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Commissioner's Weekly Update - October 26, 2012

Gov. Patrick Appoints New State Education Board Member:

Governor Deval Patrick has appointed Dr. Pendred "Penny" Noyce to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Dr. Noyce is a founding trustee of the Noyce Foundation, which since 1991 has supported U.S. public education with a focus on mathematics and science. She holds a BA from Harvard and an MD from Stanford, and for several years practiced as an internist in Boston and Wellesley. From 1993-2002, Dr. Noyce was the co-principal investigator of the $16 million National Science Foundation- and state-funded PALMS initiative to improve K-12 mathematics and science education in Massachusetts. In 2011, Dr. Noyce founded Tumblehome Learning, a company that helps kids imagine themselves as young scientists or engineers and encourages them to experience science through adventure and self-guided discovery.

Summit on Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment - Registration Is Now Open:

Registration is now open for the 5th annual Summit on Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Raising the Rigor for Teaching and Learning, which will occur on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012 and repeat on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Marlborough. The summit will take place over two days to allow more districts to attend. The program is identical the two days - attending only one day does not mean you are missing something. School district teams should choose the day most convenient for them to attend. We do request that the entire team attend on the same day. School districts and charter schools may bring teams of up to four individuals. The superintendent should design the team. Alternative education programs, adult basic education centers, educational collaboratives, and approved special education schools/programs may send no more than one individual.

Registration will continue through Nov. 1 or until capacity is reached. We will not accept walk-in registrations. ESE will send confirmations by Nov. 5. Please contact Alexia Cribbs at with any questions.

2012 Cohort Graduation Rate Data - Ready for Review:

ESE has posted 2012 cohort graduation rate data for districts to review and make corrections to individual student data. See "2012 Graduation Rate Reports" on the Security Portal at Aggregate rates have not yet been provided. Corrections will not be accepted through email or over the phone. The only mechanism to make corrections to these data is through the October SIMS submission. The final graduation rates will be made publicly available in January 2013 once the October 2012 SIMS data have been certified and the calculations have been completed. 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 listing of those individuals is located at The deadline to correct these graduation rate data coincides with the October SIMS submission deadline, which is Nov. 15.

Update on the Mass. Tiered System of Support:

The Massachusetts Tiered System of Support (MTSS) is a blueprint for school improvement that focuses on system structures and supports across the district, school, and classroom to meet the academic and non-academic needs of all students. The foundation of MTSS is a robust and responsive core educational environment (Tier 1) with the availability of targeted interventions for struggling students, including students with disabilities and English language learners, and enrichment opportunities for students who have already demonstrated mastery of the concepts and skills being taught (Tiers 2 and 3).

Over the past five years, educators from across the state have taken graduate level courses in the area of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) sponsored by the Department. UDL provides a set of principles for curriculum development to give all students equal opportunities to learn. UDL helps educators create instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that they can customize and adjust for individual student needs. ESE is launching a new initiative, called Lessons4MTSS, to bring together educators to review and create exemplar lesson plans and supporting activities. We encourage you to support local participation in this exciting initiative. To learn more about this opportunity, please email

ESE is also seeking volunteers to participate on an MTSS Advisory Board to help develop MTSS and other activities related to general and special education personnel development, including a new, federally funded, multi-year grant for developing model district sites for implementing MTSS. We are seeking representatives from higher education, districts (general and special education administrators and practitioners), family members, state and community agencies, and other interested stakeholders. The advisory board will meet three to four times per year in a centrally located space. If you or your staff is interested in this volunteer opportunity, please send an email to

Feb. 2013 MCAS Biology Test Materials - Place Orders Next Week:

High school principals can place orders for February 2013 MCAS Biology test materials next week. Principals should order materials online at between Oct. 29 and Nov. 2, 2012. All high schools must complete an order form, even if no students will participate in the February administration. Instructions on how to order materials are available online at

For Your Info:

  • Registration is currently open for the 2012-2013 Real World Design Challenge, an annual aviation design competition for teams of 3-7 high school students. The challenge is free for students and teachers, and each teacher/coach that signs up a team will receive access to professional engineering software. Participating students will have access to mentors from industry, government, and universities. The MA State Champion team will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC to compete at the National Challenge. For more info, go to


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Last Updated: October 26, 2012
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