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Commissioner's Weekly Update - January 11, 2013

Massachusetts is #1 on Education Week's "Chance for Success" Index:

For the sixth year running, Ed Week gives Massachusetts the top scoring grade on its Chance-for-Success index. Go to http://www.edweek.org to see Ed Week's Quality Counts 2013 report.

Gov. Patrick Signs Background Checks Bill:

Governor Patrick has just signed Chapter 459 of the Acts of 2012, "An Act Relative to Background Checks." This new law expands what public, private, and parochial schools, including approved private special education schools and child care facilities, already do in conducting state CORI checks on all employees at least every three years. It creates a one-time national criminal database check for all school employees and contractor employees. All newly hired school employees, including educators, maintenance staff, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and employees of contractors who work in the schools and may have direct and unmonitored contact with children will be required to complete the new national background check prior to the start of the 2013-2014 school year. Volunteers at schools will only need state CORI checks at least every three years as currently required.

For all current K-12 employees, the law directs the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to adopt regulations that phase in national background checks over three years. Unlike state CORI checks that have no associated fee, individuals will pay a fee to comply with this one-time requirement that ranges from $35 for non-licensed employees to $55 for license-holders. Under the law, school districts may pay these fees, if they so choose, and/or reimburse the cost to employees on the grounds of financial hardship. The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security will design the system to meet this new national background check requirement. ESE will provide further information on this new law as it is developed.

Four Model Curriculum Units - Now Available:

As part of our Race to the Top initiative, teams of MA educators are developing more than 100 pre-K to 12 model curriculum units in English language arts and literacy, history/social science, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering. These units are aligned to the 2011 MA Curriculum Frameworks in English Language Arts and Literacy Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document and Mathematics Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document, which incorporate the Common Core State Standards. ESE has released the following four units, located at http://www.doe.mass.edu/candi/standards/, as prototypes for districts to use: Grade 3 ELA/Literacy: Whose Story Is It? The Craft and Structure of Writing about History (Topic - Plymouth) Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document; Grade 6 Mathematics: Ratios and Rates Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document; Grade 8-10 History/Social Science: US Constitutional Rights Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document; and Grades 9-12 Science and Technology/Engineering: Energy-Physics Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document.

Draft Next Generation Science Standards - Your Input is Needed:

Massachusetts is participating in the 26-state initiative to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The second and final public draft of the NGSS is now available for review through Jan. 29, 2013. Your input is critical to ensuring that we adopt revised Science and Technology/Engineering standards that reflect statewide goals for all students. The draft NGSS and survey to submit input can be found at http://www.nextgenscience.org. For more on the MA standards development process, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/stem/review.html.

For Your Info:

  • MCAS Test Administration Workshops: Principals and MCAS test coordinators may register between Jan. 15-30 for test administration workshops scheduled for early February. First-year principals and principals who did not participate in a test administration workshop last year are required to attend. For more info, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=7182.
  • MCAS Retest Results: The Nov./Dec. 2012 MCAS Retest Results will be available beginning on Thursday, Jan. 24 through DropBox Central on the Security Portal. For more info on the release, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=7153.
  • MCAS March Retest Items: Beginning in 2013, ESE will no longer release questions from the March ELA and Mathematics Retests. Concurrent with the release of March retest results, ESE will post a document listing the standards assessed by each question on the tests. The decision to withhold the questions from the March retests will assist ESE in producing high quality MCAS retests in future years. ESE will continue to release all questions from the spring grade 10 tests and the November Retests. If you have any questions, please contact ESE's Office of Student Assessment at 781-338-3625.
  • Career Ladders for Teachers Survey: ESE has developed a survey to ask teachers and administrators for their feedback on this project to create optional Endorsements that ESE will certify for teachers looking to advance their career while remaining in the classroom.

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Last Updated: January 11, 2013
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