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Commissioner's Weekly Update - MCAS & Accountability Results, Board to Meet, Serving Puerto Rican Students - October 20, 2017

Assessment and Accountability Results:

The Department publicly released 2017 assessment and accountability results this week, including results from the first administration of the next-generation MCAS. In the assessment press release, Education Secretary Jim Peyser said, "With the help of hundreds of educators, we revised our curriculum standards to boost student achievement and revamped the assessments to ensure we have a tool to appropriately gauge whether a student is prepared for the next grade level and eventually college or career. While our schools rank among the top performing in the nation, we want to ensure we prepare all our students for future successes."

In conjunction with the release of the next-generation MCAS scores, ESE has also made many resources available on the MCAS parent page (, including a letter to parents about the next-generation MCAS and an interactive parent guide.

Also this week, ESE commended seven high schools for high achievement, strong progress, and/or narrowing proficiency gaps and announced that Randolph has exited Level 4 status. The seven commended high schools are Abington High School, Apponequet Regional High School in Lakeville (part of the Freetown-Lakeville Regional School District), Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in Upton, Lynnfield High School, Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High in Lexington, Swampscott High School and Westwood High School. Congratulations to all!

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to Meet:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will hold a special meeting on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, and a regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 24. The agenda for Monday night includes assessment and accountability results, and the agenda for Tuesday includes an update on the commissioner search, an update on transitioning the high school MCAS graduation requirement when the high school version of the next-generation MCAS begins, an update on Level 5 schools, and a report on action taken against educator licenses.

Serving Students from Puerto Rico:

Massachusetts is working to welcome Puerto Ricans affected by the hurricanes this fall. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services are coordinating a support network to guide people to state and local resources. Massachusetts 2-1-1 (a hotline people can reach by dialing 2-1-1) is providing intake services, and the Family Resource Centers are proving local referrals and some case management. Schools are an important part of this network. By promptly enrolling children, schools are supporting children's education and helping families reestablish their lives and daily routines. Homeless education liaisons will be receiving further information and updates to ensure that families are welcomed and that educational opportunities accessed as smoothly as possible. For questions or concerns, please contact ESE at 781-338-3700.

Dropout Prevention and Re-Engagement Work Group Meeting:

The annual fall Dropout Prevention and Re Engagement Work Group Meeting will be from 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Friday, October 27 at the Doubletree Hotel in Leominster. The gathering is open to all districts and schools that want to improve graduation and dropout rates. Jenny Curtin from the Barr Foundation will start the day with a presentation entitled "Building Education Options," and there will be breakout sessions highlighting successful practices, and opportunities to network and share successes and challenges. Department staff will be available from 12:30-2:00 p.m. to help districts and schools look at their specific Early Warning Indicator System and District Analysis Review Tools data. More information is available at the registration link.

Southbridge Receiver Job Description Posted:

Following an extensive community engagement process, the job description for Southbridge Public Schools receiver has been posted, and ESE is accepting applications. The Department is asking people to share this opportunity with anyone they know who might be interested.

Social and Emotional Learning Professional Development Opportunity:

The state Department of Public Health and ESE invite first and second grade teachers to participate in a free, one-day professional development opportunity about a social and emotional learning program called the Good Behavior Game. The materials needed to implement it will be offered at no charge, and implementation support will be offered via webinar and telephone. For more information, contact Kathleen Herr-Zaya at the Department of Public Health ( or 617-624-5143). Interested individuals should use this link to indicate their school's interest by November 1, 2017.

2017-2018 U.S. Presidential Scholar Nominations:

Districts and high schools are invited to submit nominations for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, which recognizes students from across the country for their strong academic performance, demonstrated leadership, school and community involvement, and promise of future success. The presidentially-appointed Commission on Presidential Scholars permits each chief state school officer to nominate up 25 students, including up to 5 from career and technical education. In Massachusetts, each district can nominate up to two students for the Commissioner's consideration. Guidelines and nomination forms are available online. Nominations are due to ESE by 5 p.m. November 3, 2017.

Elementary Principals Network Meetings:

Starting in November, ESE, in collaboration with the Massachusetts School Administrators' Association, will host three rounds of regional network sessions for elementary principals on early learning topics. Elementary school principals can register online for one of the sessions and are encouraged to share the information with other elementary school principals.

Special Education Advisory Council Openings:

The State Special Education Advisory Council (SAC) is seeking candidates for three vacancies. Members are appointed to serve a three-year term, and may serve up to two consecutive terms. Details are available online.

Used Computers Available:

The Social Security Administration has used desktop computers and server equipment to donate to Massachusetts school systems. Each computer is donated as a full unit (desktop tower, flat screen monitor, keyboard and mouse). Please note that all units are completely wiped of all software and require a Windows-based operating system. The following desktop computer models are available: Hewlett Packard CPU DC7900 Convertible Minitowers, Hewlett Packard CPU 8000 Elite Convertible Minitowers, and Hewlett Packard CPU 8300 Elite Convertible Minitowers. In addition, a Dell PowerEdge 1950 server, a Dell PowerEdge 2950 server, a Dell PowerVault 114T Ultrium LTO 2 backup tape unit and a Dell KMM unit (keyboard, monitor and mouse unit) are available. If interested, please contact Roberto Medina.

Digital Connections Partnership Schools Grants Available for Wi-Fi:

The Department is accepting applications from districts seeking to upgrade their wireless networks. To see if a particular district has been preliminarily targeted for an upgrade, consult this list. Even districts that are not prepared to apply for the grant this year are encouraged to complete an application, because the information will be used to inform ESE's budget request for FY19 funding.

Water Testing Available:

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is offering additional water testing services and technical assistance to schools statewide. More information is available online and includes a program application, results from the last school year, and fact sheets.

Registration Open for Student Government Day on April 6:

The state's Annual Student Government Day will be held on Friday, April 6, 2018. Registration is now open, and information about the event is available online.

For Your Info:

  • Computer Science Teachers Association Conference: The Computer Science Teachers Association's Greater Boston Chapter is organizing a New England regional conference from 7:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. October 28 at UMass Lowell for teachers, superintendents, administrators, technology directors, and school counselors who are invested in building a regional effort to strengthen K-12 computer science education. Keynote speakers will be Education Secretary James Peyser and Steve Vinter, executive coach and tech leadership development advisor. The conference has tracks for administrators and teachers, and advance registration is $30.

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 20, 2017
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