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Commissioner's Weekly Update - May 5, 2017

Presidential Scholars Announced:

The U.S. Department of Education recently announced the scholars for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, which recognizes graduating high school seniors. Four Massachusetts students were honored, including three public school students: Alkenly S. Ortiz of Lawrence, a student at Greater Lawrence Regional Vocational Technical High School, was recognized in career and technical education; Amir Siraj of Brookline High School was recognized in the arts; and Catherine L. Wang of Lexington High School was recognized under the award's original program for all students.

In addition, each student nominated a distinguished teacher. Alkenly nominated Christopher Cyr, an English teacher at Greater Lawrence Regional; Amir nominated Ed Wiser, a science teacher at Brookline High; and Catherine nominated Nicholas Gould, a physics teacher at Lexington High. Congratulations to all!

Save the Date: Conference on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments:

The Department, in collaboration with the Department of Early Education and Care, the Collaborative for Educational Services, and Massachusetts Advocates for Children's Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, will host a gathering on May 24 in Leominster on creating safe and supportive learning environments in schools, districts, and community-based programs in order to be equitable and inclusive of all students. The conference will help participants understand the Safe and Supportive Schools Framework as set out in state law and will focus on aligning important aspects of social emotional learning, trauma sensitivity, and positive behavioral approaches. Participants will have the opportunity to learn with and from grade-span colleagues. Registration is open online.

Assistance Program for Lead in School Drinking Water:

The state Department of Environmental Protection has released its final report on the Commonwealth's Assistance Program for Lead in School Drinking Water, and both the report and a press release are posted online pm the program's website. The report announces that with available funds from the program, MassDEP will continue a modified assistance program to provide another round of technical assistance and laboratory analysis to schools that did not participate in the program in 2016. Details will be posted on the programs' website as they become available.

ESE Resource Corner:

ESE Research Update: The Department has posted brief summaries of recent research published on Massachusetts' education policy by ESE and by other entities. The collection includes a Turnaround Practices Field Guide that details common elements of effective turnaround efforts; a report on the Advancing STEM AP program, in which ESE has partnered with Mass Insight Education to increase access, participation, and performance in AP science and math courses; and a report on the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership.

For Your Info:

  • High school strategy briefs: The U.S. Department of Education has released several issue briefs about ways to strengthen high school programs for at-risk students. The briefs cover: (1) transition activities for the transition from middle to high school, (2) academic tutoring, and (3) college-level coursework.

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 5, 2017
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