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Commissioner's Weekly Update - May 3, 2013

National Teacher Day - Tuesday, May 7, 2013:

Please join us next week in recognizing the extraordinary accomplishments and dedication of the Commonwealth's more than 70,000 public school teachers. Massachusetts teachers are not only performing at a high level, but are continuously improving. As part of National Teacher Day on Tuesday, Commissioner Chester will name the 2014 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year during a ceremony at that educator's school.

School Nutrition Updates:

  • DPH to Delay Changes to State Standards for Competitive Food and Beverages: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently reviewing public comment on new federal nutrition standards for competitive foods and beverages pursuant to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) intends to review current standards for competitive food and beverages upon the release of these federal guidelines, including regarding topics such as caffeinated beverages and frozen desserts. In anticipation of possible changes to federal policy, DPH is delaying implementation of requirements at 105 CMR 225.200(A)(4), which would require schools to provide or sell only flavored milk or milk substitutes that contain the same amount or less sugar than plain fat-free or low-fat milk. If you have questions or would like to request additional information, please contact Laura York at DPH at
  • Access to School Meals in Publicly Funded Out-of-District Programs: School districts and approved private special education schools must collaborate to make breakfast and lunch available to publicly-funded students with disabilities if they would have had access to such meals in their sending district. If a student is eligible for free or reduced price meal benefits, that benefit must also be available to the student while the student attends the approved private special education school. For more information on this matter, please see the Commissioner's memo at
  • USDA Summer Meal Programs: The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which ESE administers, is a federally-funded nutrition program that serves free meals to children and youth age 18 and younger when school is not in session. Summer meal sites are located in eligible areas throughout the state, and meals are often provided in conjunction with enrichment and recreational activities. To learn more about this federal program, go to

Early Warning Indicator System - Implementation Support Pilot:

ESE is looking to select approximately six school districts to receive regular onsite technical assistance, facilitation, and training to support their use of the Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS) data during the 2013-14 school year. If your district is interested in this pilot, please submit an application by the Friday, May 31, 2013 deadline. Participating schools and districts will receive onsite, monthly coaching from a trained EWIS implementation coach, training and networking opportunities with other participating districts, a suite of EWIS implementation tools, and a small financial incentive to support the participation of a range of school and district staff.

PARCC Test Specifications:

This week, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) released a set of test specification documents to help educators and the public better understand the design of the new PARCC English language arts/literacy and mathematics assessments. The documents include blueprints and evidence statement tables. The blueprints describe the content and structure of an assessment by defining the total number of tasks and/or items for any given test component, the standards measured, the item types, and the point values for each. Evidence statement tables describe the knowledge and skills that a test item or a task is measuring. To view the newly released test specifications, go to

For Your Info:

  • The Massachusetts Service Alliance is seeking nominations for its Massachusetts Service and Volunteerism Awards, including an award for Outstanding Service-Learning Practitioner (K-12). To learn more about the awards and see the nomination form, go to
  • Virtual School Hearing: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will hold a public hearing on Greenfield Public School's Commonwealth of Massachusetts Virtual School (CMVS) application on Monday, May 6, 2013 from 4-6 p.m. in Malden. If you are unable to attend the hearing but wish to submit written comments, you may do so by emailing your comments to by May 20, 2013.
  • The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet this month on May 20-21. On Monday, May 20, the Board will hear an update on the RETELL initiative and related English language learner issues during its special meeting from 5-7 p.m. at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Malden. On Tuesday, May 21, the Board will hold its regular meeting from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Horace Mann Middle School in Franklin.


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Last Updated: May 3, 2013
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