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Commissioner's Weekly Update - January 25, 2013

Governor's Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Recommendation:

This week, Governor Patrick released his Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) $32.825 billion budget recommendation to the Legislature. The two primary investments in the recommendation, which increased spending by 6.93 percent from FY13, are in education and transportation. The recommendation for ESE is $4.955 billion, an increase of $252.8 million above our $4.702 billion FY13 budget. Governor Patrick has asserted that along with innovation, investment in education and transportation are the cornerstones of a healthy future for Massachusetts and its citizens.

The Governor's budget recommendation starts the FY14 budget cycle that will culminate in late June 2013 when the Legislature approves the FY14 budget and forwards it to the Governor for his final review and approval. We will provide additional updates throughout the budget process. For more on the Administration's FY14 budget recommendation, go to http://www.mass.gov/bb/h1/fy14h1/index.html. Also, preliminary estimates for FY14 chapter 70 aid and local spending requirements for every school district have been posted on ESE's school finance webpage at http://finance1.doe.mass.edu/chapter70/chapter_14p.html.

Four-Year Cohort Graduation Rate Improves for the 6th Straight Year:

The state's four-year graduation rate improved for the sixth consecutive year, and the state's annual dropout rate declined to 2.5 percent - the fourth consecutive year below 3 percent and the lowest overall rate in decades. Statewide, 84.7 percent of the 73,479 students in the 2012 cohort graduated within four years. Last year's improvement in the annual dropout rate meant that 843 fewer students dropped out in 2011-12 than the prior year, and more than 4,300 fewer students dropped out than in 2006-07. All of the credit goes to districts and schools for identifying students at-risk of dropping out earlier in their careers and going the extra mile to give those students the extra attention and academic and/or non-academic interventions they need to succeed. For more info, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=7223.

Also, please note that due to a minor technical error that caused some non-graduates to be included in a school's count, the initially reported school-level data for 194 schools were incorrect. That data have now been corrected and are available on the Security Portal and in Profiles at http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/state_report/gradrates.aspx. The correction in all but a handful of examples resulted in a slight increase in a school's four-year graduation rate. There were no changes to the state and district-level data.

PARCC Updates:

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has released for public comment draft policies regarding the provision of reading access accommodations and calculator accommodations on non-calculator test sessions for the PARCC tests currently under development. These policies are very similar to the Commonwealth's current accommodations policies for MCAS.

To assist states and districts in their planning for the online administration of assessments beginning in 2014-15, PARCC recently released updated technology guidelines, which are available at http://www.parcconline.org/technology/. To view PARCC's updated Technology Readiness Tool, go to http://tinyurl.com/cow48wj. If you have any questions, please contact ESE's Student Assessment unit at 781-338-3625.

This Week's School Visits:

Commissioner Chester visited William J. Dean Technical High School in Holyoke and Essex Elementary School, Memorial Elementary School, and Manchester Regional Middle/High School in the Manchester Essex Regional School District.

For Your Info:

  • BESE Meeting: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet on Jan. 28-29. To view the agenda, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/boe/docs/2013-01/.
  • 2013-14 MCAS/ACCESS Test Schedule: The 2013-14 testing schedule for MCAS and ACCESS is now posted. ESE provides notice of the testing dates well in advance to assist in your development of next year's school and district calendars and to ensure that priority is given to this testing schedule. As a reminder, state and federal laws require schools to make reasonable accommodations for the needs of students and employees who observe religious holidays. For a list of MA legal holidays and major religious observances, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/resources/holidaymemo.html.
  • FAFSA Day Massachusetts: The 9th annual FAFSA Day Massachusetts will take place on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. over 25 locations. FAFSA Day Massachusetts provides free help to students and families across the state 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 http://www.fafsaday.org.

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Last Updated: January 25, 2013
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