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Commissioner's Weekly Update - January 31, 2014

4-Year Graduation Rate Improves for 7th Consecutive Year:

The state's four-year cohort graduation rate improved to 85%, the seventh consecutive year of improvement, and the annual dropout rate fell to 2.2%, the lowest rate in more than three decades, according to new data released by the Department this week. Since last year, four-year graduation rate gains made by Hispanic students, low income students, and English language learners outpaced all other student groups. The credit for the terrific rates of improvement belongs to the students themselves and the educators who are encouraging at-risk students to stay in school and supporting their pathway to graduation. In fact, these outstanding efforts are receiving well-deserved national acclaim, including a tweet from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calling out the "great work" evidenced in Massachusetts. For more info on this week's release, go to

Commissioner Selects Turnaround Operators for Level 5 Schools:

On Wednesday, Commissioner Chester announced the turnaround operators for the four schools that he placed into Level 5 in October 2013. The four schools are Dever Elementary School and Holland Elementary School in Boston, Morgan Full Service Community School in Holyoke, and John Avery Parker Elementary School in New Bedford. The Commissioner selected Blueprint Schools Network as the receiver for Dever; Unlocking Potential as the receiver for Holland; and Project GRAD as the receiver for Morgan. The Commissioner also selected New Bedford Public Schools Superintendent Pia Durkin to implement the turnaround plan at Parker. The Commissioner is currently developing turnaround plans for all four schools. For more info, go to

Educator Evaluation – Model Contract Language:

The Department has released Appendix E of Part IV of the Massachusetts Model System for Educator Evaluation: Model Collective Bargaining Contract Language. The model contract language will support the implementation of the Student Impact Rating and District-Determined Measures (DDMs). This document accomplishes two critical goals for the implementation of DDMs: districts must engage teachers as key stakeholders and must develop an expeditious process for resolving disagreements about the DDMs in order to begin implementation in the 2014-15 school year. Key to successful implementation is continued collaborative work. In the development of this model contract language, we appreciate the support and feedback from the state associations of superintendents, school committees, and teachers unions. To see the model contract language, go to

2014 TELL MASS Survey – Now Open:

The Department has launched the second TELL MASS Survey for Massachusetts public school educators. The online survey, which is voluntary, confidential, and anonymous, allows us to gather educators' perspective on working conditions in their schools, including matters regarding instructional practices, available time, facilities, resources, and community engagement and support. The survey, which is open to all school-based, licensed public school educators, will remain open through Feb. 18, 2014. If you are an educator who did not receive an access code for your school, please contact the Help Desk at 800-310-2964 or As a reminder, Race to the Top districts and schools are required to participate in the survey. To learn more about the survey and view additional resources including a district-by-district response rate tracker, go to

Board Recap:

At its Jan. 27 special meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education held a joint session with the Board of Early Education and Care to discuss collaborative work across the two sectors related to school readiness and early literacy. The Boards also heard an update on the work of the state's Early Literacy Panel from Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor Nonie Lesaux. At its Jan. 28 regular meeting, the Board voted to approve amendments to the Regulations on Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval relating to the professional standards for teachers and to send out for public comment proposed regulations under the state's new law on student discipline. The Board discussed the Governor's FY 2015 budget recommendation and reviewed information on the new virtual school applicant and new charter school applicants. The Board voted to place Global Learning Charter Public School in New Bedford on probation and impose new conditions on the school's charter. The Board also voted to consolidate the charters for Excel Academy Charter School, Excel Academy Charter School – Chelsea, and Excel Academy Charter School – Boston II under a single charter.

FY2015 School Finance Updates:

The Department's School Finance office has posted detailed preliminary estimates of FY 2015 required local contributions and net school spending requirements, based on the Chapter 70 proposals included in Governor Patrick's House 2 budget recommendation. To see those estimates, go to The Department will publish final Chapter 70 numbers after the Legislature approves the budget or a local aid resolution.

Licensure Renewal - Reminder:

As a reminder, the June 2014 deadline for nearly 35,000 Massachusetts educators to renew their Professional Licenses is fast approaching. Please ensure that educators in your district with a Professional license are aware of the renewal requirements (see 603 CMR 44.05) and the impending deadline for this large cohort of licensed educators. Since the first of the year, more than 2,200 educators have already renewed their license(s).

We are encouraging educators to renew their licenses by using the Educator Licensing and Recruitment (ELAR) system. To begin the renewal process, educators must login to ELAR and follow six easy steps. At the completion of the process, an educator's license is renewed instantly and an updated licensure status is generated via the educator's ELAR Profile. Online renewal is the fastest way to complete the process. However, educators may also submit completed applications, located at, to the Licensure Office for processing.

To assist educators through the renewal process, the Department will hold a Computer Lab for interested parties on February 18, 19, and 21 in Malden. To register for a Lab session, go to Educators needing assistance in accessing their ELAR account can contact James Wilkinson at or 781-338-6614.

For Your Info:

Subscriber Information: 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) 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: February 3, 2014
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