Section 1D. The board shall establish a set of statewide educational goals for all public elementary and secondary schools in the commonwealth.
The board shall direct the commissioner to institute a process to develop academic standards for the core subjects of mathematics, science and technology, history and social science, English, foreign languages and the arts. The standards shall cover grades kindergarten through twelve and shall clearly set forth the skills, competencies and knowledge expected to be possessed by all students at the conclusion of individual grades or clusters of grades. The standards shall be formulated so as to set high expectations of student performance and to provide clear and specific examples that embody and reflect these high expectations, and shall be constructed with due regard to the work and recommendations of national organizations, to the best of similar efforts in other states, and to the level of skills, competencies and knowledge possessed by typical students in the most educationally advanced nations. The skills, competencies and knowledge set forth in the standards shall be expressed in terms which lend themselves to objective measurement, define the performance outcomes expected of both students directly entering the workforce and of students pursuing higher education, and facilitate comparisons with students of other states and other nations.
The standards shall provide for instruction in at least the major principles of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Federalist Papers. They shall be designed to inculcate respect for the cultural, ethnic and racial diversity of the commonwealth and for the contributions made by diverse cultural, ethnic and racial groups to the life of the commonwealth. The standards may provide for instruction in the fundamentals of the history of the commonwealth as well as the history of working people and the labor movement in the United States. The standards shall provide for instruction in the issues of nutrition and exercise. The standards may provide for instruction in the issues of physical education, human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome education, violence prevention, including teen dating violence, bullying prevention, conflict resolution and drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse prevention. The board may also include the teaching of family life skills, financial management and consumer skills, and basic career exploration and employability skills. The board may also include in the standards a fundamental knowledge of technology education and computer science and keyboarding skills; the major principles of environmental science and environmental protection; and an awareness of global education and geography. The board may set standards for student community service-learning activities and programs. The board may also institute a process for drawing up additional standards in other areas of education.
Academic standards shall be designed to avoid perpetuating gender, cultural, ethnic or racial stereotypes. The academic standards shall reflect sensitivity to different learning styles and impediments to learning. The board shall develop procedures for updating, improving or refining standards, but shall ensure that the high quality of the standards is maintained. A copy of said standards shall be submitted to the joint committee on education at least sixty days prior to taking effect. The standards shall also include criteria for three determinations or certificates as follows:
(i) The “competency determination” shall be based on the academic standards and curriculum frameworks for tenth graders in the areas of mathematics, science and technology, history and social science, foreign languages, and English, and shall represent a determination that a particular student has demonstrated mastery of a common core of skills, competencies and knowledge in these areas, as measured by the assessment instruments described in section one I. Satisfaction of the requirements of the competency determination shall be a condition for high school graduation. If the particular student’s assessment results for the tenth grade do not demonstrate the required level of competency, the student shall have the right to participate in the assessment program the following year or years. Students who fail to satisfy the requirements of the competency determination may be eligible to receive an educational assistance plan designed within the confines of the foundation budget to impart the skills, competencies and knowledge required to attain the required level of mastery. The parent, guardian or person acting as parent of the student shall have the opportunity to review the remedial plan with the student’s teachers. Nothing in this section shall be construed to provide a parent, guardian, person acting as a parent or student with an entitlement to contest the proposed plan or with a cause of action for educational malpractice if the student fails to obtain a competency determination.
(ii) The “certificate of mastery” shall be based upon a determination that the recipient has demonstrated mastery of a comprehensive body of skills, competencies and knowledge comparable to that possessed by accomplished graduates of high school or equivalent programs in the most advanced education systems in the world. The criteria for a certificate of mastery may incorporate a number of factors which may include, but not be limited to, any of the following: high school graduation standards, superior performance on advanced placement tests administered by the educational testing service, and demonstrated excellence in areas not reflected by the state’s assessment instruments, such as artistic or literary achievement. Eligibility for potential receipt of a certificate of mastery shall extend to all secondary students residing in the commonwealth.
(iii) The “certificate of occupational proficiency” shall be awarded to students who successfully complete a comprehensive education and training program in a particular trade or professional skill area and shall reflect a determination that the recipient has demonstrated mastery of a core of skills, competencies and knowledge comparable to that possessed by students of equivalent age entering the particular trade or profession from the most educationally advanced education systems in the world. No student may receive said certificate of occupational proficiency without also having acquired a competency determination.
Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit a student from beginning a program of vocational education before achieving a determination of competency. Such vocational education may begin at grade nine, ten or eleven. No provision of law shall prohibit concurrent pursuit of a competency determination and vocational learning. There shall be no cause of action for a parent, guardian or student who fails to obtain a competency determination, a certificate of mastery or a certificate of occupational proficiency.
Subject to appropriation, the board shall establish a grant program which shall award grants to school districts for the costs associated with establishing advanced placement courses. The board shall promulgate regulations defining the standards of eligibility and other implementation guidelines.
Subject to appropriation, the board shall establish an advanced placement test fee grant program which shall award grants to school districts for the reimbursement of application fees for students based on financial need in order to assist students with paying the fee for advanced placement tests. The board shall promulgate regulations defining the standards of eligibility and other implementation guidelines for this program.