Commissioner's Weekly Update - May 19, 2017
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to Meet:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Educations will hold a special meeting Monday, May 22, 2017 in Malden and a regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 23 at Scituate High School, the school of the Board's student member, Nathan Moore. Monday's meeting will run from 5-7 p.m., and the Board will hear progress reports from the receivers of the three Level 5 districts: Lawrence, Holyoke, and Southbridge.
Tuesday's meeting will run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Scituate, and the agenda includes an update on the next-generation MCAS and a review of the upcoming standard setting process for the assessment. The agenda also includes an update from the Early College Joint Committee.
Guidance on Immigration Enforcement Requests:
Attorney General Maura Healey this week issued guidance to school districts on immigration enforcement and requests for information from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Under ICE's current policies, ICE generally does not conduct immigration enforcement activities at "sensitive locations" such as schools, but the guidance offers advice on what to do if such instances arise. It addresses the following five questions:
(1) What should a school do if ICE requests access to the school to interview or take custody of a student?
(2) What should schools do if ICE requests information regarding a student or his/her family?
(3) What information should schools not collect and maintain?
(4) What proactive steps should schools take to protect students and their information?
(5) What should schools do to protect students in the event that their parents are taken into ICE custody?
This week's guidance follows an advisory the attorney general issued in March 2017 as a reminder that state and federal law require state educational agencies and local school districts to provide all elementary and secondary students with equal access to public education — irrespective of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or immigration status.
Massachusetts public schools strengthen our Commonwealth by welcoming and educating all children. The Department is grateful to districts for their help in maintaining supportive learning environments in which students and their families are treated with respect.
2017-2018 Charter School Initial Waitlist Report:
The Department has just released the initial 2017-18 waitlist report. This initial waitlist report and appendix identifies the number of students who applied for admission to a charter school for the 2017-2018 school year but were waitlisted as of March 15, 2017. Seventy-four out of 80 charter schools had waitlists and collectively identified 58,733 entries representing 31,600 unique students. While the overall number of unique students decreased from last spring's initial waitlist report, that drop may be due to fewer students being carried over from waitlists established before March 31, 2014. In terms of the number of students applying specifically for the 2017-18 school year, there were approximately 900 more unique students compared to the number of unique students who applied specifically for the 2016-17 school year.
For more information regarding the town or city of residence for waitlisted students, please refer to tables 4 and 9 in the appendix (orange-colored worksheet tabs named "Mar17 Town" and "Mar17 Town x Grade", respectively). Please note that the unique waitlist counts provided in this report should be taken as ESE's best understanding and representation of initial demand for all charter schools in operation for the 2017-18 school year rather than exact numbers of students willing to accept offers at each charter school.
For further information regarding this report, please contact Brenton Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-338-3214 or the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign at email@example.com or 781-338-3227.
School Choice Reminder:
Every school committee must vote prior to June 1 on whether their district will accept school choice students in the 2017-2018 school year. School committees that have not held this vote yet should do so as soon as possible. If the district will accept school choice students, the vote may also specify which grades and how many openings are available, although that information is not required and is not binding. Results of the vote should be summarized and sent by email or letter to Rob O'Donnell in ESE's Office of District and School Finance (firstname.lastname@example.org or Rob O'Donnell, Office of District and School Finance, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148). The information is published on the school choice area of the ESE website in order to guide prospective students.
VISTA: Educator Voices Were Heard, and the Results Are In:
The Department would like to thank the superintendents and principals who participated in the VISTA 2017 survey. Superintendents from 57 percent of the state's districts, and principals from 52 percent of the state's schools provided feedback through the survey. Educator feedback of this magnitude assures our program offices that the results are representative and can help us better target resources, grants, and supports to districts and schools. The Department has posted executive summaries and statewide reports for both surveys on the Office of Planning and Research's VISTA webpage.
All educators are invited to ESE's VISTA 2017 Webinar at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 8. The Office of Planning and Research and survey partner Westat will share data from this year's survey. To register, please send an email to MAVISTA@westat.com with the subject line "VISTA 2017 Webinar", and Westat will send login details during the last week of May.
Opportunity for Free Strategic Planning Facilitation Training:
Interested in learning how to facilitate district and school improvement planning? The Department is seeking approximately 12 people to participate in a FREE four-day course in Malden on July 10-13 to become approved facilitators for Planning for Success, ESE's planning model. Successful course completers will have the opportunity to earn 24 professional development points and will be listed with the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents as available for districts to hire as an external facilitator for the district's planning process. Strong candidates will typically have central office, school leadership, or professional development experience and may be current district employees or retirees. If interested, please contact Carrie Conaway at email@example.com for an application form. Applications are due by June 12.
Computer Science-STEM Opportunity:
The Department and Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) seek educator teams from 10 districts to participate in the second year of a National Science Foundation-funded computer science and science, technology/engineering and mathematics (STEM) integration and collaboration (CS-STEM) program. The purpose of the program is to integrate computer science with science and mathematics education in grades 1-6. The program aims to create new models for teaching and learning through innovative curriculum and class materials. For more information and an application, contact Jacqueline Reis. Applications are due June 30.
Summit on Leading Student-Centered Digital Learning Initiatives:
The Leading Schools Summit in Boston August 1-3 is designed to provide principals and assistant principals with the support and professional learning opportunities they need to lead student-centered digital learning initiatives in their schools.
Sponsored by the Massachusetts Personalized Learning Edtech Consortium (MAPLE), the Friday Institute, and OETC's educational technology purchasing consortium, this event provides school leaders with an opportunity to collaborate and network with other principals from Massachusetts and the nation. Throughout the sessions, principals work through individual problems of practice, gather feedback and insight from colleagues, and go on site visits to Google and NuVu Studio in Cambridge. Participants also spend time reflecting on their practice and identifying innovative strategies to use moving forward. View a short video at to hear what participants in the first cohort (including a principal from Massachusetts) had to say about it.
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