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Commissioner's Weekly Update - January 24, 2014

Cohort Graduation Rate and Annual Dropout Rate Reports – Coming Next Week:

The Department will release publicly the final 2013 cohort graduation rate and annual dropout rate data on Monday, January 27 at 10:30 a.m. As a reminder, the data are strictly embargoed until the Department's public release. If you have questions, please contact JC Considine at 781-338-3112 or Rob Curtin at 781-338-3582.

January 27-28 Board Meeting:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet in Malden on January 27-28. At Monday evening's special meeting, the Board will hold a joint session with the Board of Early Education and Care to discuss collaborative efforts across the two sectors to promote school readiness and early literacy. At Tuesday's regular meeting, the Board will take a final vote on amendments to the Regulations on Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, relating to professional standards for teachers, and an initial vote on proposed regulations under the new state law on student discipline. The Board will review the Governor's proposed state education budget for FY 2015, receive information on the new virtual school applicant and new charter school applicants, and vote on two charter school matters. To view the agenda, go to

New PARCC Sample Items:

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, has released new computer-based sample test items along with a tutorial about how the questions are presented online. The item sets are organized for grades 3-5, 6-8, and high school, with one set each for English language arts and mathematics at each grade span level. Educators, students, and parents can see the content of the questions and experience how students taking the test online will click on answers, drag-and-drop, highlight, keyboard, and use online mathematics tools. To access the items, go to Released items are also in PDF format at

STEM Advisory Council – Seeking Members:

The Department is seeking individuals to serve on the new Science, Technology/Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Advisory Council to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The recently created 15-member council may include educators, parents, students, business and labor representatives, higher education officials, and other community members appointed to three-year terms. Council members, who are unpaid, meet three times per year. The council balances its membership across each area of science, technology/engineering, and mathematics. Currently, the Department is seeking five members each from the areas of science and technology/engineering to serve on the council with the five currently serving mathematics members. Interested parties should submit two copies of a letter of intent and resume to Jake Foster via email at or mail at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Science, Technology/Engineering, and Mathematics, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148. Nominations are due by February 21, 2014.

Integrating Education Evaluation and Curriculum Frameworks – Grant Opportunity:

The Department will again offer its Professional Practice Innovation Grant to support district efforts to integrate the implementation of the Commonwealth's new educator evaluation system and the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. This competitive grant opportunity promotes innovative professional practices designed to strengthen coherence between high quality curriculum, instruction, and evaluation. Six districts received the grant in FY 2014: Abington (with other districts), Greater Lawrence Technical School, Milton Public Schools, Newton Public Schools, Northampton Public Schools (with other districts), and Watertown Public Schools. A webinar on this grant opportunity will take place at 2 p.m. on March 4. To register, go to

FY 2015 Innovation Schools Fellowship:

The Department in collaboration with the Executive Office of Education (EOE) is offering a newly created Innovation Schools Fellowship to support prospective innovation school operators during an in-depth, year-long school development process. Up to three $75,000 Fellowships are available in one of three educational models: (1) blended learning; (2) year-round school schedule; or (3) early college or multiple pathways. For more info on this grant opportunity, go to". EOE and the Mass. Teachers Association will host an event for interested parties to learn more about the Fellowship on Jan. 29 from 4-6 p.m. in Natick. To register, go to The Department will also hold technical assistance webinars for interested parties on Feb. 4 and 10. To learn more, go to

For Your Info:

  • FAFSA Day Massachusetts: The 10th annual College Goal Sunday/FAFSA Day Massachusetts will take place on Sunday, Jan. 26 and Feb. 23 at more than 30 locations statewide. FAFSA Day Massachusetts provides free help to students and families looking to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to apply for federal, state, and institutional aid. For more info, go to
  • New Report on Breakfast in the Classroom: At a recent Urban Superintendents meeting, superintendents spoke about their successes and challenges in implementing Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) as a tool to ensure all students start the day ready to learn. A new national report finds that principals are embracing BIC as the best way to increase the number of students starting the day with school breakfast. The Food Research and Action Center and The National Association of Elementary School Principals surveyed 276 school principals from 15 districts nationwide whose schools are operating BIC programs. According to the report, 78 percent of principals who offer BIC programs would recommend other school leaders explore BIC as an option after experiencing increased student attendance, decreased tardiness, fewer reports of children being hungry, and a better school environment. To read the full report, go to

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Last Updated: January 27, 2014
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