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Commissioner's Weekly Update - April 12, 2013

Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 State Budget Update:

Earlier this week, the House Committee on Ways and Means (HWM) released its FY 2014 budget recommendation. Go to http://www.malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2014/House for additional details. While HWM did not adopt proposed changes to the foundation budget, it did make changes to the local contribution requirements and retained the $25 per pupil minimum aid. Legislators are likely to consider other changes to the formula when the full House and then the Senate take up the budget debate. We will issue the final aid calculations and required local contributions when either the final budget or an earlier local aid resolution is approved.

Cherry Sheet Payments and Charter and Choice Tuition Charges:

Beginning July 1, municipalities and regional school districts will receive their cherry sheet payments, including Chapter 70 state aid, on a monthly rather than quarterly basis. In connection with this change, the Department of Revenue has indicated that it will start assessing districts monthly for charter school and school choice tuition costs, beginning in July of each year. Charter school assessments for July through November will be based on pre-enrollment reports, with adjustments made beginning in December to reflect the actual enrollment levels. ESE also plans to change the schedule of payments to Commonwealth charter schools from quarterly to monthly. That change will require the Board to amend its regulations later this fall. For more information, please contact Roger Hatch in our School Finance office.

Release of Next Generation Science Standards:

Two years ago, Massachusetts joined a collaborative effort with 25 other states to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The final NGSS released this week represent significant progress toward important outcomes for our nation's students. Over the coming months, Massachusetts will engage in a statewide process, including educators and experts from K-12 through higher education, to determine the extent to which NGSS represent our state's desired goals and best path to college and career readiness in science and technology/engineering. Massachusetts, already a leader in science and technology/engineering education, is committed to updating our standards in order to ensure students have the preparation for and the opportunity to engage in this rapidly changing field. We will use the input from educators and other stakeholders across the Commonwealth to help inform this continuing state standards development and adoption process. To view the final NGSS, go to http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards.

PARCC Performance Level Descriptors - Public Comment Period:

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has released for public comment the draft grade and subject-specific performance level descriptors (PLDS) in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The PLDs articulate the knowledge, skills, and practices that students performing at a given level should be able to demonstrate in each content area at each grade level. To view the draft PLDs, as well as FAQs and other related information, go to http://www.parcconline.org/plds. We encourage you to provide feedback on PARCC's draft PLDs through a survey posted online at http://tinyurl.com/c82vbzt. Feedback is due by May 8, 2013.

2013 AP Exam Fee Subsidy Program:

The U.S. Department of Education recently provided ESE with information on appropriations from the U.S. Congress to support the Massachusetts Advanced Placement (AP) Test Fee Subsidy Program for low-income students in 2013. Due to increased participation rates among low-income students and a decrease in federal funding, low-income students will have to pay $15 per exam in 2013, which represents a $5 increase from previous years. As in years past, our goal is to provide a subsidy to as many low-income students as possible. For more information on the state's AP Exam Fee Subsidy Program, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/ap/.

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to Meet on April 22-23:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet on April 22 and 23 in Malden. The April 22 meeting will include an educator evaluation update. The April 23 meeting will include updates on the Lawrence Public Schools Receivership and the state FY14 education budget. The Board will cast votes to solicit public comment on proposed amendments to the school finance regulations, to delegate authority to the commissioner to approve waivers for innovative programs, and to make an appointment to the accountability and assistance advisory council.

Title I Carryover Funds:

Given the uncertainty around the federal budget and the impact of sequestration, the U.S. Department of Education has asked us to remind districts to review their unexpended FY13 Title I funds and to request waivers if needed to carry over funds into FY14. Detailed guidance was provided recently to district Title I directors and is posted on ESE's website at www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=7356. If you need additional information, please contact our Title I office at 781-338-3507 or titlei@doe.mass.edu.

Next Weekly Update:

With many Massachusetts schools out of session next week, we will not publish a Weekly Update on April 19. The next update will be on April 26.

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Last Updated: April 12, 2013
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