Outside Section 7
Chapter 15 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 55A and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
Section 55A. (a) There shall be an office of educational quality and accountability, in this section called the office, within the executive office of education. The purpose of the office shall be to provide an independent mechanism to verify the efforts of schools and school districts to promote a higher level of academic achievement by students.
(b) Subject to appropriation, the secretary of education shall appoint a director of the office and establish the salary for the director. With the secretary's approval, and subject to appropriation, the director shall employ such inspectors, auditors, professional assistants, attorneys, consultants and other staff as he deems necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the office and shall determine their salaries and duties. Section 45 of chapter 30, chapter 31 and chapter 150E shall not apply to employees of the office. The secretary shall submit to the governor and the secretary of administration and finance a request for the annual appropriation required to carry out the mandate of the office.
(c) The office shall act as an independent auditing body verifying educational measurements and tests conducted by or for the department of elementary and secondary education in implementing the mandates and directives of chapter 71 of the acts of 1993. The office shall perform not less than 24 school district audits annually. Specifically, the office shall have the following duties: (1) verify the accuracy of reports of schools and districts by conducting or contracting for periodic program and fiscal audits as necessary; (2) investigate allegations of any breach of academic integrity in the administration of any assessments administered by the department of elementary and secondary education; (3) undertake inspections of schools and school districts to determine the quality of instruction, the performance of administrative, instructional and other staff and make recommendations about the school and school district goals and performance; (4) review the district's MCAS success plan, if any, submitted to the department of elementary and secondary education pursuant to section 1I of chapter 69 and evaluate the implementation of said plan; (5) review the district's implementation of any MCAS grants received to develop or enhance academic support services for students scoring in level 1 or 2; (6) review the impact of unanticipated growth in enrollments and the cost of special education on municipal education budgets, where applicable including, but not limited to, the impact of said costs on other areas of appropriation within the municipal budget; (7) evaluate the alignment of curriculum and professional development plans with the state curriculum and assessments; (8) review the progress of student achievement.
(d) For the purposes of any inspection, or audit, the director shall have access to all necessary papers, vouchers, books, and records pertaining to a school, including a charter school, a school district, and regional school district. Schools, school districts and school personnel shall cooperate with the director for purposes of any inspection or audit pursuant to this section, including but not limited to, participating in interviews and producing books and documents. The office shall ensure that any instance of noncompliance with the law, misfeasance or malfeasance, shall be referred to the attorney general of the commonwealth and the secretary of education for appropriate action.
(e) The office shall transmit its findings and any resultant recommendations to the governor, the secretary of education, the board of elementary and secondary education, the attorney general, the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives, and the clerk of the house of representatives who shall forward the same to the joint committee on education. The office shall compile these audits and inspections into annual reports. The office may coordinate with the activities of the board of elementary and secondary education to implement section 1J of chapter 69.
This section places the present Office of Educational Quality and Accountability in the Executive Office of Education, to be established as proposed in the Governor's pending reorganization plan.
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