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Commissioner's Weekly Update - February 14, 2014

New Charter School and Virtual School Recommendations:

On Friday, Commissioner Chester announced his recommendations to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for the granting of two new charters to groups seeking to open schools in Fall River and Springfield, and approval of one expansion request from an existing Fall River charter school seeking to add seats to its current enrollment. In addition, the Commissioner will recommend that the Board approve the Commonwealth's second virtual school, based on a proposal from The Education Cooperative in Dedham. The Board will vote on the Commissioner's recommendations at its Feb. 25 meeting. For more info, go to

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to Meet on Feb. 24-25:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet on Feb. 24-25 in Malden. At the Feb. 24 special meeting, the Board will discuss the current state of civic engagement in schools and opportunities to strengthen that engagement. State Senator Richard Moore, who chaired the Special Commission on Civic Engagement and Learning, will discuss the Commission's report and progress made on its recommendations. A team from Malden Public Schools will present on the district's community-service learning program. At the Feb. 25 regular meeting, the Board will discuss and vote to send out for public comment proposed amendments to the Regulations on Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, and the Regulations on Educator License Renewal, to address requirements for the Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing educator licenses. The Board will hear updates on Level 5 schools and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The Board will vote on recommendations for new charter school and virtual school applicants, as well as an expansion request from an existing charter school. The Board will also vote on several other charter school matters.

Update on PARCC Field Test:

On Monday, the Department released the list of public schools where students in grades 3-11 will try out a new computer-based assessment that has the potential to deliver clearer signals to schools, colleges, employers, and parents about what students know and can do and whether they are on the pathway to success after high school. As of Feb. 6, about 81,000 students from 1,071 schools in 346 districts across the state will take a PARCC field test in English language arts or mathematics. Since September, the Department has worked with participating schools to choose a representative sample of students to take the field test, which begins in late March. For more info, go to

Commissioner Chester has also recorded a short message about the PARCC field test. You can view that video on the Department's PARCC page at

AP Participation and Success Rates Continue to Rise:

More Massachusetts public high school graduates are succeeding on Advanced Placement (AP) exams today than took them a decade ago, according to the 10th Annual AP Report to the Nation from the College Board. Last year, 27.9% of MA public high school graduates in the class of 2013 scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam during high school, up from 25.5% two years ago and 16.8% a decade ago. A score of 3 or higher on an AP exam is predicative of college success and college graduation. For more info, go to

District-Determined Measures Update:

The Department has made available the template for districts to submit District-Determined Measures (DDMs) Implementation Plans. Using that template, which is available online at, districts should email completed plans by June 1, 2014 to As indicated in Commissioner's August 15, 2013 memo, at the time of submission, districts may request a one-year extension for specific grades/subjects or courses for which DDMs have not yet been identified. Such extensions will be conditioned on ongoing district progress in implementing DDMs and a clear plan for utilizing the extension. The extension request form is included with the template (see the blue tab). Please direct any questions about the template or extension request form to Ron Noble at

Community Eligibility Provision Information Session:

There is now a new alternative to the traditional meal application process associated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) will be offered to schools in all states beginning in school year 2014-15. All eligible high poverty local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools that elect to participate in CEP must agree to offer all enrolled students breakfast and lunch at no cost. The Department will host an informational session about CEP on Feb. 26 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. in Marlborough. To register, go to To learn more about CEP, go to

For Your Info:

  • 2014 TELL MASS – Extension to Complete Survey: The Department has extended the deadline to complete the 2014 TELL Mass Survey to Monday, Mar. 3. If you are an educator who did not receive an access code for your school, please contact the Help Desk at 800-310-2964 or As a reminder, Race to the Top districts and schools are required to participate in the survey. To learn more and view additional resources, go to
  • Profiles – User Survey: The Department is seeking feedback from users of the Profiles website to inform its examination of current functionality and future potential use. The Department provides Profiles as the central online repository for sharing public education data. Please share your feedback through the anonymous survey posted at Responses are due by Feb. 28. Thank you in advance for your participation in this survey.
  • Next Weekly Update: As many schools will close next week for school vacation, we will not publish a Weekly Update on Feb. 21. The next update will be on Feb. 28.

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 18, 2014
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