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Commissioner's Weekly Update - January 6, 2017

Education Week's Quality Counts Rates Massachusetts Best in Nation:

On January 4, 2017, Education Week released the 21st edition of its annual Quality Counts report on state education systems and for the third year in a row listed Massachusetts first in the nation in overall quality. The Commonwealth was also top in the nation on two of the indices that went into the overall ranking: K-12 achievement and the publication's Chance for Success Index, which considers outcomes from early childhood through adulthood.

Office Hours on Proposed Revisions to ELA and Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks:

In addition to in-person office hours for curriculum leaders, ESE will hold four conference call office hours sessions for pre-K-12 and higher education faculty, administrators, the general public, students, and parents/guardians on proposed changes to the 2011 English language arts/literacy and mathematics curriculum frameworks during the public comment period, which is open until February 17, 2017.

Sessions will begin with an overview of the proposed changes to both the English language arts/literacy and mathematics framework drafts. There will be time in each session for callers to give ESE staff their comments on the proposed changes and to ask questions about either the mathematics framework (January 12 and 25) or the English language arts/literacy framework (January 18 and February 2).

Registration information, framework drafts, quick reference guides, and grade-by-grade tables of the proposed revisions are available on ESE's English Language Arts and Literacy and Mathematics Standards Review website.

The schedule and subject area for the calls are listed below, and each call will run from 3-4 p.m. Registered participants will be sent a PowerPoint presentation and call-in information a few days prior to their session.

  • Thursday, January 12: mathematics, register by January 6.
  • Wednesday, January 18: ELA/literacy, register by Wednesday, January 11.
  • Wednesday, January 25: mathematics, register by Wednesday, January 18.
  • Thursday, February 2: ELA/literacy, register by Thursday, January 26.

Special Education Professional Development Survey:

The Office of Special Education Planning and Policy is in the process of identifying special education professional development activities based on a comprehensive survey of the field. The Department is interested in educators' opinions about how ESE can best help educators achieve their professional development goals and hopes educators will take 10 minutes to complete a survey on special education professional development.

The survey is open for responses until January 31, 2017. It is anonymous and completely voluntary. The findings will be available online at in February and will be used to inform and enhance ESE programming to meet the field's interests and needs.

Survey on 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.

ESE Resource Corner

Evidence-based turnaround practices: 2016 research findings and resources on Massachusetts turnaround practices and the implementation and impact of School Redesign Grants are now available.

The research by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) summarizes which strategies were used in schools where student outcomes improved and includes an analysis of the effect of School Redesign Grants on all recipient Level 4 schools throughout the state. The grants had a statistically significant impact on student outcomes one, two, and three years after receipt, and the grants' impact on English language learners is even greater than for their English speaking peers.

Turnaround practice resources include the 2016 Massachusetts Turnaround Practices Field Guide and a Turnaround Practices Video Series. The guide is designed for school- and district-level educators and describes how successful turnaround schools implemented the turnaround practices. The video series highlights the work of schools that have made gains in student achievement, and in each video, school staff and leadership tell their unique story of school turnaround.

Guidance on Rights of Students with Disabilities:

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) recently released three new sets of guidance to help the public understand how USED interprets and enforces federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities. The guidance includes:

In addition, USED also released a Know Your Rights document to provide parents a brief overview of the rights of public charter school students with disabilities and the legal obligations of charter schools under Section 504 and the IDEA.

Resources to Help Students Transition out of Juvenile Justice Settings:

The U.S. Department of Education recently released new guides and resources to help students who are transitioning back to traditional school settings from juvenile justice settings. The resources include a guide written for incarcerated youth and a website on improving outcomes for youth with disabilities in juvenile corrections.

For Your Info:

  • Including data from commonwealth virtual schools for the school-attending children report: Cities and towns must complete the School-Attending Children Report by February 24. To assist districts in collecting relevant data from the state's commonwealth virtual schools (the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield and TEC Connections Academy), the Office of Digital Learning will provide files to districts via the SIMS Exchange File in Dropbox Central by January 13, 2017. Among other information, the file will contain the first and last name, date of birth, street address, and withdrawal code (if necessary) for each student enrolled in the virtual school between the start of the school year and January 1, 2017. Please contact the Office of Digital Learning with any questions.
  • Last call for DEP assistance program for lead in school drinking water: The Department of Environmental Protection is asking that all districts and schools signed up to participate in the Assistance Program for Lead in School Drinking Water get in touch with UMass Amherst if they have not already done so. The assistance program funds samplings and analysis of school tap and water fountains, particularly for lead and copper. Please email or call 413-545-0840 to schedule any remaining steps.

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 6, 2017
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