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Commissioner's Weekly Update - May 6, 2016

Teacher Appreciation:

On Tuesday, May 3, 2016, Commissioner Chester announced that Sydney Chaffee, a ninth grade humanities teacher at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, is the 2017 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. The other finalists for the award were Kathryn Contini, a sixth-grade teacher at Blanchard Memorial School in Boxborough, part of the Acton Boxborough Regional School District; and Mary-Margaret Mara, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Chandler Magnet School in Worcester.

May 3 was National Teacher Day, and in recognition of that, Commissioner Chester, a talented student, and ESE staff produced this video to thank the Commonwealth's teachers for all they do.

U.S. Presidential Scholars:

The U.S. Department of Education has announced the U.S. Presidential Scholars, which recognizes distinguished high school seniors, and has separate categories for achievement in the arts and in career and technical education. This year, four Presidential Scholars are from Massachusetts: Samantha N. Dorwin of North Adams, who attends Charles H. McCann Technical School in North Adams and was recognized in the area of career and technical education; Dianne Lee of Needham High School; William L. Wang of Boston Latin School; and Zlatomir Y. Fung of Westboro, a student at Oak Meadow School in Vermont who was recognized in the arts. Congratulations to all!

Next-Generation MCAS Update:

Release of 2016–2017 Testing Schedule: The 2016–2017 testing schedule will be posted next week. This schedule includes testing dates for MCAS and ACCESS for ELLs, as well as the submission deadline for the MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt). The dates for test administration deadlines (e.g., ordering and shipping materials) will be provided at a later time.

RFRs Received: Assessment vendors had until today at noon to respond to ESE's requests for responses for the next-generation MCAS. The Department received two submissions: from American Institutes for Research (AIR) of Washington, D.C. and Measured Progress of Dover, N.H. American Institutes for Research said its subcontractors would include Minnesota-based Data Recognition Corporation. Measured Progress is the current vendor for MCAS and MCAS-Alt, and in its submission, it said its subcontractors would include Pearson Education North America, which is based in New York. A panel with representatives from ESE, K-12 education, and higher education will review the responses in the coming weeks. The Department hopes to award a contract this summer.

Learning Standards survey: The Department would like to thank the hundreds of people who have completed the survey about Massachusetts' English language arts and math curriculum frameworks. The survey remains open online, and ESE encourages educators, parents, and others to respond. Please consider sharing the survey link through social media and any other communications tools your district uses.

2016 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 $15 per exam in 2016. 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.

Community Eligibility Provision Information:

The 2016-2017 Community Eligibility Provision-eligible and near-eligible notification spreadsheet is available online, and ESE is also emailing the 114 eligible and near-eligible districts to alert them to their status with respect to this provision, which allows eligible schools to offer no-cost meals to all students. Please note: The spreadsheet is provided for informational purposes only and may not reflect the actual, verified numbers at the district level. In cases in which actual data was not available, ESE used proxy data. If a district or school applies to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision, data may be updated during the approval process.

A webinar for districts eligible or near-eligible for CEP is scheduled for Monday, May 9, 2016.

To be eligible for the Community Eligibility Provision, 40 percent of students in a school or district must be directly certified for free meals because they receive other assistance, are homeless, are enrolled in Head Start, are foster children or are migrants or runaways. Near-eligible schools and districts are those in which between 30 and 40 percent of the student population qualifies.

Online Training for Mandated Reporters:

The Attorney General's Office and the Middlesex District Attorney's Office have worked with the Middlesex Children's Advocacy Center to create an online training program for mandated reporters. The free training is designed to help mandated reporters understand their legal obligations; recognize possible signs and symptoms of maltreatment; know how to respond to a child who discloses abuse; know how to file a 51A report; and understand what happens after a 51A report is filed.

The Massachusetts Legislature has designated teachers, social workers, doctors, nurses, child care providers, police officers, foster parents, and others as mandated reporters. The training has been updated to include information about the Department of Children and Families' new protective intake and supervisor policies, parental discipline, educational neglect, and medical neglect. It also includes additional case studies and pop quiz questions.

2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Curriculum Framework Update:

The final 2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Curriculum Framework that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved in January 2016 is now available online. The Department has several resources and supports available to support districts' transition to the 2016 standards:

Save the Date: Conference on Civic Engagement and Learning:

On Monday, May 23, 2016, ESE and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate will host a civics literacy conference entitled, "Serving America: Promising Practices for Building Literacy and Civic Learning." The goals of the conference are to understand the role civic learning plays in maintaining our democracy, increase civic knowledge and engagement among K-12 students, and make the natural connections between this discipline and literacy. Presenters will include K-12 educators and representatives from state, education, and community organizations.

This event is free and will run from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. All Massachusetts public school educators are welcome to attend, but in consideration of space constraints, interested people should register early.

ESE Resource Corner

Educator Effectiveness e-Newsletter: The most recent edition includes an implementation spotlight piece on the Wakefield Public Schools, information about induction and mentoring, reminders about the Spring Convening, details on applying to be part of one of ESE's advisory cabinets, and an update on the licensure working group. Back issues and information on how to subscribe are available online.

For Your Info:

  • Fuel Up to Play 60 Nutrition Equipment Grant: School food authorities in need of funding for equipment that costs up to $5,000 per school are encouraged to apply for funding through Fuel Up to Play 60 School Nutrition Equipment Grant. Following a competitive application process, the grants will support the purchase of new equipment such as utility carts, utensils, large-capacity food processors and blenders, industrial scales, steamers, and freezers.

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 6, 2016
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