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Commissioner's Weekly Update - February 8, 2013

Congratulations to Chelsea Public Schools:

The College Board has named Chelsea Public Schools an Advanced Placement Equity and Excellence District of the Year nationwide for being the nation's leader, among small school districts, in expanding access to AP classes and simultaneously improving AP Exam performance. For more info, go to

Race to the Top - Year 2 Report:

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has released state-specific reports to highlight the second-year accomplishments and challenges of the 12 states awarded Race to the Top (RTTT) funding during the first two phases of the grant. To see the USED report on Massachusetts, go to ESE's own Year 2 RTTT report is located at

New Series on Curriculum Alignment & Mapping:

ESE, in partnership with the Governor's Readiness Centers, has developed a new series on curriculum mapping as a core tool for communicating about and aligning curriculum and instruction across grades, subject areas, and schools. During the series, which includes two webinars, a two-day summer institute, and follow-up activities, participants will discuss the status of curriculum mapping in their districts, gain access to exemplary models and other support resources, and use guided planning time to take their curriculum planning to the next level. The series will launch with an introductory webinar scheduled in early March (Thursday, March 7 from 9-10 a.m. or 1-2 p.m., or Friday, March 8 from 1-2 p.m.). To register for the introductory webinar, go to The complete series, which is funded by a Race to the Top grant, will include:

  • Webinar 1: Introduction (March 7 and 8)
  • Webinar 2: Mapping Common Core Shifts in ELA, Math, or History (May/June)
  • Summer Institute: Guided Team Time (2-day regional institutes, June/July)
  • Webinar 3: Sharing Examples (Fall 2013)
  • Session at 6th Annual ESE Curriculum & Instruction Summit (Nov. 6 or 7, 2013)
  • Wiki with examples and other resources
  • Coaching Support

Curriculum mapping, webinars, institutes, and resources will be made available to all MA public school districts.

Students with Disabilities in Extracurricular Activities:

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights recently issued a Dear Colleague Letter on the participation of students with disabilities in extracurricular athletics. The letter provides an overview of the obligations of public elementary and secondary schools under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and the Department's Section 504 regulations; cautions schools against making decisions based on presumptions and stereotypes; details the specific Section 504 regulations that require students with disabilities to have an equal opportunity for participation in nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities; and discusses the provision of separate or different athletic opportunities. To read the letter, go to

For Your Info:

  • Anticipated Grant Opportunity: As a result of the state's NCLB flexibility request, which was granted in Feb. 2012, ESE anticipates awarding a portion of available MA 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) funding for FY14 through a competitive grant to support extending the school day or year as well as for expanding the school year to reduce summer learning loss in a limited number of schools. This award is subject to federal appropriation. ESE also anticipates directing a portion of available funding to competitive grant programs for out-of-school time programs (both new and exemplary), in addition to offering continuation grants for eligible 21st CCLC sites that have not yet completed their funding cycles. ESE will offer an upcoming webinar on Feb. 27 and in-person session in Malden on Mar. 8 for potential applicants. Further updates will be posted to
  • Edwin Analytics: The first series of reports are now available in Edwin Analytics through the Security Portal, and include reports for the Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS) and Postsecondary Enrollment and Outcomes. Districts must grant all access; ESE will not provide any access. Users with previously assigned Education Data Warehouse roles will automatically have access to the new reports; other users should contact their Directory Administrator to gain access. For more info on the new reports, go to If you have any questions, please contact
  • PARCC Update: The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has released a draft writing access accommodation policy for public comment. The writing access accommodation will provide writing access supports-specifically, a scribe and word-prediction software-on the PARCC English language arts (ELA)/literacy tests under development to selected students with disabilities who meet the eligibility criteria. This policy is very similar to our current policy for MCAS. We encourage you to review the draft policy at, once it is posted later today, and provide feedback by Feb. 19.
  • Arbor Day Poster Contest: The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has announced plans for the 2013 Arbor Day Poster Contest, which annually includes over 1,500 MA 5th graders. Each year, DCR comes up with a theme to encourage students to think about trees in new ways. Contest winners reap rewards including art supplies, ice cream, and a tree for their schools. This year's entry deadline is April 19. For more info, go to


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Last Updated: February 8, 2013
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