: reading or language arts tests in grades 3, 5 and 7 only; math tests in grades 4, 6 and 8 only; and the standardized end-of-course assessments described in Section 3. No other statewide standardized tests shall be given and the administration of such statewide standardized tests shall be limited to no more than five school days total in any school year; provided further, that the school, district and individual student scores for any statewide standardized tests must be reported to the school and district no later than the end of the school year in which the test was taken. Said statewide standardized tests shall be used for purposes of diagnosis, remediation, and assessment of the extent to which the school’s students have acquired the skills, competencies and knowledge called for by the academic standards and embodied in the curriculum frameworks established by the board pursuant to sections 1D and 1E. They shall not be used to deny any student graduation, except as included in the competency determination described in Section D, or promotion to the next grade, except as one component of a comprehensive evaluation, or any other benefit of public education. Test scores shall be reported to each student and to his or her parents or guardians and shall be reported in the aggregate at the school and district level. Aggregate scores may be used as one component of any evaluation of school or district progress.

              Prior to the use of any state tests described in the previous paragraph, the tests shall be reviewed and approved by the state affiliate of the professional association representing the academic discipline, or their successors as the case may be, for each test, as described in Section 1D.

              Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, reporting by the department of performance levels on the statewide standardized tests shall not include the term "failing" or any similar pejorative term.

              The department shall provide professional development and training to teachers in the construction, use and scoring of performance assessment items.

              The department shall provide technical assistance to schools and school districts to develop performance assessments, as required by this section, including the development of models for local assessment systems. The department also shall work with schools, districts, colleges and universities, and other states, to develop collections of high-quality performance assessment items that schools and districts may use in classroom instruction and assessment.

              The department shall provide technical assistance to schools and school districts to achieve the accreditation and implement the evaluation systems required by this section, including the development of models for local evaluation systems. The department shall fund the costs associated with achieving and maintaining accreditation by the NEASC, including teacher reassign time, substitute teachers and other staff participation costs associated with the accreditation process, as well as the costs associated with the performance evaluation systems required by this section.

              SECTION 6. Section 1I of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting the following paragraph at the end thereof:-

              Each public school, including Commonwealth and Horace Mann charter schools and Innovation Schools, shall annually report to the public how its students have performed under the assessment system established by the district, or by the school in the case of a Commonwealth charter school. Each district shall report how each of its schools and the district as a whole have performed under the evaluation and assessment systems, and each Commonwealth charter school shall similarly report. The reports shall be in a uniform format within each school district, or within the school in the case of a Commonwealth charter school, and shall break down the data by student status, including economically disadvantaged, race, gender, disability, English proficiency, and such other categories as the district or school deems useful. The school report shall include how each school’s performance relates to its school improvement plan. The report also shall include the schools progress in obtaining or renewing accreditation by the NEASC and results of the statewide standardized test.

              Each district shall compile and review the reports of each school. It shall evaluate the strengths, progress, problems and needs for each school and the district as a whole, and submit a report to the department. Each Commonwealth charter school shall submit its school evaluation report to the department. The department shall review each district and Commonwealth charter school report and where it deems appropriate make recommendations to the district or school and ensure the provision of resources and other assistance designed to help each district or school improve.

              The department shall focus on providing assistance to schools that are not accredited and or schools or districts whose reports indicate a particularly urgent need for assistance. The nature and results of such recommendations and assistance shall be included in subsequent school and district reports.

              These reports may be used as one component of any evaluation of school or district progress, such as that described in Section 1J of this Chapter.

              SECTION 7. The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education shall select a panel of three experts from a list of nationally qualified experts in educational assessment provided by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, and two educators, one an elementary teacher and the other a secondary school teacher, from a list of experienced teachers provided by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the AFT-Massachusetts, to perform a study of the validity, reliability, quality and age and language appropriateness of the statewide standardized tests established in section 1I.  The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education shall enter into a contract on behalf of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, with the selected panel of experts to conduct such a study. The Commissioner and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall assist the panel in obtaining all information, documents or other evidence necessary to conduct the study.

              The findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Commission shall be presented to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and to the Joint Committee on Education. 

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