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Commissioner's Weekly Update - December 20, 2013

We wish you and yours a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season and 2014.

Edwin Teaching and Learning – Offer to Non-RTTT Districts:

Edwin is the Commonwealth's new teaching and learning platform launched last winter to provide educators with tools, resources, and reports to improve teaching, learning, and educational outcomes. Edwin has two separate applications – Edwin Analytics and Edwin Teaching and Learning (Edwin T&L). Edwin Analytics, which went live in January 2013, is a vehicle for reporting student, educator, and program data that spans multiple years and connects across agencies. Edwin T&L, which Race to the Top (RTTT) districts are currently using, provides educators with curriculum planning tools, model curriculum units, online instructional resources, and a variety of assessment tools and reports aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, which incorporate the Common Core State Standards.

During the 2014-15 school year, the Department will make Edwin T&L available free of charge to non-RTTT districts. In an effort to secure the best pricing with our vendor, we need to know as soon as possible which non-RTTT districts are interested in receiving free access to the system during the 2014-15 school year. If you are a non-RTTT district that is interested and you are able to respond by Dec. 31, 2013, please do so by emailing EdwinT&L@doe.mass.edu. Otherwise, please respond by Jan. 10, 2014.

Update on Implementation of National Background Checks:

As noted in the Board Recap below, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted final regulations this week for the upcoming national background checks. MorphoTrust, the vendor selected by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) to perform the fingerprinting, is still in the process of setting up locations around the state and testing the website for scheduling appointments. As soon as these are ready to go, EOPSS will provide all school employers with detailed information and instructions.

New Grant Opportunity for STEM Educators:

The Department has developed a new grant opportunity, the Massachusetts Mathematics and Science Partnership (MMSP), to improve student achievement in science, technology/ engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Districts and institutions of higher education may apply to collaborate in professional development opportunities that increase the subject matter knowledge and improve the standards-based instructional practices of STEM educators. The Department will host a webinar on this new grant opportunity for interested parties on Jan. 10, 2014 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Please contact the Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Engineering at mathsciencetech@doe.mass.edu for more info on the webinar. To learn more about the grant, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/grants/grants14/rfp/150-B.html.

Board Recap:

At its Dec. 16 special meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education heard updates on digital learning in Massachusetts public schools and the Department's progress in implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on Integrating College and Career Readiness. At its Dec. 17 regular meeting, the Board discussed the recent Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results and heard a report on the Department's support to districts to integrate curriculum frameworks and educator evaluation.

In addition, the Board voted to support Commissioner Chester's recommendation to extend the implementation timeline for the new educator evaluation system beyond the dates in current regulations. Prior to the amendment, regulations required that full implementation of the educator evaluation system – including measuring impact on student learning (District-Determined Measures or DDMs) and student and staff surveys for educators at all grades and subjects – occur during the 2013-14 school year. The Commissioner recommended that the 2013-14 school year be used by districts to research and pilot DDMs as well as student and staff surveys.

The Board voted to adopt regulations related to the new background checks law for school employees, and to send out for public comment proposed amendments to the Charter School Regulations and the new Virtual School Regulations. The Board discussed the student discipline law that takes effect next July and reviewed the Department's cost study of the law, recently filed with the Legislature. The Board also voted to adopt an amendment for Lowell Community Charter Public School and to extend the existing conditions and add two new conditions for Mystic Valley Regional Charter School.

For Your Info:

  • Notice of Public Comment – Virtual Schools: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is soliciting public comment on proposed new regulations and proposed amendments relating to virtual schools, including the proposed new Virtual Schools Regulations, 603 CMR 52.00; the proposed amendments to 603 CMR 48.00, Virtual Schools Regulations; and the proposed technical amendments to 603 CMR 28.00, Special Education Regulations. The deadline for submission of public comment is January 24, 2014. We anticipate that the Board will vote on the proposed regulations at its March 25, 2014 regular meeting. Interested parties may submit comment to the Department by mail to the Office of Digital Learning, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148; or by email to odl@doe.mass.edu.
  • Notice of Public Comment – Charter Schools: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is soliciting public comment on the proposed amendments to 603 CMR 1.00, Charter School Regulations. The deadline for submission of public comment is January 24, 2014. We anticipate that the Board will vote on the proposed amendments at its March 25, 2014 regular meeting. Interested parties may submit comment to the Department by mail to the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148; by fax to 781-338-3220; or by email to charterschools@doe.mass.edu.
  • Curriculum Summit Materials: In early November, the Department held its 6th Annual Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Summit. The focus of this year's summit was the integration between curriculum and instruction and educator evaluation. The entire summit program focused on using Curriculum Embedded Performance Assessments (CEPA), which are contained in each of the Model Curriculum Units, as a starting place for the development on District-Determined Measures (DDMs).
  • Next Weekly Update: In observation of the holidays and New Year, we will not publish a Weekly Update on Dec. 27 or Jan. 3. The next update will be on Jan. 10.



Last Updated: December 23, 2013
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