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Commissioner's Weekly Update - June 16, 2017

End of Year Message from Commissioner Chester:

As the end of the school year approaches, I want to thank all of you for the work you've done for the Commonwealth's students over the past 10 months. What I saw in my school visits this year, and what I heard in my conversations with students, educators, and others, reaffirmed for me that Massachusetts has strong, supported schools and a commitment to make them even better.

I am grateful to the many districts and educators who are working with us on a variety of issues, including implementation of revised learning standards, resource allocation, student discipline, graduation rates, career pathways, and social and emotional learning. Our students need our best work in all of these areas, but early literacy and middle grades math will be areas of particular focus for ESE staff and me in the coming year. These are subjects that have not shown strong improvement statewide and which can make significant differences for students' futures.

I would especially like to thank everyone who helped build and administer the next-generation MCAS that debuted this spring in English language arts and math in grades 3-8. As we transition to computer-based testing, I am glad to see schools investing in technology that they can use for everyday teaching and learning, and I am proud to work with other state agencies to support schools in these efforts. The work of building the new assessment is not done, and I am also grateful to the educators who will spend part of their summer setting the scoring standards for the test. That important work will shape the results, which will be released in October.

As dedicated as our public schools are to improving, it can be easy to forget how much has been accomplished. The 25th anniversary of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act is coming in 2018, and we look forward to celebrating both statewide and local achievements from the two-and-a-half decades that have led to Massachusetts leading the nation.

On a personal note, you may have heard that I have temporarily cut back on my schedule this spring to undergo medical treatment. When necessary, Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson has been ably filling in for me with the help of other senior staff, and I look forward to returning to my full schedule as soon as possible. I appreciate all the well-wishes people have sent me, and I look forward to seeing you in the fall.

Notable Teachers Recognized at State House:

On June 15, Secretary Peyser, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, Education Committee Co-Chairs Sonia Chang-Díaz and Alice H. Peisch, Senior Associate Commissioner Heather Peske, and many state legislators recognized 14 notable teachers at the State House. The honorees were 2018 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Cara M. Pekarcik, Massachusetts Teacher of the Year finalists and semifinalists, 2018 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year Kevin Dua, and the finalists for the 2016 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Speakers included 2017 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year and 2017 National Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee and North Quincy High School Student Vivian Tran, one of Ms. Pekarcik's students. Congratulations to all!

Opportunity to Give Input on First Year of Computer-Based Testing:

Individuals who were involved in spring 2017 MCAS computer-based testing are invited to share input with the Department by completing this survey. The Department welcomes educators' feedback and hope that people will take the time to respond by Friday, June 30. The survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS) Release Update:

In the next release of the Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS), districts will have access to new reports based on the EWIS Postsecondary Readiness model. More information about EWIS is available online.

The release of all EWIS models and reports is scheduled for the week of August 25. Please remember that to be included in the EWIS calculations, all of a district's statewide collections (SIMS, EPIMS, SCS, and SSDR) must be completed. Districts that do not report these data by the due dates will not have EWIS data in the initial release in Edwin Analytics for the beginning of the school year.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be offering a full day workshop entitled "Maximizing EWIS to Improve Student Achievement" on September 18, 2017. Please encourage teams to register if possible to get the full impact from the session. For more information, email ewis@doe.mass.edu.

Celebrating Good Work:

Graduation season is usually a time for recognizing students, but it also offers educators a chance to take pride in what they helped students accomplish. Chelsea Superintendent Mary Bourque recently set down a few points about her district's graduating class, and it reflects the challenges and good work happening in urban districts across the state. The piece was attached to the email version of this update; for a copy, please email jreis@doe.mass.edu. Congratulations to students and educators alike!

Title I Equitable Share Data for Private School Services:

Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), ESE is required to notify private school officials of the allocation of funds for educational services and other benefits under Titles I, IIA, III, and IVA that local public school districts have determined are available for eligible private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel, and families. Under ESSA, the amount of a district's Title I allocation available for use for eligible private school students is determined by dividing the district allocation by the low income student count for participating public schools and private schools. The resulting per pupil amount is then multiplied by the number of program-eligible private school low income students to determine the maximum amount potentially available for equitable services.

Earlier this week, ESE sent private school officials and district Title I directors data to help estimate the amount of Title I funding that may be available for eligible private school Title I services in the 2017-18 school year. That data file and other information regarding equitable services for private school students and teachers under ESSA is available on ESE's website. Anyone with questions regarding ESSA equitable services can email ESEAequitableservices@doe.mass.edu.

For Your Info:

  • Reminder: Principal and Teacher Advisory Cabinets open for applications: The Department is pleased to convene Teacher and Principal Advisory Cabinets each year in the Eastern Mass. and Central/Western Mass. areas as a way to recognize excellent educators, elevate teacher and principal voices at the state level, and provide opportunities for leadership. The Principal Advisory Cabinets are open to all school-level administrators, and the Teacher Advisory Cabinets are open to all educators who work with students across grade levels and content areas. Applications are due June 21, and more information is available on the principal and teacher cabinet applications.
  • Educator preparation report: On June 14, the Council of Chief State School Officers released "Transforming Educator Preparation: Lessons Learned from Leading States," a playbook suggesting ways states can improve educator preparation. This playbook shares lessons learned and successes from Massachusetts and other members of the Network for Transforming Educator Preparation.
  • Video recap of administration's school tour: The Baker-Polito Administration recently posted a video recapping their recent visits to schools and education announcements.

Subscriber Information: Superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, and charter school leaders will receive the update automatically. For others wishing to subscribe, send an email to imailsrv@list1.doe.mass.edu 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: June 16, 2017
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