Commissioner's Weekly Update - June 24, 2016
Next-Generation MCAS Update:
Phase-in Plan for Computer-Based MCAS Testing: In November, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education set a goal of implementing computer-based testing for virtually all students by spring 2019. Computer-based testing will allow ESE to offer more engaging content and a wider range of accessibility features and will also reflect the reality that students are increasingly using technology in and out of the classroom.
After consulting with ESE's test administration workgroup and other stakeholders, the agency has decided to gradually transition to computer-based testing in a manner that the agency hopes will make the change more manageable for district staff.
The Department recently notified superintendents that the first step will be for all students in grades 4 and 8 to take the computer-based version of the English language arts and math tests in spring 2017. The Department's Office of Digital Learning will help schools that expect to have a hard time meeting this requirement. In exceptional circumstances, ESE will waive the spring 2017 requirement if the school has made a good-faith effort to comply and has a plan for offering computer-based assessments in spring 2018. For more information, please visit our website.
Workgroup Recommendations: Several next-generation MCAS workgroups have published preliminary recommendations, including the workgroups on accessibility, high school testing, and test administration. The recommendations will be reviewed by the Commissioner and/or the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Approved documents will be posted in Final Recommendations section.
Test Content Review Panels: The Department received 239 applications from classroom teachers and curriculum specialists expressing their willingness to serve on panels that will help review test questions for grade appropriateness, alignment to the curriculum frameworks, and potential bias. Selected members will be notified by the end of June. Panels will be created for each grade and subject area and are expected to begin work in late 2016, after the selection of a testing vendor.
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to Meet:
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will hold two meetings next week. The first, a special meeting the evening of June 27, 2016, will include a continuing discussion of educator evaluation and, separately, digital learning. The second will be the Board's regular meeting on June 28, 2016. That meeting's agenda includes a vote on the 2016 Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards; an update on development of the next-generation MCAS and the review of English language arts, mathematics, and history/social science standards; and reports from the receivers of the state's three Level 5 districts (Lawrence, Holyoke, and Southbridge).
For Your Info:
- Student filmmakers release new video to introduce their "best selves" to the community: As a tribute to the hard work and commitment of its four graduating seniors, the Poetry in Motion Group, a student-based collaboration at the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children (formerly the Massachusetts Hospital School) has completed its latest video project entitled "Feed the People." This moving and inspirational video, the latest in a series of three such projects produced by the group, is designed to "evoke awareness and celebrate the gifts of life and giving." Three years ago these students began work on "artistic and meaningful" video projects as a way to "present our best selves to the world with deep and conscious artistry." This year, fifteen students, with the assistance of their teaching staff, worked together to create the video. "Feed the People," as well as a short introduction to the Poetry in Motion Group and its other works, can be found at: https://youtu.be/csQNQ9molZI.
- Southbridge Turnaround Plan released: On Friday, June 24, 2016, Southbridge Receiver Jessica Huizenga, Commissioner Chester, and Town Council Chair Estaban Carrasco announced the release of the Southbridge Public Schools Level 5 District Turnaround Plan.
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