CPS Hosts New Legislators, Old Friends at Breakfast

Sen. Jamie Eldridge and Rep. Denise Provost sponsored bills supported by CPS. (This and other photos by Larry Aaronson)

CPS board members and others hosted new members of the Massachusetts Legislature and old friends at a legislative breakfast on Feb. 10 near the State House. It was a chance to fill new lawmakers in on CPS’s history and mission and introduce four bills that CPS will be supporting this legislative session.

Four Proposed Bills Would Strengthen Public Education in Massachusetts

by Ann O’Halloran

Citizens for Public Schools is proud to support four bills for this legislative session. They aim to promote and assess 21st century skills, create a just and balanced accountability system, expand and increase the accessibility and fairness of the MCAS appeals process, improve the retention rate of students in charter schools and allow local control over decisions to grant charters.

An Act to improve assessment and accountability to ensure students acquire 21st century skills
Rep. Carl Sciortino and Sen. Jamie Eldridge, lead sponsors

Summary: For students to thrive after they have finished school, they need to be educated with a skill set that prepares them for the many varied challenges in the new economy. This bill supplants the 10th grade MCAS exams with state-developed, end-of-course assessments in math, English, science, and history. Students must pass each of these classes to be determined competent to graduate from high school. Additionally, to ensure that our schools are meeting their obligations to properly educate students, every school must be accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and must renew its accreditation every 10 years. The bill establishes steps to be taken to improve underperforming schools.

An Act to expand access to the MCAS appeals process
Rep. Liz Malia, lead sponsor

Summary: This bill would extend access to the MCAS appeals process to all students and require that students, parents and guardians be given notice of the student’s right to appeal and to have an advocate to assist in the appeal. Appeal would be available after the first MCAS failure (now, three failures are required), prompting collection of the student’s portfolio of class work demonstrating performance and knowledge. The bill maintains graduation standards and requires collection of appeals data.

An Act relative to charter schools
Rep. Frank Smizik, lead sponsor

Summary: This bill would require local approval of Commonwealth charter schools applications in order for funding to come from the local school district.

An Act to improve student retention in charter schools
Rep. Denise Provost, lead sponsor

Summary: This bill would implement some of the recommendations of the Massachusetts Teachers Association 2009 charter school report relating to student retention that would make a more level playing field between district schools and Commonwealth charter schools.

(The report, Charter School Success or Selective Out-Migration of Low-Achievers?, can be found at: www.massteacher.org. )

For more information about these bills, contact Ann O’Halloran, CPS Legislative Chair, at ohalloran.ann@verizon.net.

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