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Commissioner's Weekly Update - Commissioner Job Description, Milken Award, Substance Abuse Prevention - November 3, 2017

Job Description Posted for Next Commissioner:

The job description and other documents related to the search for a new commissioner are now posted online on ESE's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education webpage. The description says in part that "The next commissioner will be a thoughtful leader, a skilled communicator, and a change agent with deep knowledge of K-12 policy and practice and experience working in the field." Applications are due December 15, 2017.

Lawrence Educator Receives Milken Award:

Dan Adler, a sixth-grade science teacher at UP Academy Leonard, part of the Lawrence Public Schools, became the state's 44th Milken Educator Award winner on November 1 in a surprise ceremony at the school. With the school's student body looking on, Mr. Adler was presented with a $25,000 check from Milken, which is recognizing up to 45 educators across the country this year. In his remarks at the event, Commissioner Wulfson told the students that he hoped some of them would consider becoming teachers, too.

Mr. Adler said the award was not about him but about "the incredible work all the scholars in this building do every day."

More information about the Milken Educator Awards is available online.

Middle Schools Substance Use Prevention Initiative:

The Attorney General's Office and the GE Foundation have announced the launch of Project Here, an initiative that will make educational resources available to public middle schools at no cost with the goals of raising awareness about the risks and consequences of substance use, de-stigmatizing the disease of addiction, and promoting healthy decision-making. Information about the program and registration can be found at

Board and Commission Training:

The Office of the Inspector General's Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official (MCPPO) Program is holding a free, one-day training about the fiduciary duties and responsibilities of members of public boards, commissions, committees, and authorities. Members of such boards and the public officials who interact with them are encouraged to attend to learn about the keys of effective supervision; identifying fraud, waste and abuse; and the legal requirements applicable to board and commission members. The class will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. November 28, at 1 Ashburton Place, Room 1306 in Boston.

Registration is available online. For additional information on the MCPPO Program or information regarding complaints or program cancellations, please contact Joyce McEntee Emmett, MCPPO director, at (617) 722-8835 or

This course qualifies for six continuing professional education credits, six professional development points, and six MCPPO credits toward recertification.

School Survey Results from Massachusetts School Building Authority:

Over the course of the past year, MSBA sent architectural and engineering experts to every public elementary and secondary school that wasn't either under construction or recently built. The teams assessed the buildings' condition, overcrowding, maintenance, and educational environment.

The results of those assessments are available on the MSBA website. Some highlights:

  • 270 schools (19 percent of the 1,419 schools assessed) require either moderate to extensive renovation or are in poor condition and will need to be renovated in the near future.
  • As public school student enrollment slowly declines, and the state population becomes more concentrated in the greater Boston area and gateway cities, almost a third of schools are under-utilized. By contrast, 7.4 percent of schools are over-utilized.
  • 131 schools are over 100 years old. Sixteen of those 131 have entered the MSBA grant program.

Programme for International Student Assessment:

Every three years since 2000, the United States has been one of the approximately 70 countries participating in the Programme for International Student Assessment, known more commonly as PISA. During each nationwide PISA administration, portions of several Massachusetts schools were designated to participate as part of the U.S. sample. In 2012 and 2015, in addition to having several schools selected to represent the U.S., Massachusetts elected to participate in PISA as its own "nation." In order to provide Massachusetts-specific data, 50 additional schools were sampled, and close to 2,000 students participated.

Massachusetts has decided not to participate as its own nation in PISA's 2018 administration. However, several schools will still be selected in Massachusetts as part of the U.S. sample, with administration taking place in fall 2018. In addition, some schools and districts in Massachusetts have decided to participate in the PISA-based Test for Schools, a set of assessments and surveys adopted at the local level; participation in that program is not affected by the state's decision not to participate as a nation in 2018.

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. Please note that the deadline has been extended to Tuesday, November 14.

Last Updated: November 3, 2017
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