Commissioner's Weekly Update - May 20, 2016
Spring Convening Wrap-Up:
Thank you to all who made the Center for Educator Effectiveness's fourth annual Spring Convening a success! The convening, which was in Marlborough on May 16 and 17, 2016, focused on the theme of Expanding Opportunities for Every Child, Every Educator and Every School. Representatives from approximately 150 districts and collaboratives and 33 educator preparation programs attended.
In particular, ESE would like to thank all of the presenters, particularly Liz Garden, principal of Florence Roche School in Groton, who was the keynote speaker Monday, and Techla Connolly, a middle school English language arts/history teacher in Revere, who was the keynote speaker Tuesday. Their remarks and other materials from the convening are available through a Google Drive folder and will eventually be posted on the ESE website.
The Department is also grateful to the Franklin High School Jazz Band, which played during registration Monday; Franklin High School, which provided student artwork to display throughout the convening; and the Worcester Public Schools, which contributed art for Tuesday morning.
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to Meet:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will hold a special meeting Monday, May 23, 2016 in Malden about educator evaluation. The Board's regular meeting will be Tuesday, May 24, at the Pioneer Charter School of Science in Everett, the school of student Board member Donald Willyard, who is wrapping up his second and final term on the Board and graduating from Pioneer. Agenda items for Tuesday include an overview of the Springfield Empowerment Zone and an update on the next-generation MCAS.
In addition, the Board's Assessment Committee will meet from 3:30-4:45 p.m. Monday, May 23, in Malden.
Safeguarding Student Data:
Safeguarding student data is an essential part of using data effectively to support student learning. The Department strongly encourages districts to audit district policies, procedures, and systems with regard to the use of student data, either as a standalone audit or as an additional component of the annual financial audit most communities undergo. Below is a selection of resources to help districts formulate sound policies for protecting the privacy of student data.
- The U.S. Department of Education's Privacy Technical Assistance Center has information on data privacy, confidentiality, and security practices related to student-level longitudinal data systems. Resources include a data sharing agreement, data privacy and security governance checklists, security best practices, and a model notification of rights.
- The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) gives parents control over what information websites can collect from their children. The Federal Trade Commission has a Frequently Asked Questions page about compliance, and Harvard Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic offers an Overview of COPPA and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which offers a sense of some of the laws that may apply as schools begin to use cloud computing tools. In addition, U.S. Department of Education's FERPA resource website includes FAQs, model notifications for district officials, and a model notice for directory information.
- The Consortium for School Networking has a Protecting Privacy in Connected Learning Toolkit with an in-depth, step-by-step guide to navigating FERPA, COPPA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Protecting Pupil Rights Amendment, and related privacy issues. The website is free but requires registration.
- The Massachusetts Comptroller has a guide on Internal Controls for Information Systems and Technology, and the Information Systems and Technology section of comptroller's Internal Control Guide may be a useful starting point for designing security audits at the local level.
- The Internet Keep Safe Coalition's iKeepSafe Generation Safe offers online videos, incident management resources, and a comprehensive self-assessment.
- The Consortium for School Networking and Data Quality Campaign have created 10 Principles to Guide the Use and Protection of Student Data.
- The Consortium for School Networking has a four-page English and Spanish handout to help school leaders discuss student privacy.
- Districts can check whether a company has signed the Student Privacy Pledge created by the Future of Privacy Forum and the Software & Information Industry Association.
- EverFi offers Massachusetts middle and high schools a free, online Ignition Digital Literacy & Responsibility course for students that includes online privacy and security issues. To request access to the program, contact EverFi Program Manager Maddy Murphy.
Applications for Teacher and Principal Advisory Cabinets due May 31:
Members of ESE's Teacher and Principal Advisory Cabinets provide crucial feedback and input on ESE policies and resources while learning about state education policies, building relationships with educators from across the state, and positioning themselves as go-to resources and leaders in their districts. More information and the applications are available online. Please share this opportunity with teachers and school administrators.
Access to affordable health care available through the Health Connector:
The Massachusetts Health Connector is seeking opportunities to work with schools to reach children, parents, and caregivers who may be in need of health or dental coverage. The Health Connector is the state's health insurance marketplace and provides individuals and families with access to high-quality, affordable health and dental insurance if they do not have access to coverage through an employer. While open enrollment does not start until Nov. 1, there are opportunities for people to sign up now, particularly if they qualify for financial assistance. More information is available here.
While Massachusetts is one of the national leaders in health care access, there are still thousands of people across the state who do not have health insurance. Many of them could get help paying for coverage and get the type of care they and their children need.
Partnerships with schools could be in the form of distributing flyers for children to take home, inviting Health Connector staff to speak or being available at events, or other ideas superintendents may have to inform families about their coverage options. Interested superintendents can e-mail Maria Joy at email@example.com.
Help Testing for Lead in School Drinking Water:
Governor Charlie Baker and State Treasurer Deb Goldberg recently announced that the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust will provide $2 million to help public schools and publicly owned or operated early education programs test for lead and copper in drinking water. More information about the Assistance Program for Lead in School Drinking Water is available online and was sent to districts this month. Please note that interested districts must respond to the Department of Environmental Protection's request for interest by 5 p.m. May 27, 2016.
For Your Info:
- Twitter chat on distributed leadership: From 8-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, 2016, ESE and the educators who moderate #edchatma will co-host a Twitter chat about distributed leadership and the importance of building a school culture that supports giving and receiving feedback. Look for the chat under the hashtags #edchatma and #culturework. The Department and eight districts have been working together through a Distributed Leadership Professional Learning Network.
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