Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Go to Selected Program Area
Massachusetts State Seal
Students & Families Educators & Administrators Teaching, Learning & Testing Data & Accountability Finance & Funding About the Department Education Board  

RSS Feeds Available

Commissioner's Weekly Update - March 24, 2017

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to Meet:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 28, 2017 in Malden. The agenda includes an update from Lawrence Public Schools Receiver Jeff Riley, a vote on whether to adopt revised English language arts and literacy and mathematics learning standards, a final discussion of the state's plan in response to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, and a vote on the achievement level descriptions for the next-generation MCAS. The meeting will be Livestreamed at

School Climate Questionnaire Included with MCAS:

For the last 15 years, the 8th and 10th grade MCAS exams have included questionnaires that generally focused on academics and students' classroom experience. This year, the fifth, eighth and tenth grade MCAS exams include a questionnaire focused on school climate. One of ESE's strategic priorities is to support students' social-emotional learning, health, and safety, and the agency is piloting the school climate questionnaire as a way to collect more information on those areas. Students' responses to the questionnaire do not affect their MCAS scores, and students are free to answer all, some, or none of the questions on the questionnaire. A frequently asked questions document about the questionnaire is posted online. Parents who would like to see the questionnaire should contact their principal or superintendent.

District and school leaders who would like more information on this year's MCAS questionnaire project can contact Shelagh Peoples of the Office and Planning Research at

Reminder about Federal Budget Discussions:

The Department is keeping a close eye on federal budget deliberations. Note that most changes being discussed at the federal level would not affect Massachusetts school district budgets until the 2018-19 school year.

Community forum with Commissioner Chester:

Nipmuc Regional High School is hosting a Blackstone Valley community forum on K-12 education with Commissioner Chester from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 29 in the school's auditorium at 90 Pleasant St. in Upton. Refreshments and registration will start at 6 p.m., the commissioner's presentation will start at 6:30 p.m., and a question-and-answer session will follow. The event is free, but attendees are asked to register at

Save the Date: Civics Literacy Conference May 8:

On Monday, May 8, 2017, ESE and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate will host the second annual civics literacy conference, this year entitled "Civic Engagement in a Connected World: Effective Practices for the Learners of Today and the Leaders of Tomorrow." The conference will explore how educators can help students navigate the challenges and opportunities of this age of digital revolution and global citizenship. Presenters will include K-12 educators as well as representatives from state, education, and community organizations. The event is free and will run from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Department will notify educators via the Commissioner's Weekly Update and other announcements when registration opens in early April.

For Your Info:

  • Social studies conference: The Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies encourages educators to attend the 47th annual New England Regional Conference on April 3-4, 2017 at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston. This year, the conference, entitled "Building a Stronger Citizenry through a Well-Rounded Education," will feature a variety of workshop sessions and keynote speakers and will include access to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and the Commonwealth Museum.
  • Save the date: Bias-Based Incidents in Schools: Babson College and Boston Public Schools' Office of Equity are hosting a one-day, statewide conference for school and district leaders on "Emerging Best Practices: Preventing and Addressing Bias-Based Incidents in Schools" from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 10 at Babson's Boston campus. For more information, contact
  • Outstanding principal award: Commissioner Chester recently presented Christopher Getchell, principal of the Parkview Elementary School in Easton, with this year's Thomas C. Passios Outstanding Principal Award from the Massachusetts Elementary School Principals' Association. Congratulations, Mr. Getchell!
  • VISTA: Educator voices were heard!: The Department would like to thank the superintendents and principals who participated in VISTA 2017. Two hundred twenty-nine superintendents (57 percent) and 966 principals (52 percent) provided feedback to ESE. These response rates are tremendous and will help ESE program offices better target resources, grants, and supports to districts and schools. The Department will post the results on the Office of Planning and Research's webpage before the end of the school year and will invite educators to a VISTA 2017 webinar upon release. Thank you again to everyone who filled out this year's VISTA survey!
  • USED IDEA website: In an effort to provide updated, easy-to-navigate Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) resources to children with disabilities, families, teachers, administrators, advocates, and other stakeholders, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services is seeking input from people who use the web site. Comments can be submitted online.

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: March 26, 2017
E-mail this page| Print View| Print Pdf  
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Search · A-Z Site Index · Policies · Site Info · Contact DESE