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Commissioner's Weekly Update - June 13, 2014

Recognizing Educator Excellence:

On Thursday, Deputy Commissioner Alan Ingram joined Undersecretary of Education James DiTullio and State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Education, during a State House ceremony recognizing this year's recipients of the Commonwealth's top honors for educators. Among the honorees were Dr. Jeffrey Shea, a Belmont High School social studies teacher selected as the 2015 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, and Kevin Delaney, a Wayland High School history teacher named the 2014 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year. Each of the educators recognized represent the exceptional quality of teaching that exists in classrooms throughout every school district in the Commonwealth. For more information, go to

Board Recap:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education met on June 9 in Malden to review appeals of the final Level 5 School Turnaround Plans for three schools: Holland Elementary School in Boston; Dever Elementary School in Boston; and Morgan Full Service Community School in Holyoke. The Board rejected the Boston Teachers Union's (BTU) proposed modifications on the compensation system and grievance procedure for the Holland and the Dever and on the dual language program at the Dever. The Board voted to accept the Holyoke School Committee's proposed modification to create an Advisory Committee on Students with Exceptional Learning Needs at the Morgan, and elements of the Holyoke Teachers Association's (HTA) proposed modifications related to special needs students, pre-kindergarten, and wraparound services. The Board rejected the remainder of the HTA's proposed modifications, including modifications relating to the financial plan, instructional positions, class size, compensation, and grievance procedure for the Morgan. The Department is now revising the final turnaround plans for the three schools based on the Board's decisions.

PARCC / MCAS Choice in 2015:

As part of the state's two-year "test drive" of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), school districts and charter schools will have the choice whether to administer PARCC or MCAS to students in spring 2015. The exception is at grade 10, where all students will continue to take the MCAS tests. We recognize that not all districts will reach a decision by June 30, the first of two deadlines to communicate a choice to the Department. However, a district's decision needs to be final when it is conveyed to the Department. In other words, a district may not indicate a choice of test to the Department by June 30 and then change its mind at a later point prior to the second deadline of October 1.

In light of any confusion that may have arisen around the binding nature of the decision, we will afford any district that has already submitted its choice to change that selection, if it wishes to do so, up to but not beyond June 30, 2014. Accurate and complete counts of districts choosing MCAS or PARCC are essential to the Department's planning and budgetary decisions for next year's assessment program. For more information, please consult the FAQs located at

Update on ACCESS for ELLs:

For the first time in 2015-16, Massachusetts will administer computer-based English language proficiency tests in speaking, listening, reading and writing for English language learner (ELL) students. Called the ACCESS for ELLs, the tests align to the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) English Language Development Standards. Massachusetts is one of 35 states that are members of the WIDA consortium. In preparation for the new online testing, Massachusetts will administer a voluntary online Listening field test to school districts in March 2015. For more information on the computer-based ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 tests and the voluntary Listening field test, go to If you have any questions, please contact Paulette Watson in Student Assessment Services at

New Student Board Member:

Congratulations to Donald Willyard, recently elected by his peers as the Chair of the State Student Advisory Council (SSAC) for the 2014-15 school year. Donald, who lives in Revere, will enter his junior year at the Pioneer Charter School of Science in Everett in the fall. The SSAC Chair serves as the student representative to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and has full voting rights.

Commissioner's School Visits:

On Tuesday, the Commissioner visited Marlborough High School to attend the 3rd annual STEM Expo.

For Your Info:

  • Board to Meet: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet on June 23-24 in Malden.

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Last Updated: June 16, 2014
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