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Commissioner's Weekly Update - May 12, 2017

Systems Upgrade Planned for This Weekend:

Staff will be making upgrades to ESE's technical infrastructure this weekend. All Security Portal applications and some parts of the ESE website will be unavailable during this time. The upgrade is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Friday, May 12, 2017, and applications will be unavailable until 7 a.m. Monday, May 15.

2018 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year:

On May 9, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Commissioner Chester went to North Quincy High School to announce that science teacher Cara Pekarcik is the 2018 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. Ms. Pekarcik, who has taught at the school for 11 years and participated in a research trip to Antarctica, thanked her students, saying, "There is kindness, respect, and empathy in this group of students." Congratulations, Ms. Pekarcik!

Information for 2017-18 Charter School Application Cycle:

The 2017-2018 charter application and expansion cycle will begin this summer. The Department will accept charter applications and charter amendments for most communities, with the exception of 40 districts which are at the limit established by statute. Estimates of seats available in all other districts are available online for download.

Any district impacted by a charter application or request for expansion will receive a copy of the submission so that the district can provide written comment to ESE regarding the application or request.

The first deadlines for applicants are as follows:

  • Noon on June 15:

    • Deadline for all applicant groups who would be new operators to notify ESE of their intent to submit a charter school prospectus application.
    • Deadline for an existing Massachusetts charter school board of trustees who wishes to create another charter school to notify ESE of their intent to apply for a new charter.

  • Noon on August 1: Deadline for charter prospectuses and expansion requests to increase maximum enrollment and/or change grade spans.

Anyone with questions about the availability of seats, providing comment, the charter application process, the charter amendment process, or the proven provider requirement can contact Alyssa Hopkins (781-338-3219 or

Update on Proposed Change to Licensure Regulations:

The April 14 Commissioner's Weekly Update included information about several proposed licensure changes, including one to clarify the conduct that may result in license sanctions. The proposed regulatory changes to this section (603 CMR 7.15(8)(a)1.b.) concern a very small number of licensed educators who are reported to have engaged in misconduct that calls into question their sound moral character and fitness to hold an educator license. (One example of such misconduct is having a sexual relationship with a student.) The proposed changes to that section of the regulations were meant to clarify rather than expand the types of misconduct that could lead to license action.

Public comment on the proposal was due May 1, and ESE is reviewing all the public comments received. ESE appreciates the feedback and will take it into account in making final recommendations to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education before its regular meeting in June.

Update and Reminder on Standard-Setting Panel Recruitment:

At this time, ESE is pleased to announce that, in addition to previously offered reimbursements, stipends will be offered to all panelists selected to serve during the standard-setting event this summer.

As a reminder, ESE 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. More information, including details on stipends and reimbursements, is available online. Applications are due Friday, May 19.

Equity Plan Update:

The Department has released an update to its 2015 equity plan. The 2017 Massachusetts State Plan to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators includes data the state must report under federal law and is designed to address gaps in students' access to strong educators, particularly students who are economically disadvantaged, students of color, English learners and students with disabilities.

Study on Experiences of Students Whose First Language Is Not English:

On May 11, the Center for Promise, the Boston-based research institute of America's Promise Alliance, released a report called "I Came Here to Learn: The Achievements and Experiences of Massachusetts Students Whose First Language Is Not English." Many students whose first language is not English show high levels of motivation but are graduating at lower rates than their peers. As states such as Massachusetts try to find new ways to support students, the report offers new perspective on the students' lives.

Massachusetts Survey on Personalized Learning:

The Department is partnering with the LearnLaunch Institute on the Massachusetts Personalized Learning Edtech Consortium (MAPLE) to catalyze the adoption of personalized learning in the Commonwealth. To that end, MAPLE is surveying districts to get a general overview of where they stand with respect to personalized learning.

The voluntary survey will be open through May 31 and should take no more than 20 minutes. The consortium is hoping for a significant participation rate in order to understand needs and opportunities to support districts' work. Respondents are asked to fill out as much as they have time to complete. Answers will be kept anonymous, and responses will be summarized. No district will be identified in reports.

Second Annual Civics Literacy Conference:

On Monday May 8, ESE held its Second Annual Civics Literacy Conference at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate in Boston. More than 250 educators and representatives from community organizations convened to focus on the role civic learning plays in maintaining our democracy and steps that may be taken to increase civic knowledge and engagement among K-12 students. This year, the conference, entitled "Civic Engagement in a Connected World: Effective Practices for the Learners of Today and the Leaders of Tomorrow," focused on the global and digital connections that make up the fabric of today's world. Speakers included Jean MacCormack, president of the Kennedy Institute, Secretary of Education James Peyser, Senior Associate Commissioner Heather Peske, Isa Zimmerman of the Global STEM Education Center, and Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler. Workshop sessions focused on what educators can do to support students in navigating the challenges and opportunities of this age of the digital revolution and global citizenship. The Department is grateful to all the presenters for sharing their expertise and to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for hosting the event.

For Your Info:

  • Harvard Case Method Project: The Case Method Project at Harvard University is inviting teachers to join its 2017-18 program. The Project was created to introduce the case method, which has been so effective at Harvard Business School, to secondary education and to use this methodology to teach U.S. history, government, civics, and democracy. Teachers participating in the program will attend a workshop at Harvard from September 17-19, 2017 and then teach approximately four cases during the school year (three to five class sessions per case). All expenses of the workshop, including room and board, are covered, and all course materials are free. Anyone interested should get in touch with the Project's coordinator, Joanna Beinhorn, at

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: May 12, 2017
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