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Commissioner's Weekly Update - January 27, 2017

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education met on January 23 and 24, 2017. Monday evening, they heard a presentation on ESE's proposed state plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act and discussed its goals and proposed measures of accountability. On Tuesday morning, the Board met jointly with the Board of Higher Education at Bridgewater State University, and both boards voted to create an Early College Joint Committee to encourage more early college options for all high school students. The two boards also discussed plans for a high school version of the next-generation MCAS.

Later Tuesday, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education held its regular meeting, where members approved expansion requests at two charter schools in Boston (Boston Collegiate and Boston Preparatory) and one in Hyannis (Sturgis). The Board also heard an update on the John Avery Parker School, a Level 5 school in New Bedford.

Videos of the meetings are available on ESE's Livestream page at

Chapter 70 Estimates Available:

Preliminary Chapter 70 education estimates for cities and towns for FY2018 are available online, along with a summary of the Chapter 70 part of Governor Baker's proposed budget. The estimates are subject to change as the House and Senate deliberate on the budget, and ESE recommends that districts build their budgets with enough flexibility to accommodate the changes that typically occur during the state budget process.

Changes to Charter School Tuition Assessment Schedule:

The Department, in conjunction with Department of Revenue's Division of Local Services, will be modifying its charter school tuition assessment process based on discussions with the state comptroller's office. Beginning in FY2018, charter tuition assessments will be deducted monthly beginning in July instead of monthly beginning in December. This change will ensure that assessments and payments will occur within the same month. The July through November assessments (net of reimbursements) will be based on charter school pre-enrollment reports. Beginning in December, assessments will be adjusted to reflect October 1 enrollment reports and subsequent enrollment changes. For further information, contact William Bell, senior associate commissioner for administration and finance, at or Jay Sullivan, associate commissioner for school and district finance, at

Next-Generation MCAS Update:

Practice Tests Coming for Next-Generation MCAS: Starting on or around February 1, 2017 and continuing on a rolling basis, ESE will release practice tests to help educators and students prepare for this spring's next-generation MCAS in English language arts and math in grades 3-8. The practice tests will represent a full MCAS session and will be available on paper and in a computer-based format and will be posted on the MCAS support page. A guide to the computer-based equation editor tool for math tests is already posted. More information is available in the most recent Student Assessment Update.

Update on Computer-Based Testing Choices: As the state phases in computer-based testing, more than 90 percent of school districts plan to administer the computer-based version of the next-generation MCAS in English language arts and math for grades 4 and 8 in the spring. In addition, many schools are choosing to use only the computer-based version for other grades. High school testing is not changing this year and will remain on paper.

VISTA: We Want to Hear from You!:

The Views of Instruction, State Standards, Teaching, and Assessment (VISTA) surveys give superintendents and principals the opportunity to share their views with ESE on the implementation of five important statewide initiatives: curriculum frameworks, educator growth and development, the role of educator evaluation in educator growth and development, social and emotional learning, and ESE support. Thank you to the superintendents and principals who have already taken their respective surveys! All superintendents and principals were mailed individual links to the relevant survey, and ESE encourages leaders who have not yet accessed their links to add their voice to those of their fellow educators. The more educators ESE hears from, the better able the agency is to improve statewide implementation and target resources and supports. Information on the 2017 surveys is available on ESE's VISTA website, as are results from last year's VISTA surveys. Any superintendent or principal who has not received a link to a survey should contact the VISTA Study Help Desk at

Survey on the Massachusetts History and Social Science Framework Revision:

As Massachusetts embarks on a revision of the 2003 Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework, ESE encourages educators and others to offer comments on and suggested revisions to the current framework via a survey. The survey takes approximately 10–20 minutes and will remain open until February 6, 2017.

Survey on the Massachusetts English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics Framework Revision:

The public comment period continues for the new drafts of the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks for English language arts and literacy and mathematics. Comments may be made through February 17 through an online survey. Educators interested in learning more about the proposed changes are encouraged to check out the English language arts and literacy and math standards review page.

For Your Info:

  • We the People competition: The Massachusetts We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution Program and We the People: Project Citizen state competition will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, January 28 at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston. We the People is a curricular program that engages students in projects to analyze aspects of the U.S Constitution. The competition is an opportunity for students to present their work before judges who offer feedback and determine the class that will represent the state at the national finals later this year. We the People invites teachers, school administrators, and civic education non-profit organizations to attend. For further information and to inform the organization of plans to attend, contact Roger Desrosiers, president of the Massachusetts Center for Civic Education at 508-728-4733 or
  • Licensure office hits record numbers: In 2016, staff in ESE's Office of Educator Licensure issued 28,632 licenses and endorsements, which was the most credentials issued in at least 13 years and probably the most ever for the agency. In addition, the average wait time for callers to the licensure office dropped to less than 3 minutes. The Licensure Call Center at 781-338-6600 is open from 9 a.m. to noon and 2-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Subscriber Information: Superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, and charter school leaders will receive the update automatically. For others wishing to subscribe, send an email to with the following information in the body of the email: subscribe ESEUpdate Your Name. (Example: subscribe ESEUpdate John Smith) Leave the subject line blank. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with the following information in the body: unsubscribe ESEUpdate Your Name. (Example: unsubscribe ESEUpdate John Smith)

Last Updated: January 27, 2017
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