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 - May 13, 2016

Guidance on Civil Rights of Transgender Students:

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice today released joint guidance to help schools ensure the civil rights of transgender students, and it is in keeping with the guidance that Massachusetts already developed. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education cites Massachusetts as an example in a second document they released today, "Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students."

Conference on Civic Engagement and Learning:

On Monday, May 23, 2016, ESE and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate will host a civics literacy conference entitled, "Serving America: Promising Practices for Building Literacy and Civic Learning." The goals of the conference are to understand the role civic learning plays in maintaining our democracy, increase civic knowledge and engagement among K-12 students, and make the natural connections between this discipline and literacy. Presenters will include K-12 educators and representatives from state, education, and community organizations.

This event is free and will run from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All Massachusetts public school educators are welcome to attend, but in consideration of space constraints, those interested should register early.

Charter School Opportunities:

The Department has posted resources related to the 2016-2017 charter application and expansion cycle and will accept charter applications and charter amendments for all school districts except Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, and Malden, which are at the limit established by statute. Estimates of seats available in Boston and all other districts are available online.

The Department is projecting that there will be approximately 225 additional seats available in Boston under the net school spending charter cap. Applicants who would like to start a school in Boston and/or expand an existing school in the city will be required to be identified as proven providers by Commissioner Chester.

All districts impacted by a charter application or a request for charter expansion will receive a copy of the submission in order to provide written comment to ESE regarding the request.

All applicant groups who are new operators must notify ESE of their intent to submit a charter school prospectus application by 5 p.m. on June 15, 2016. Charter prospectuses are due August 1, 2016. Existing Massachusetts charter school boards of trustees must notify ESE of their intent to apply for a new charter by 5 p.m. on August 1, 2016. Expansion requests to increase maximum enrollment, and/or add grade levels are also due by August 1, 2016. Anyone with questions about the availability of seats in Boston or about providing comment during the upcoming cycle can contact Alyssa Hopkins at 781-338-3219 or Individuals with questions about the charter application process, the charter amendment process, or the proven provider requirement can also contact Alyssa.

Feedback Sought on Autism Endorsement:

When the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to approve the regulations for the creation of the Autism Endorsement for special educators, it also asked ESE to investigate the expansion of eligibility for the newly created Autism Endorsement to general educators. The Department has posted an online survey to solicit stakeholder feedback on this potential expansion and on options ESE is considering relating to the expansion. This survey will be open until June 30, 2016.

CASEL Collaborating States Initiative on Social and Emotional Learning:

The Department plans to respond to a request for proposals from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), which is seeking to "to support states as they design, adopt, and implement clearly defined, research-based policies, guidelines, and standards to support statewide implementation of SEL."

In ESE's response proposal, the agency will make a commitment to engage with stakeholders, integrate social and emotional learning principles with existing policies, initiatives, and resources (e.g., curriculum frameworks, standards, and guidance), and build useful, well-aligned resources.

The first stage of ESE's proposal will focus on systematic stakeholder engagement to refine the proposed work. To provide comment regarding the application, please email by Friday, May 20, 2016 with "CASEL-CSI" in the subject line.

Go Higher! Opportunity for High Schools:

The Department of Higher Education invites school districts to submit applications for a limited number of free Go Higher! college readiness programs for the 2016-17 school year. The program brings five to six University of Massachusetts, state university, and community college students into high schools for a student-to-student discussion about making a successful transition from high school to college. Students from the state's public campuses share personal stories about their own high school experiences; how they chose a college and a major; and how they learned to organize their time, get involved in campus activities, and either commute to or live on campus.

Districts may also apply for a public college and university admissions fair or evening program for parents. An application and further information are available on the Department of Higher Education's website. The deadline for submitting a program application is June 10, 2016.

Public Comment Sought on Rescinding Obsolete Regulations:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is inviting public comment on the proposed rescission of three sets of obsolete regulations: 603 CMR 6.00 (Teacher Quality Enhancement), 603 CMR 38.00 (School Construction), and 603 CMR 45.00 (Independent Agricultural and Technical Institutes). These regulations are obsolete due to changes in state law and practice. The deadline for comments is June 10, 2016. Please see the Notice of Public Comment for details.

ESE Resource Corner

Office of Digital Learning blog: The Office of Digital Learning now has its own blog! It currently features pieces about teachers who designed online or blended learning high school courses, educational technology and professional development, student tech support, and examples of mistakes teachers can avoid.

For Your Info:

  • Assessment schedule for 2016-17: The 2016–2017 testing schedule is now available online.
  • Student poem from Teacher of the Year ceremony: Commissioner Chester was very impressed by a student poetry performance that was part of the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year announcement on May 3, 2016 at Codman Academy Charter Public School. Omar Grey, a senior at the school, performed his original poem "Type Amen/Slactivism" as part of the ceremony to honor ninth grade humanities teacher Sydney Chaffee. The poem, which urges real activism over social media activism, was attached to the email version of this update. For a copy, please email
  • Investing in Innovation Development grants: The U.S. Department of Education's Investing in Innovation (i3) program announced its Development competition, which will award up to $3 million each to between 9 and 11 applicants. The grant focuses on generating new approaches to implementing rigorous standards and assessments, improving school climates and developing alternatives to exclusionary school discipline, improving student outcomes and closing opportunity gaps for underserved students through fostering racially and socioeconomically diverse schools, and addressing the unique challenges of rural areas. Applications are due by May 24, 2016.

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 13, 2016
E-mail this page| Print View| Print Pdf  
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Search·Public Records Requests · A-Z Site Index · Policies · Site Info · Contact DESE