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General Laws

Section 1I. The board shall adopt a system for evaluating on an annual basis the performance of both public school districts and individual public schools. With respect to individual schools, the system shall include instruments designed to assess the extent to which schools and districts succeed in improving or fail to improve student performance, as defined by 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 one D and one E in the areas of mathematics, science and technology, history and social science, English, foreign languages and the arts, as well as by other gauges of student learning judged by the board to be relevant and meaningful to students, parents, teachers, administrators, and taxpayers.

The system shall be designed both to measure outcomes and results regarding student performance, and to improve the effectiveness of curriculum and instruction. In its design and application, the system shall strike a balance among considerations of accuracy, fairness, expense and administration. The system shall employ a variety of assessment instruments on either a comprehensive or statistically valid sampling basis. 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. Such instruments shall provide the means to compare student performance among the various school systems and communities in the commonwealth, and between students in other states and in other nations, especially those nations which compete with the commonwealth for employment and economic opportunities. The board shall take all appropriate action to bring about and continue the commonwealth’s participation in the assessment activities of the National Assessment of Educational Progress and in the development of standards and assessments by the New Standards Program.

In addition, comprehensive diagnostic assessment of individual students shall be conducted at least in the fourth, eighth and tenth grades. Said diagnostic assessments shall identify academic achievement levels of all students in order to inform teachers, parents, administrators and the students themselves, as to individual academic performance. The board shall develop procedures for updating, improving or refining the assessment system.

The assessment instruments shall be designed to avoid gender, cultural, ethnic or racial stereotypes and shall recognize sensitivity to different learning styles and impediments to learning. The system shall take into account on a nondiscriminatory basis the cultural and language diversity of students in the commonwealth and the particular circumstances of students with special needs. Said system shall comply with federal requirements for accommodating children with special needs. All potential English proficient students from language groups in which English language learners programs established under chapter 71A are offered under chapter seventy-one A shall also be allowed opportunities for assessment of their performance in the language which best allows them to demonstrate educational achievement and mastery of academic standards and curriculum frameworks established under sections 1D and 1E. For the purposes of this section, a “potential English proficient student” shall be defined as a student who is not able to perform ordinary class work in English; provided, however, that no student shall be allowed to be tested in a language other than English for longer than three consecutive years.

The commissioner is authorized and directed to gather information, including the information specified herein and such other information as the board shall require, for the purposes of evaluating individual public schools, school districts, and the efficacy and equity of state and federal mandated programs. All information filed pursuant to this section shall be filed in the manner and form prescribed by the department.

The board shall establish and maintain a data system to collect information from school districts for the purpose of assessing the effectiveness of district evaluation systems in assuring effective teaching and administrative leadership in the public schools. Such information shall be made available in the aggregate to the public; provided, however, that any data or information that school districts, the department or both create, send or receive in connection with educator evaluation that is evaluative in nature and which may be linked to an individual educator, including information concerning an educator’s formative assessment or evaluation or summative evaluation or performance rating or the student learning, growth and achievement data that may be used as part of an individual educator’s evaluation, shall be considered personnel information within the meaning of subclause (c) of clause Twenty-sixth of section 7 of chapter 4 and shall not be subject to disclosure under said clause Twenty-sixth of said section 7 of said chapter 4 or under section 10 of chapter 66.

Each school district shall maintain individual records on every student and employee. Each student record shall contain a unique and confidential identification number, basic demographic information, program and course information, and such other information as the department shall determine necessary. Said records shall conform to parameters established by the department.

For the purposes of improving the performance of school districts and individual public schools and the efficacy and equity of state and federal programs and for the purposes of reducing the amount of paperwork to relieve the administrative burden on local districts, each district shall file with the commissioner once in each 3 year period a comprehensive, 3 year district improvement plan. The plan shall be developed and submitted in a manner and form prescribed by the department of education.

The plan shall, to the extent feasible, be designed to fulfill all planning requirements of state and federal education laws, and shall include, but not be limited to: (a) an analysis of student and subgroup achievement gaps in core subjects; (b) identification of specific improvement objectives; (c) a description of the strategic initiatives the district will undertake to achieve its improvement objectives; and (d) performance benchmarks and processes for evaluating the effect of district improvement initiatives. Also the plan shall describe the professional development activities that will support each district improvement initiative and the teacher induction and mentoring activities that will be undertaken to support successful implementation of the district’s improvement efforts.

On an annual basis, not later than September 1 of each year, each district shall prepare and have available for state review an annual action plan. The district annual action plan shall enumerate the specific activities, persons responsible, and timelines for action to be taken as part of the strategic initiatives set forth in the district’s 3 year improvement plan, and shall identify the staff and financial resources allocated to support these initiatives.

Annually, the principal of each school, in consultation with the school council established pursuant to this section, shall adopt student performance goals for the schools consistent with the school performance goals established by the department of education pursuant to state and federal law and regulations and, consistent with any educational policies established for the district shall assess the needs of the school in light of those goals and formulate a school plan to advance such goals and improve student performance. The school’s plan to support improved student performance shall include, but not be limited to, the same components required for district improvement plans and shall conform to department and district specifications to ensure that such school improvement plans meet state and federal law requirements. Each school improvement plan shall be submitted to the superintendent for review and approval not later than July 1, of the year in which the plan is to be implemented according to a plan development and review schedule established by the district superintendent. Upon request of the school committee, copies of the plans shall be made available to the committee for review in order to ensure consistency with the 3-year district improvement plan and the district annual action plan; provided, however, that the superintendent shall have the final approval authority of all school improvement plans.

The 3-year comprehensive district plan, annual district action plan and annual school improvement plan shall replace any district and school plans previously required under the education reform including, but not limited to, the school improvement plans required by section 59C of chapter 71, the provisional educator program plan required by section 38G of chapter 71, the professional development plan required by section 38Q of chapter 71, the curriculum accommodation plan required by section 38Q1/2 of chapter 71, the MCAS success plan, if any, required under this section and any other report or plan called for by the General Laws or regulation, which, in the professional opinion of the commissioner, would be most effectively presented as part of the coordinated district or school plan for improving student achievement. The department shall identify any additional reports or plans called for by any general law or regulation which can be incorporated into this single filing in order to reduce paperwork and eliminate duplication.

Each school district in which more than 20 per cent of the students score below level two on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam, in this paragraph called MCAS, shall submit an MCAS success plan to the department. The plan shall describe the school district’s strategies for helping each student to master the skills, competencies and knowledge required for the competency determination described in subparagraph (i) of the fourth paragraph of section 1D. The department shall determine the elements that shall be required to be included in such plan. These elements may include, but are not limited to, the following: (a) a plan to assess each student’s strengths, weaknesses and needs; (b) a plan to use summer school, after school and other additional support to provide each child with the assistance needed; and (c) a plan for involving the parents of students as described in said subparagraph (i) of said fourth paragraph of said section 1D. The department shall examine each district’s plan and determine if it has a reasonable prospect of significantly reducing the school district’s failure rates. The department shall coordinate oversight of the MCAS success plans with existing audit and oversight functions and with the MCAS grant program.

Each school district shall file a report with the department every year by a date and in a format determined by the board. Said report shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) an outline of the curriculum and graduation requirements of the district;

(b) pupil/teacher ratios and class size policy and practice;

(c) teacher and administrator evaluation procedures;

(d) statistics, policies, and procedures relative to truancy and dropouts;

(e) statistics, policies, and procedures relative to expulsions and in-school and out-of-school suspensions;

(f) percent of school-age children attending public schools;

(g) racial composition of teaching and administrative staff;

(h) enrollment and average daily attendance;

(i) the annual budgets and expenditures for both the district and the individual schools in the district.

Each school district shall file a description of the following instructional procedures and programs with the department every year:

(a) art and music programs;

(b) technology education;

(c) programs for gifted and talented students;

(d) adult education programs;

(e) library and media facilities;

(f) condition of instructional materials including textbooks, workbooks, audio-visual materials, and laboratory materials;

(g) types and condition of computers and computer software;

(h) basic skills remediation programs;

(i) drug, tobacco and alcohol abuse programs;

(j) multi-cultural education training for students and teachers;

(k) global education; and

(l) nutrition and wellness programs.

Each school district and charter school shall file an annual report for the current school year regarding implementation of chapter 71B with the department every November 1 first in a format determined by the board. The report shall include, but not be limited to, the following:—

(a) the number of children receiving services pursuant to said chapter 71B within each disability category as set forth in section 1 of said chapter 71B;

(b) the number of children, by grade level, within each such disability category and the costs of services provided by each such category for such children receiving their education in a publicly operated day school program;

(c) the number of children, by grade level, within each such disability category and the costs of services provided by each such category for such children receiving their education in a private day setting;

(d) the number of children, by grade level, within each such disability category and the costs of services provided by each such category for such children receiving their education in a private residential setting;

(e) the number of children who remain in the regular education program full time; the number of children who are removed from the regular classroom for up to 25 per cent of the day; the number of children who are removed from the regular classroom between 25 and 60 per cent of the day;

(f) the number of children who are placed in substantially separate classrooms on a regular education school site;

(g) the number of children, ages three and four, who are educated in integrated and separate classrooms; and the assignment by sex, national origin, economic status, race and religion, of children by age level to special education classes and the distribution of children residing in the district by sex, national origin, economic status, race and religion of children by age level; and

(h) the number of children, by grade level, receiving special education services who have limited English proficiency.

Each school district and charter school shall furnish in a timely manner such additional information as the department shall request.

Each school district shall furnish to the department in a timely manner such additional information as the department shall request.

Each school district required to provide an English language learners program under chapter 71A shall file the following information with the department annually:

(a) the type of English language learners programs provided;

(b) with regard to limited English proficient students (i) the number enrolled in each type of English language learners program; (ii) the number enrolled in English as a second language who are not enrolled in another English language learners program; (iii) the results of basic skills, curriculum assessment, achievement and language proficiency testing, whether administered in English or in the native language; (iv) the absentee, suspension, expulsion, dropout and promotion rates; and (v) the number of years each limited English proficient student has been enrolled in an English language learners program;

(c) the number of students each year who have enrolled in institutions of higher education and were formerly enrolled in an English language learners program;

(d) the academic progress in regular education of students who have completed an English language learners program;

(e) for each limited English proficient student receiving special education, the number of years in the school district prior to special education evaluation and the movement in special education programs by program placement;

(f) the number of limited English proficient students enrolled in programs of occupational or vocational education;

(g) the name, national origin, native language, certificates held, language proficiency, grade levels and subjects taught by each teacher of an English language learners program, bilingual aides or paraprofessionals, bilingual guidance or adjustment counselors and bilingual school psychologists;

(h) the per pupil expenditures for each full time equivalent student enrolled in an English language learners program;

(i) the sources and amounts of all funds expended on students enrolled in English language learners programs, broken down by local, state and federal sources, and whether any such funds expended supplanted, rather than supplemented, the local school district obligation; the participation of parents through parent advisory councils; and

(j) whether there were any complaints filed with any federal or state court or administrative agency, since the program’s inception, concerning the compliance with federal or state minimum legal requirements; the disposition of such complaint and the monitoring and evaluation of any such agreement or court order relative to such complaint.

Said information shall be filed in the form of the total for the school district as well as categorized by school, grade and language.

The commissioner annually shall analyze and publish data reported by school districts under this section regarding English language learners programs and limited English proficient students. Publication shall include, but need not be limited to, availability on the department’s worldwide web site. The commissioner shall submit annually a report to the joint committee on education, arts and humanities on such data on a statewide and school district basis, including, but not limited to, by language group and type of English language learners program.

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