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Commissioner's Weekly Update - May 29, 2015

Charter School Opportunities:

For the 2015-2016 charter application and expansion cycle, ESE will accept charter applications and charter amendments for all school districts except Lawrence, Malden, and Somerville, which are at the limit established by statute. Estimates of seats available in Boston and all other districts are listed at

The Department is projecting that there will be approximately 668 additional seats available in Boston under the net school spending charter cap, assuming the city remains among the lowest 10 percent of districts statewide as determined by student test scores. 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.

The deadline to submit a prospectus for a new charter school application is July 28. Expansion requests are due by Aug. 1. Anyone with questions about the availability of seats in Boston or about providing comment during the upcoming cycle can contact Alyssa Hopkins (781-338-3219 or or Cliff Chuang (781-338-3222 or People with questions about the charter application process, the charter amendment process, or the proven provider requirement can contact Alyssa.

Curriculum Training Opportunity:

The registration cap for the upcoming Building Aligned Curriculum Training has been lifted to allow more than two people per district to apply. The training is an opportunity for districts to better align existing curriculum to the state curriculum frameworks by implementing new curriculum units. The training, on June 17 and 18 in Westford, will prepare teacher leaders to work with teams of teachers to adapt and implement model curriculum units (MCUs). Teacher leaders will leave the training with the knowledge to successfully customize, pilot, and revise a new curriculum unit. This training, similar to the assistance provided in the Building Aligned Curriculum Grant (Fund Code 133), is open to all districts, with priority given to districts designated Level 1 or 2.

Registration is online. For more information, please contact Sarah Churchill Silberman, 781-338-3586 or Karen White, 781-338-3588.

2015 AP Exam Fee Subsidy Program:

The U.S. Department of Education recently provided ESE with information about congressional appropriations to support the Massachusetts Advanced Placement (AP) Exam Fee Subsidy Program for low-income students. Pending the availability of increased federal funding, students from low-income families will pay $12 per exam in 2015, which is $3 less than in previous years. As in years past, ESE's goal is to provide a subsidy to as many low-income students as possible. More information on the state's AP Exam Fee Subsidy Program is available online.

Changes to Review of Professional Development Providers:

After a year of conducting comprehensive reviews of more than 100 applications for ESE's online registry of professional development providers, ESE is abbreviating the review process in order to continue this task while still meeting other commitments. The Department appreciates the effort that many providers made to complete the new applications and hopes that the process strengthened providers' plans. More information on the online registry and ensuing changes is available online.

For Your Info:

  • Fishman Prize winners: Each year, TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project) awards the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice to several outstanding educators across the nation. This year's four national winners were announced Thursday, and two were from Massachusetts: Erin Dukeshire, a sixth grade science teacher at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Boston, and Zeke Phillips, a fifth grade English language arts teacher at Excel Academy Charter School in Chelsea. Both will receive $25,000 from TNTP and take part in a six-week summer residency. Several other Massachusetts teachers were finalists, semifinalists or on the honor roll for the prize. Congratulations to all!
  • Students honored for volunteerism: Two Massachusetts students were recently presented Prudential Spirit of Community Awards in recognition of their volunteer work. Brian Salit, 18, a student at Seekonk High School, was recognized for helping student leaders implement distracted-driver prevention programs, while Megan O'Donovan, 13, a student at Mendon-Upton School District's Miscoe Hill School, promoted letterboxing as a way to encourage people to exercise while following clues or a map to find small containers hidden along trails. Both received $1,000 as part of the award, which is sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Subscriber Information: 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) 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 30, 2015
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