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Commissioner's Weekly Update - February 1, 2013

Student Discipline Law - Update:

The State Auditor's Division of Local Mandates (DLM) has issued a determination regarding the recently enacted An Act Relative to Student Access to Educational Services and Exclusion from School. DLM's analysis, conducted at the request of the Town of Leverett and the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District, focused on section 9 of the act, which requires districts to provide alternative educational services to students who are under extended exclusion from school. DLM concluded that the act's proposed funding of this requirement through the general availability of Chapter 70 aid and additional circuit breaker reimbursements was not sufficient under the Local Mandate Law, and therefore the requirement represents an unfunded state mandate. Districts are reminded that this requirement is not scheduled to take effect until the 2014-15 school year, so there will be ample opportunity to discuss the Auditor's findings and take appropriate actions. The law also requires ESE to provide the Legislature with estimates of the anticipated implementation costs by next November.

Educator Evaluation E-Newsletter:

ESE's Educator Evaluation team has developed a new e-newsletter to keep district and school leaders, educators, and other interested parties informed about the implementation of the new educator evaluation framework. Each month, the e-newsletter will include key information and resources, reminders about upcoming events and deadlines, and news and stories of innovative practices used by schools and districts across the Commonwealth. To read the first edition, go to To receive future editions automatically, you may subscribe at

Board Meeting Recap:

At its Jan. 28-29 meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education discussed joint initiatives with higher education to promote college and career readiness. The Board voted to acknowledge the withdrawal of the renewal application for the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, approved regulations related to educational collaboratives and Innovation Schools, and authorized Commissioner Chester to issue requests for proposals to invite applicants seeking to open a MA virtual school (see below). The Board heard an update on the state education budget, voted on conditions or probation for three charter schools, voted on major amendments for four charter schools, and heard information on new charter applicants.

Virtual Schools Update:

The recently enacted virtual schools legislation (chapter 379 of the acts of 2012) authorizes the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to issue certificates for the operation of Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual Schools (CMVS). We are currently limited (through June 2016) to 3 virtual schools, each of which must be sponsored by one or more school committees and/or educational collaboratives. There will be two application cycles. The first, this spring, will be limited to the existing virtual innovation school (MAVA@Greenfield) operated by the Greenfield School Committee. This school is grandfathered under the statute and our intent is to allow the school to continue in operation next year. The second application cycle, for new schools, will begin in the fall, with final decisions by the Board in Feb. 2014. This will allow for the potential opening of one or two new schools in Sept. 2014. During this time we will also develop regulations and policy guidance to address the many unique aspects of virtual schooling. For further info, please contact Luis Rodriguez, director of ESE's Office of Digital Learning, at

ESE Staff Updates:

Dr. Heather Peske will join ESE on Feb. 14 as associate commissioner for educator quality, reporting to Deputy Commissioner Alan Ingram. Heather was most recently the vice president for programs at Teach Plus, a nationally-recognized organization that works to improve outcomes for urban children by ensuring that a greater proportion of students have access to effective, experienced teachers. Heather holds a doctorate in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

For Your Info:

  • Digital Learning Month: Governor Patrick has proclaimed Feb. 2013 to be Digital Learning Month to recognize the key role digital technology can play to improve teaching and learning. For more info on activities happening this month, go to
  • New Study on Title I Commendation Schools: ESE has published a new report on the effective practices developed and used by 26 Title I Commendation Schools in Massachusetts that have created a culture of change and successfully implemented practices that led to improved student performance. To view the report, go to


Subscriber Information: 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) 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: February 1, 2013
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