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Commissioner's Weekly Update - October 18, 2013

2013 Cohort Graduation Rate Data – Ready for Review:

ESE has posted 2013 cohort graduation rate data for districts to review and make corrections to individual student data. Aggregate rates have not yet been provided. ESE 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. ESE will make final graduation rates publicly available in January 2014 once the October 2013 SIMS data have been certified and the calculations have been completed.

Data are located under "Graduation Rate Reports" on the Security Portal at The application 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 District Support Specialist. A list of those individuals is located at The deadline to correct these dropout data coincides with the October SIMS submission deadline, which is November 7.

November is Family Literacy Month:

The Patrick Administration has proclaimed November 2013 to be the Commonwealth's 17th annual Family Literacy Month in recognition of the pivotal role that parents and family members play in the educational success of their children. In celebration, communities across the Commonwealth will host activities throughout November in support of literacy, lifelong learning, and family well-being. Please tell us about activities that your community will conduct in November by emailing the date, time, age range, and a brief description of the activity to Arlene Dale at

The Massachusetts Family Literacy Consortium, a group of state agencies, community organizations, parents, and providers dedicated to expanding and strengthening family literacy and support, is the sponsor of Family Literacy Month. For more info on ways to promote family literacy, learning, and involvement visit

Update on Level 5 Roundtable Discussions:

On Tuesday, Commissioner Chester visited Holyoke's Morgan Full Service Elementary School, an "underperforming" or Level 4 school that is under consideration for a "chronically underperforming" or Level 5 designation. The Commissioner met with an eleven-member roundtable to hear representatives from key stakeholder groups discuss what it will take to turn around the school and dramatically improve student achievement. On Oct. 24, the Commissioner will visit Parker Elementary School in New Bedford from 4 to 6 p.m.

Amendments to Regulations on Student Physical Exams:

This week, the Public Health Council of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) adopted amendments to state regulations on the physical examination of school children. While schools must continue to calculate a Body Mass Index (BMI) for students in grades 1, 4, 7, and 10, the Council eliminated the universal notification requirement that required schools to report students' BMI to parents and DPH. In response to this week's vote, DPH will prepare updated guidance to distribute to school nurses in the near future. We will share that guidance with you as soon as it is available.

Upcoming Submission Deadline for SY2013-14 Grants:

As a reminder, the Nov. 1, 2013 submission deadline for districts to apply for School Year (SY) 2013-14 Title I, Title IIA, and IDEA grant funds is fast approaching. If your district has not yet applied for these funds, please do so as soon as possible to allow full implementation of your grant-funded activities this school year. Please also note that the Title III grant applications for eligible districts are due to ESE by Dec. 2, 2013. For more info, including RFPs, application materials, and allocations, please visit

2013 School Report Cards:

In the coming weeks, ESE will release updated 2013 school report cards to Profiles at We have redesigned the 2013 report cards based on feedback from a number of stakeholders, including district staff and parents. The new design includes a two-page overview aimed to convey useful information about a school's students and staff in an efficient, user-friendly format. We will provide additional details when the report cards are available. In the meantime, please note that we have extended the October distribution deadline for report cards that appeared in the Superintendents' Checklist.

School Visits:

This week, Commissioner Chester visited the White Street School, Kiley Middle School, and High School of Commerce in Springfield; Morgan Full Service Community School in Holyoke; UP Academy Charter School of Boston; and the Brennan Middle School in Attleboro.

For Your Info:

  • Board to Meet: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet on October 22 in Malden. The agenda is online at
  • PARCC Session for Superintendents: ESE and the Mass. Association of School Superintendents will hold two upcoming sessions on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) for superintendents of school districts that are participating in this year's PARCC field test. The first session will take place on Monday, Oct. 21 at Worcester Technical High School from 9 to 11 a.m.

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: October 21, 2013
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