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Commissioner's Weekly Update - February 28, 2014

Board Recap:

At its Feb. 24 special meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education discussed the current state of civic engagement in schools. The Board heard an update from State Senator Richard Moore on the recommendations of the Special Commission on Civic Engagement and Learning, which he chaired. Judi Allen, director of social studies and foreign language for the Malden Public Schools, provided the Board with an overview of Malden's community-service learning program.

At the Feb. 25 regular meeting, the Board discussed and voted to solicit public comment on 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. Commissioner Chester provided an update on the four Level 5 schools and on PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The Board voted to grant a virtual school certificate to the founders of TEC Connections Academy Commonwealth Virtual School, which will become the state's second virtual school when it opens in fall 2014. The Board voted to grant new charters to two Commonwealth charter schools, the Argosy Collegiate Charter School in Fall River, which will open in fall 2014, and the Springfield Preparatory Charter School in Springfield, which will open in fall 2015. The Board voted to approve an expansion request for Atlantis Charter School, an existing Commonwealth charter school in Fall River, to add 583 seats to its current enrollment. For more info on the Board's votes to approve the new virtual school, two new charter schools, and the expansion request, go to

In other charter school matters, the Board voted to approve the consolidation of Match Charter Public School and Match Community Day Charter Public School under a single charter as Match Charter Public School and impose conditions to clarify the relationships between the Match charter schools and their associated private entities. The Board voted to place Dorchester Collegiate Academy Charter School on probation and renew the school's charter with conditions. The Board also authorized the Commissioner to act on its behalf to approve the pending contract between Roxbury Preparatory Charter School and Uncommon Schools, a management organization, pending the Department's satisfactory completion of a review of the contract.

Upcoming Webinars on the Draft Revised STE Standards:

The Department will host two informational webinars for school administrators on the recently released Draft Revised Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Standards, posted online at Participants will hear strategies and options for how schools might use the draft revised standards over the next several years prior to their anticipated adoption in 2015-16. The webinars will take place on Tuesday, Mar. 11 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and Wednesday, Mar. 12 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. To register for either webinar, go to

PARCC Communications Tools – New Parent Letter:

The Department has posted new resources for use by schools to inform parents about the upcoming Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) field test. Four previously posted parent resources are now available in Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. We have also posted a sample letter from the school principal to parents of students selected to take a PARCC field test this spring. This sample letter, which we encourage you to use or adapt as part of your outreach to parents, is meant for districts where students selected for PARCC will also take the MCAS test in the same subject.

Model Curriculum Units – Upcoming Webinar:

The Department in partnership with WGBH will host an upcoming webinar on the Model Curriculum Units (MCUs), which were developed by the Department and Massachusetts educators for use by classroom teachers. To date, there are more than 80 MCUs aligned to the MA Curriculum Frameworks in English language arts/literacy, history and social science, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering. The webinar will provide an overview of the key features of the MCUs, specifically those in history and social science, and highlight ways that teachers can use the literacy standards to augment history and social science instruction. Go to to register for the Monday, Mar. 10, 2014 webinar. To provide feedback and inform the Department's ongoing revision of the MCUs, we encourage you to complete a 5-10 minute survey at

ESE Staff Update:

Commissioner Chester recently promoted JC Considine to the position of chief of staff. JC will manage the day-to-day operations of the Commissioner's Office, including support to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, media relations and strategic communications, coordination with the Governor's Office and the Governor's education secretariat, and liaison with key external stakeholders and partners. JC has been with the Department since Dec. 2002.

For Your Info:

  • 2014 TELL MASS Survey: The survey window will close at midnight on 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 – Deadline Extended: 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 Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2014. Thank you in advance for your participation in this survey.

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Last Updated: March 4, 2014
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