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Commissioner's Weekly Update - Commissioner Search, MCAS and Accountability Information, Early Warning and College Success Webinar - October 6, 2017

Commissioner Search:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has launched a nation-wide search for a new commissioner to succeed the late Mitchell Chester. The Board welcomes public input about the search, including suggestions about the qualifications candidates should possess. Such input may be submitted to for review. In addition, the Board will welcome public comment on the search at its next regular meeting, which will be on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 in Malden.

2017 MCAS and Accountability Information:

The Department has scheduled a webinar for superintendents at noon on Thursday, October 12 in order to discuss the next-generation MCAS and projected statewide results with ESE assessment and accountability staff. The Department has also scheduled a conference call for superintendents with Acting Commissioner Wulfson at noon on Tuesday, October 17, at which time districts should have their embargoed results. While the timing of the webinar and call could change, superintendents are encouraged to hold both times on their calendars. Superintendents will receive more information in an On the Desktop email closer to those dates.

The Department continues to roll out resources related to both the next-generation MCAS and 2017 accountability designations. Next-generation MCAS materials for parents include an updated parent's guide and frequently asked questions document.

School and district leaders can find general information on 2017 accountability determinations online, including a glossary of reporting terms and the "School Leader's Guide to the 2017 Accountability Determinations".

Early Warning and College Success Webinar:

The Department's Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS) team will offer a webinar called Early Warning and College Success at 1 p.m. October 10. The webinar is designed for high school leaders, guidance counselors and others interested in understanding whether their high school students are on track for success in college. The team will discuss three college success milestones – college enrollment, academic readiness, and college persistence – and demonstrate several new reports in Edwin. Educators can use these reports and the Early Warning Indicator System to understand students' college readiness risks, diagnose underlying causes of risk, and develop interventions to suit students' unique strengths and needs. Registration is available online.

Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council to Meet:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council will meet from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 11 at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel, 181 Boston Post Road West, Marlborough. Topics for discussion include 2017 accountability reporting, Massachusetts' Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan updates, the use of gap-closing measures in accountability reporting, and assistance strategies for low-performing schools.

Update on Puerto Rico:

The Department continues to plan for a possible influx of students from Puerto Rico and to consider what additional resources and assistance might be needed. As native Puerto Rican students arrive, districts are asked to please enter students promptly into the district's student information system and to indicate Puerto Rico as the students' place of birth. The Department will be monitoring this data weekly through your Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) connections in order to identify where the greatest need is. (Those districts not yet on SIF are asked to keep us apprised of incoming numbers.) Helene Bettencourt and Sarah Slautterback are heading up ESE's response team. Please contact them with have any questions or particular needs.

Recent Changes to the Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval Regulations:

In June, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved a set of changes to the regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval (603 CMR 7.00). The Department has drafted documents in support of the approved revisions and is seeking feedback on the following topics:

  • Subject Matter Knowledge Guidelines – These detail the content topics for each license, and sponsoring organizations use the guidelines to design their teacher preparation programs. The Department uses the guidelines when it reviews programs seeking state approval and as the basis for the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL). The Department is seeking broad input on these guidelines, particularly from content specialists in digital literacy and computer science (a new license area), English language arts/literacy, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering. Public comment will be open until November 3.
  • Foreign Teacher Panel Guidelines – The Board approved a formal process in which ESE can license educators who were prepared outside the United States via a panel review rather than having to make a special appeal to the commissioner. The guidelines outline the types of candidates who could be licensed via this process and provide a checklist of the documents they will need. Public comment will be open until November 3.
  • Provisional Validity Period Guidelines – The Provisional license, formerly called a Preliminary license, will be valid for five years of employment as of July 1, 2019, regardless of how many different fields and grade levels of Provisional licenses an educator possesses. The guidelines provide different scenarios of educators who hold multiple Provisional licenses and how many years of employment they may have remaining under their license when the change takes effect. Public comment will be open until December 8.
  • Pre-Practicum Guidelines: The Department is developing guidelines on the pre-practicum component of educator preparation and has released a set of policy proposals for public comment. The policy proposals address the time, content, and feedback and assessment required in the pre-practicum. Public comment will be open until October 31.

Induction and Mentoring Report:

The Department has released the 2017 Massachusetts Statewide Induction and Mentoring Report, which provides data, resources, and strategies from 276 school districts, charter schools, and educational collaboratives. The report includes information such as how districts work to retain educators and how programs differ according to spending. The Department encourages superintendents to share the report with their colleagues.

ESE Resource Corner:

Grade-by-grade explanations for the 2017 ELA/Literacy and Mathematics curriculum frameworks: The Department recently released grade-by-grade explanations for the 2017 ELA/Literacy and Mathematics frameworks that provide detailed descriptions of the revisions made to the 2010 frameworks for each grade level for 2017. Each document presents the 2010 standard next to the revised 2017 standard, with changes noted in red, along with a brief rationale for the change. These documents supplement the previously released "Highlights" documents, which list some of the key changes for each grade level. Each grade-by-grade document was previously available on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education site as part of the 2017 frameworks revisions process but has now been republished to support teachers and administrators with the transition to the 2017 Frameworks.

For Your Info:

  • Gov. Baker visits Lawrence: On October 3, 2017, Gov. Baker visited Lawrence High School, where he and Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera sat with students at an event to help kick off the high school's new early college program, in which more than 200 students will take college courses at Merrimack College or Northern Essex Community College. Statewide, 2,400 students are enrolled in one of 27 early college programs.
  • Clean Energy Day opportunity: The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a publicly funded agency, is accepting applications for the Clean Energy Activity Day Program. The program offers $8,000 to $10,000 for a one-day, hands-on Clean Energy Activity Day for elementary and middle school students at the students' place of education or at a clean energy business or organization. An optional applicants' webinar will be held at 1 p.m. October 11. Anyone interested in participating in the webinar must register by 4 p.m. October 10. To register, email Andrew Chabot and include "2018 Clean Energy Activity Day Webinar" in the subject line. Applications for the grants are due at 4 p.m. December 8.
  • Webinar on evaluating professional development: The Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands, part of the U.S. Department of Education, is holding a three-part webinar training series on how to plan and execute high-quality evaluations of professional development. The first is October 11.

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 10, 2017
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