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General Laws

Section 12. (a) The department shall establish a comprehensive system for measuring the performance and effectiveness of programs providing early education and care and services. This system shall include, but not be limited to, outcomes of the kindergarten readiness assessment system and additional educationally sound, evaluative tools or developmental screenings that are adopted by the department to assess developmental status, age-appropriate progress and school readiness of each child; outcomes of evidence-based intervention and prevention practices to reduce expulsion rates; and evaluations of overall program performance and compliance with applicable laws, standards and requirements. If the department determines that a program has failed to meet performance measures, it may impose sanctions that it considers necessary. These sanctions may include, but need not be limited to, probationary status and termination of funding.

(b) The department, with the approval of the board, shall adopt, and from time to time may revise, the rigorous, developmentally appropriate, and educationally sound kindergarten readiness assessment system required by this chapter, including additional tools that the department considers necessary in order to assess age-appropriate progress and school readiness of preschool-aged children. This system shall recognize the unique challenges of assessing preschool-aged children, and shall utilize tools that are reliable, valid and culturally and linguistically appropriate. The department shall align this assessment with its program quality and learning standards, benchmarks, the department of elementary and secondary education’s curriculum guidelines and, where applicable, best practices in the field.

(c) Assessments shall be conducted as much as practicable in the child’s natural setting, and the results of the assessment tests developed by the department shall not be used for high stakes decisions, so-called, about a child’s progress within the preschool environment nor about the child’s transition to kindergarten. Data collected from these assessments shall not be used for the purpose of ranking individual students within a program.

(d) In developing these assessments, the department shall survey all providers in the commonwealth, and as much as practicable, review the major assessment systems in place in other states, in order to determine the most appropriate tools of assessment for the commonwealth. Upon determination by the board that the tools are valid, reliable, and appropriate, the department shall require that every provider in the commonwealth participating in the Massachusetts universal pre-kindergarten program use the assessment tools for the purposes outlined in this chapter. Subject to appropriation, the department shall provide training and professional development to providers to ensure the consistent application of assessment tools.

(e) The comprehensive system for measuring the performance and effectiveness of programs shall be designed to measure the extent to which every preschool-aged child receiving early education and care in the commonwealth through the Massachusetts universal pre-kindergarten program has a fair and full opportunity to reach such child’s full developmental potential and shall maximize every child’s capacity and opportunity to enter kindergarten ready to learn. The comprehensive system shall be designed to include, but not be limited to, measuring a program’s ability to provide: (1) instructional improvement through the provision of instructionally relevant information which guides instructional decision-making; (2) alignment of the preschool’s curriculum with the state learning and program standards promulgated under this chapter; (3) the identification of children in need of additional educational, medical, and human services; (4) communication with parents; (5) preparation of an appropriate kindergarten transition plan for each student under this chapter; (6) program evaluation under this chapter; and (7) the gathering of data for the longitudinal study required by this chapter.

(f) Pursuant to section 11, the department shall establish a comprehensive system for measuring the performance and effectiveness of preschool programs providing early education and care. This system shall include, but not be limited to, outcomes of the kindergarten readiness assessment system required by this section and other educationally sound, evaluative tools that are adopted by the department to assess age-appropriate progress and school readiness of each preschool-aged child and evaluations of overall provider performance and compliance with applicable laws, standards and requirements. The department shall conduct a formal evaluation of all early education and care programs and providers participating in the Massachusetts universal pre-kindergarten program at least once every 2 years. If the department determines that a provider has failed to meet performance measures, or to comply with applicable laws, standards and requirements, it may impose sanctions that it considers necessary. These sanctions may include, but need not be limited to, a probationary period or termination of funding.

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