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Commissioner's Weekly Update - October 28, 2016

Dissemination Fair Opportunity:

Educators are invited to participate in the free, ESE-sponsored DissemiNATION Fair from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. November 18 at the Devens Conference Center, 31 Andrews Parkway, Devens. The fair will focus on school-to-school sharing, and nearly 50 schools and districts will highlight their best practices with respect to school redesign. The event includes district schools that receive the Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time or the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers Expanded Learning Time grants, innovation schools, charter schools, and turnaround schools (those designated Level 4 or 5). Topics will include everything from designing teacher and student schedules to serving students with disabilities.

The Department is encouraging interested individuals to register for the fair as soon as possible and to consider attending as a team with colleagues from the same school or district.

Board Sets Implementation Date for 10th Grade Next-Generation MCAS:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously on October 25, 2016 to implement the 10th grade next-generation MCAS in spring 2019 (for the class of 2021). Members of the class of 2021 are currently eighth graders and will take the eighth grade next-generation MCAS this year, giving them some experience with the next-generation version before encountering it as a graduation requirement. Students in the class of 2020 and prior classes will take the legacy 10th grade tests to meet their high school competency determination.

Board Discusses Revisions to Learning Standards:

In other business this week, the Board continued their discussions on proposed revisions to the state's learning standards for English language and math. Department staff outlined the proposed revisions for the Board, and in November, Board members expect to discuss the revisions again and send the proposal out for public comment. The recommended changes include increasing clarity, incorporating a variety of high school math pathways directly into the math standards document and making explicit connections among the reading, writing and language standards of the ELA standards. Links to the presentation to the Board and to charts showing proposed grade-by-grade changes are available at the bottom of this page.

Save These Dates!:

The Department's Center for Instructional Support (created when the Center for Curriculum and Instruction and the Center for Educator Effectiveness merged) is replacing the annual fall and spring convenings with a single annual Instructional Support Convening, which will be held starting at 8 a.m. on February 14, 2017 and repeated on February 15. at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Marlborough. (Participants should only attend one of the two days.)

At 8 a.m. April 3, ESE will host an Arts Literacy Conference at Devens Common Center in Devens. The full-day interdisciplinary conference will give attendees the opportunity to engage in different art forms and make connections to other subject areas.

At 8 a.m. May 8, ESE will hold its second annual Civics Literacy Conference with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston.

The Department will share more information closer to the conference dates.

Next-Generation MCAS Update:

Pre-Approved Graphic Organizers and Supplemental Reference Sheets available for Grades 3-8: The Department has developed new ELA graphic organizers and mathematics and science and technology/engineering reference sheets for use by students with disabilities who are participating in spring 2017 next-generation MCAS tests in grades 3-8. Students who use these tools for MCAS testing must have accommodation A9 (from the Accessibility and Accommodations Manual for the Spring 2017 MCAS Grades 3-8 Tests) listed in their individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan. These pre-approved graphic organizers and reference sheets may not be altered.

Public Forums on Changes in Light of the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act:

The Department continues to seek input on possible changes to the Massachusetts' accountability system and other aspects of education in light of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). As ESE starts to draft the Commonwealth's ESSA plan, ESE will hold five public forums to gather feedback. Register here for one of the following events, all of which will run from 6-7:30 p.m.

  • Monday, November 14, second floor of the Bolling Building, 2300 Washington St., Roxbury
  • Monday, November 21, Oak Middle School, 45 Oak St., Shrewsbury
  • Tuesday, November 29, Brockton High School, 470 Forest Ave., Brockton
  • Thursday, December 1, Holyoke High School, 500 Beech St., Holyoke
  • Tuesday, December 6, Collins Middle School, 29 Highland Ave., Salem

Student Government Day:

Student Government Day is not until April 7, 2017, but student delegates and alternates are traditionally elected on Election Day (November 8 this year). Please see the link for more information.

ESE Resource Corner

Induction and mentoring report: The 2016 Statewide Induction and Mentoring Report is posted online. In addition to detailing current practices, it includes examples of promising induction and mentoring practices from a range of Massachusetts schools.

For Your Info:

  • Farm-to-School Month: The Baker-Polito Administration recently celebrated October as Massachusetts Farm-to-School Month. Last year, Massachusetts school districts invested $10.3 million in local food, with the average school district spending 21 percent of its budget on local products. Approximately 114 farms across the state provide food to school cafeterias, according to the Department of Agricultural Resources. On a related note, Angela Tagtow, executive director of the U.S. Department of Education's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, visited the Somerville Public Schools earlier this month to learn more about Somerville's Food and Nutrition Services program and that community's Farm to School work.
  • Poetry Out Loud: Registration for this year's Poetry Out Loud competition is open for high schools. The competition is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and is run in the Commonwealth by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Huntington Theatre Company. For more information or to register, please contact or visit

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Last Updated: October 31, 2016
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