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Commissioner's Weekly Update - December 2, 2016

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Recap:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education met November 29, 2016 and sent out for public comment new drafts of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for English Language Arts and Literacy and Mathematics.

The Board also voted to send out for comment proposed amendments to educator evaluations. Public comment on the proposed amendments to educator evaluations will be open through January 27, 2017 and can be sent to edevalcomments@doe.mass.edu. The Board will most likely vote on the final draft of the educator evaluation amendments on February 28.

The Board also approved a 400-student expansion at Foxborough Regional Charter School, heard an update on standard setting for the next-generation MCA, and learned about the latest student discipline data.

Survey on History and Social Science Framework Revision:

As Massachusetts embarks on a revision of the 2003 Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework, ESE encourages educators and others to offer comments on and suggested revisions to the current framework via a survey. The survey takes approximately 10–20 minutes and will remain open until February 6, 2017.

Public Lookup Tool for Licensure:

On November 23, 2016, ESE announced the creation of an online lookup tool that allows the general public to find basic information about public school teachers' licensure status. The Department frequently receives questions about individual educators' licenses. In creating the public lookup, ESE is making that information easier for the public to find and joining the majority of states that already offer such a tool.

The new public lookup is designed only for basic inquiries, so school leaders and hiring officials should continue to access the broader information available to them through the Educator Licensure and Renewal (ELAR) system.

Technology Readiness Survey for Schools with Wi-Fi Needs:

Over the last three fiscal years, ESE and MassIT have provided grant funds to help districts upgrade their school Wi-Fi networks. This year, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) initiated a $10 million loan program for the same purpose. To help us understand the extent to which districts have continuing unmet needs, we are asking that districts complete the brief School Technology Readiness Survey. If completed by someone knowledgeable about the existing infrastructure in the district, the survey should take about 10-15 minutes per school building. (Users can save the survey and return to it later if necessary.) In general, districts must complete the survey no later than Thursday, December 15, 2016 if they plan to seek state technology funding or assistance from ESE or MassIT or technology loans from the MSBA.

Districts that do not have additional Wi-Fi needs can contact a member of the MassIT team (michael.hamel@MassMail.State.MA.US, michael.pineau@mass.gov, or michael.farrell@state.ma.us) for a quick conversation to verify this. The MassIT team can also answers questions about the survey. For policy questions, please contact Kenneth Klau at kklau@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3505.

Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students:

The Department remains committed to supporting all students, regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, ability, or sexual orientation. The Safe Schools Program for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) Students, an anti-bullying initiative of ESE and the Commission on LGBTQ Youth, can assist districts with efforts to create safe and supportive school environments by providing information and resources regarding laws, policies and best practices to ensure that LGBTQ students have access to the education they need to thrive; Training and technical assistance on building safe and supportive environments for LGBTQ students; and networking and skill-building opportunities for student leaders and adult advisors through the Massachusetts Gender and Sexuality Alliance Leadership Council.

The Department encourages student leaders and adult advisors to participate in the upcoming Gender and Sexuality Alliance Leadership Council meetings in December. More information on the Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students, including registration information for the leadership council meetings, is available online in this memo.

ACCESS for ELLs Results, Standard Setting, and 2016-2017 Revised Reclassification Criteria:

Massachusetts administered the new ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 English proficiency assessment for the first time in January and February using a combination of computer- and paper-based forms for students in grades 1-12. Results were reported in May.

During the summer, WIDA, supported by their partner, the Center for Applied Linguistics, conducted a study and set new limits defining the lower and upper ends of each proficiency level on ACCESS 2.0. This online message discusses the results of the study and how it will affect how students are classified. The ELL Assessment Update sent on November 28 to English language learner directors also provided details on the revised reclassification criteria for 2016?2017.

For more information about the placement and reclassification of English learners, contact the Office of English Language Acquisition and Academic Achievement at ell@doe.mass.edu or 781 338-3584. For more information regarding ACCESS results or the proficiency levels on the test, please contact Student Assessment Services at either access@doe.mass.edu or 781-338-3625.

Trainers Available for Course on Pre-K and Kindergarten Social and Emotional Standards:

Trainers are available to present to schools and districts the state's newly-developed, 10-hour, six-module introductory course on the Massachusetts Preschool and Kindergarten Social and Emotional Learning and Approaches to Play and Learning standards. To receive a list of available trainers, email Jane Haltiwanger at jhaltiwanger@doe.mass.edu.

The course is designed to familiarize participants with the standards and includes sections on orienting participants to the standards and on social and emotional learning curriculum and instruction, assessment, family engagement, and the administrative role in supporting social and emotional learning and approaches to play and learning.

ESE Resource Corner

MCAS Training: Student Assessment Services has created a new web page listing all of the training opportunities in assessment.

For Your Info:

  • Dissemination Fair: The Department was proud to announce its first Dissemination Fair. It was held November 18 and featured a variety of schools learning from each other.
  • More STEM internships: The Baker-Polito Administration recently announced expanded opportunities for high school students to intern at companies involved in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • Financial Education Fairs: Districts are invited to work with the state treasurer's office to hold a Financial Education Fair, in which participants simulate day-to-day budgetary decisions based on assigned occupations and financial situations. More information on organizing a fair and applying for funding is available online.
  • Turnaround in Lawrence: The Council of Chief State School Officers recently released a video about turnaround progress in Lawrence Public Schools.

Subscriber Information: Superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, and charter school leaders will receive the update automatically. For others wishing to subscribe, send an email to imailsrv@list1.doe.mass.edu with the following information in the body of the email: subscribe ESEUpdate Your Name. (Example: subscribe ESEUpdate John Smith) Leave the subject line blank. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with the following information in the body: unsubscribe ESEUpdate Your Name. (Example: unsubscribe ESEUpdate John Smith)



Last Updated: December 5, 2016
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