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Commissioner's Weekly Update - April 28, 2017

Material to be Assessed on 2018 Science and Technology/Engineering MCAS Tests:

The Department is pleased to present information regarding the "overlapping" standards from the 2001/2006 and 2016 science and technology/engineering standards that will be assessed on the 2018 MCAS grade 5 and grade 8 science and technology/engineering tests. The 2018 tests will consist of items that align to both sets of standards. As a reminder, this year's test (2017) is based on the 2001/2006 science and technology/engineering standards.

Standard-Setting Panel Recruitment:

Beginning August 14, ESE will conduct a week-long standard setting event for the next-generation MCAS tests in grades 3–8 English language arts and mathematics. The purpose of the standard setting is to make recommendations about the level of knowledge reflected in each next-generation MCAS achievement level (Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, and Not Meeting Expectations) and to identify appropriate cut scores for each level.

Panels of Massachusetts educators, other stakeholders, and expert facilitators will conduct the standard setting. The Department is looking for panelists with content expertise, familiarity with the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks, and, in most cases, direct teaching experience in the grade and subject matter chosen. Please share this memo widely among educators.

Access for Students with Disabilities to Field Trips and Extracurricular Activities:

The Massachusetts Office on Disability has posted a memo reminding schools districts that districts must consider access for students with disabilities when planning day or overnight school field trips and any other extracurricular activities. When public schools schedule programs at inaccessible locations or provide separate transportation or accommodations for students with disabilities, they risk violating those students' civil rights. For technical assistance on providing equal access for individuals with disabilities, contact the Massachusetts Office on Disability at 617-727-7440 or through their website.

Reminder: May 8 Deadline if MCAS-Alt Participation Rate Will Exceed 1 Percent:

Districts are reminded to submit a "justification letter" to ESE's Student Assessment office if more than 1 percent of students in the district who are eligible for MCAS will be designated for the MCAS-Alt in 2017–2018 by their individualized education program (IEP) teams. This is a new requirement of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and is detailed in Commissioner Chester's March 2 memo. The justification should describe the specific reasons why the percentage of students taking the MCAS-Alt will exceed 1 percent of eligible students and also provide the specific assurances described in the memo.

ESE Resource Corner

Next-generation MCAS monthly update: The next-generation MCAS update is designed to keep stakeholders informed of progress on the Commonwealth's new assessment. (It is different from the student assessment newsletter, which is written for educators and district staff who administer the test.) The latest next-generation update is online and includes a video of a Massachusetts teacher talking about why testing matters to her. Archives of the update are also available online.

For Your Info:

  • Green Difference Award winners: Several Massachusetts public schools and public school students were among the winners of Project Green School's 2017 Green Difference Awards, national awards that recognize outstanding environmental education and science, technology, engineering, and math education. Congratulations to: Anna Shi of Chelmsford High School, recognized as an Outstanding Green Student; Quaboag Middle Innovation School, which won a Green-ovation Award (Green + STEM + Innovation); Rebecca Franks, the principal of West Middle School in Andover, who was named an Outstanding Green Principal; and the Korpita's Kids Green Team at Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg, which won a Sustainability Award in recognition of their outstanding environmental education program with a proven track record of five or more years.
  • Personalized learning convening: The Center for Collaborative Education and The Boston Foundation are holding a free convening, Envisioning an Equitable Future Through Personalized Learning," from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 at Wheelock College in Brookline. The keynote speaker will be Ron Berger of EL Education, and a light breakfast and full lunch will be served.

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: April 28, 2017
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