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MA Board of Elementary & Secondary Education Looks at ESSA Implementation

Pupils raising hand during geography lesson in classroom at the

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary & Secondary Education met on September 27th and heard from agency staff on ESSA outreach and implementation. In materials made public for the meeting, the Department published a list of indicators suggested by external stakeholders during outreach performed by the department over the spring and summer. A couple of observations based on comments from board members:

  1. There’s real skepticism about the implementation timeframe. DESE’s current plan is to join the first group of states submitting their accountability plan to the US DOE in March 2017. Board chair Paul Sagan wondered whether it was likely this would be delayed based on the task the US DOE faces putting final regulations in place. Board member Margaret McKenna noted that she led the Clinton administration education transition team and it was highly unlikely that an incoming administration would be in a position to manage this process within the constraints of the current timeframe. Commissioner Chester noted that it was possible that they could submit the basic components of a plan in March and amend the plan up until the final July deadline.
  1. Board members shared a variety of perspectives. The board conversation reflected the diverse viewpoints of education leaders generally when it comes to next generation accountability. Roland Fryer pressed the agency to think about post-secondary success measures, such as remedial coursework. He also thought measures of social-emotional skill development deserve consideration. Mary Ann Stewart also called for attention to social-emotional skills. Ed Doherty noted that there was no discussion of poverty, and questioned whether the approach would continue to produce a list of urban zip codes. 
  1. Chairman Sagan pressed for more outreach. The only point Chairman Sagan emphasized was that it is critical that all voices be heard. He urged the department to take their time and develop an ambitious outreach plan, allowing for different ideas to be modeled during the process of developing a new approach.

Meet The Author

Ben Forman

Research Director, MassINC

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