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Commissioner's Weekly Update - MCAS & Accountability Release, Graduation Rate Data, STEM Grants - October 13, 2017

Embargoed Release of Assessment and Accountability Data:

On Monday, October 16, 2017, ESE will provide districts and schools with embargoed access to their official 2017 MCAS data via Drop Box Central and Edwin Analytics in the Security Portal. Official embargoed district and school accountability data will also be available via the Accountability Data application in the Security Portal at that time. Districts and schools have had embargoed access to their preliminary 2017 assessment and accountability data since mid-August. However, the official release will include next-generation MCAS achievement and growth results, as well as the identification of Commendation Schools at the high school level.

The Department plans to make 2017 MCAS and accountability data public the morning of Wednesday, October 18. District leaders may discuss the data publicly at that time. Additional details regarding the data that will be available next week can be found in the data review and release schedule. For help with questions about assessment results, e-mail or call (781) 338-3625. For help with questions about accountability reporting, e-mail or call (781) 338-3550.

2017 Annual Dropout and Cohort Graduation Rate Data Ready for Review:

The Department has posted 2017 annual dropout and cohort graduation rate data for districts to review and to make corrections to individual student data. Aggregate rates have not yet been provided. The Department will not accept corrections through email or over the phone. The only mechanism to make corrections to these data is through the October SIMS submission. The Department will make final dropout and graduation rates publicly available in January 2018 after the October 2017 SIMS data have been certified and the calculations have been completed.

Data are located under "Dropout Data Summary Report" and "Graduation Rate Reports" on the Security Portal at These applications can be accessed with a username, password, and the SIMS Data User role. Should you or your staff have any questions on the correction process, please contact your data collection support specialist. Their contact information can be found at The deadline to correct or update these data coincides with the October SIMS submission deadline, which is October 27th.

Grants Available for STEM Career Pathways:

The Baker-Polito Administration has announced the availability of $1 million in STEM High-Quality Career Pathway Capacity Grant funding for schools that wish to adopt or expand Project Lead the Way curriculum, which is focused on applied learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in grades K-12. The grant will support teacher professional development and provide instructional technology and related equipment. Schools can apply for a grant via the Project Lead the Way website.

Free E-rate Webinar Series:

The nonprofit EducationSuperHighway is sponsoring a free webinar series on the federal E-rate program focused on Category 2 (internal connections, managed internal broadband services, and basic maintenance of internal connections). The webinars are designed to help districts understand the budget available to them, make the best use of those funds, and run a successful procurement. All webinars are from 1-2 p.m. Registration is available through the links below.

Digital Connections Partnership Schools Grants Available for Wi-Fi:

The Department is accepting applications from districts seeking to upgrade their wireless networks for 21st century teaching and learning. Approximately $1.7 million in matching state funds are available to cover 100 percent of the up-front costs of the infrastructure. The local match of between 30 and 70 percent of the project cost may fund any combination of devices, assistive technology, professional development, or managed services. Applications must be in by 5 p.m. November 10.

Application Deadline for Parent and Community Advisory Council Extended:

The Department is extending the deadline to apply for the Parent and Community Education and Involvement Advisory Council. Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and résumé to Kathy Rodriguez at or the Office of Adult and Community Learning Services, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant St., Malden 02148 by December 1.

Resources for Massachusetts' Approved ESSA Plan:

The U.S. Department of Education approved Massachusetts' plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) on September 21. The Every Student Succeeds Act is the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Massachusetts has produced a 1-page document that summarizes what's new and different in ESSA. The full text of Massachusetts' approved ESSA plan is posted on USED's website.

Skills Capital Grants:

Governor Baker, Education Secretary James Peyser, and Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta went to Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford on Wednesday to announce $9.5 million in Skills Capital Grants to 32 high schools, community colleges, and educational institutions. The money will help purchase equipment, modernize operations, and increase enrollment capacity in career training programs.

Exploring the State of Personalized Learning:

The Massachusetts Personalized Learning Edtech (MAPLE) Consortium has released its first Landscape Analysis of Personalized Learning in Massachusetts. The report examines progress towards personalized learning in districts across the state, focusing on professional development needs, resource use and access, and technical infrastructure readiness.

ESE Resource Corner:

Research update: The Department has posted brief summaries of recent research published on Massachusetts education policy by ESE and by other entities. The collection includes a journal article highlighting significant improvements in reported school-related safety for lesbian, gay, and bisexual students; a report on the Academic Support grant program that provides districts with funding to help students meet the Commonwealth's high school graduation requirement; and an issue brief on a study about the impact of high-quality career and technical education on later academic outcomes.

For Your Info:

  • Social studies conference: The Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies will host their fall statewide conference on October 20 in Marlborough. This year's theme is "To Sustain an Informed Citizenry." Workshop descriptions and registration information are available online.
  • Identifying and remediating reading disabilities: Tufts University will host "How to Screen & Intervene: A Practical Framework for Identifying and Remediating Reading Disabilities in K-2" on October 20. For more information, email
  • "High School Quiz Show": WGBH is launching Season 9 of "High School Quiz Show", its televised academic team competition for high school students. All Massachusetts high schools are eligible to participate. More information is also available online. Interested schools should sign up online by October 20 for the Super Sunday one-day qualifying event on November 5.
  • Civics opportunity: The Ten Questions for Changemakers Project at Harvard is inviting high school teachers to the Teacher Leader Program, which is designed to help teachers learn about a new tool to support students in becoming successful participants in civic life in the digital age. Participants will develop learning modules and gain skills to become national leaders in civic education. An informational meeting is scheduled for October 21 at Harvard University. More details and registration are available online.

Subscriber Information: To sign up to receive the Commissioner's Weekly Update, go to and sign up for the "Commissioner's update to school districts."

Last Updated: October 13, 2017
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