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Commissioner's Weekly Update - December 23, 2016

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education met December 20, 2017 and discussed plans for next-generation MCAS assessments in high school. Commissioner Chester outlined his recommendation to keep the high school competency determination for English language arts and math at grade 10 for the near future, add a history and social science test to the competency determination, consider eliminating the high school chemistry and technology/engineering tests due to low participation (most students take the biology or introductory physics tests), and explore options for a grade 11 or 12 indicator of college and career readiness.

The Board also learned about efforts to collect public input for the state's plan in response to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The Board will review drafts of the state ESSA plan from January through March, and ESE anticipates sending the plan to the U.S. Department of Education in April.

At the same meeting, Board members also learned about early college programming and potential changes to educator licensure.

The Department has begun to Livestream Board meetings, and while there have been some technical issues as staff learn more about this process, the meetings can be found at

Including Data from Commonwealth Virtual Schools for the School-Attending Children Report:

Cities and towns must complete the School-Attending Children Report by February 24, 2017. To assist districts in collecting relevant data from the state's Commonwealth Virtual Schools (the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield and TEC Connections Academy), the Office of Digital Learning will provide files to districts via Dropbox Central by January 13, 2017. Among other information, the file will contain the first and last name, date of birth, street address, and withdrawal code (if necessary) for each student enrolled in the virtual school between the start of the school year and January 1, 2017. Please contact the Office of Digital Learning with any questions.

For Your Info:

  • RMV expands language options: The MassDOT Registry of Motor Vehicles has begun offering the automated learner's permit knowledge test in 26 additional languages. Customers can take their passenger vehicle (Class D) and motorcycle (Class M) learner's permit tests using a new, automated, and web-based system which randomly generates the test questions and answers. Foreign language tests previously were offered in paper versions.

    The user-friendly touch screen saves customers time, allows for fast and automated test scoring, prevents cheating and fraud through question randomization, and offers ample data capabilities to assist with identifying future business improvements.

    This implementation is state-wide, with the exception of the Chicopee, Haverhill, Natick, and Roslindale Service Centers that do not offer permit tests. The RMV will continue to monitor customer requests and evaluate the need to add more languages to the automated testing system.

***The next Commissioner's Weekly Update will be on January 6, 2017. Happy holidays, and best wishes for a peaceful and joyous 2017!***

Subscriber Information: Superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, and charter school leaders will receive the update automatically. For others wishing to subscribe, send an email to 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 23, 2016
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