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Commissioner's Weekly Update - July 1, 2016

Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards:

On June 28, 2016, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the 2016 Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards, updating digital literacy expectations and giving Massachusetts students their first statewide computer science curriculum framework.

The Department would like to thank the Massachusetts educators and industry representatives who helped develop the standards, which are voluntary. The new standards are intended to prepare all students to engage with technology in the context of civic life, college and work.

Districts could begin using the standards as soon as this September, and ESE will continue to collaborate with the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN) to help districts with implementation. In addition, ESE is partnering with the Education Development Center (EDC) on a $2.1 million, three-year National Science Foundation STEM+C Design and Development grant to develop elementary school curriculum units that integrate computational thinking in mathematics and science lessons.

Special Education Professional Development Institutes:

Special Education Summer Professional Development Institutes are filling up! Courses address topics such as supporting positive behavior in inclusive classrooms, working with students with autism for general and special educators, and understanding and teaching students in poverty. Participants can be educators, related service providers, or administrators, and each course is designed to ensure participants are able to effectively improve practice and student outcomes.

Conference Call Opportunity on Broadband Upgrades for Massachusetts Schools:

The Department invites districts to join the Office of Digital Learning, MassIT and the national non-profit EducationSuperHighway for one of two webinars on July 7 and July 8, 2016 to learn how each entity can help districts upgrade to affordable and scalable connectivity in support of digital learning.

Participants will be introduced to the team at EducationSuperHighway and hear details of the broadband upgrade process, including stories of how school districts across the country increased their bandwidth for little to no additional cost by working with EducationSuperHighway during the 2016 E-rate cycle.

Districts can register for one of the following 30-minute webinars: noon July 7 or 3 p.m. July 8.

Public Comment Period Open on Proposed Regulations for Every Student Succeeds Act:

The U.S. Department of Education has released proposed federal regulations regarding accountability, reporting, and state plan requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and will accept public comments on the draft regulations through August 1, 2016. People can send comments and read an executive summary and extensive background at For more information, visit the Federal Register's website or see the summary of the proposed regulations that the Council of Chief State School Officers posted online.

Common Core Ballot Initiative Rejected:

Earlier today, the Supreme Judicial Court decided that the proposed ballot initiative that sought to end Massachusetts' use of the Common Core State Standards does not meet the requirements for an initiative petition and will not appear on the November 2016 statewide ballot. The court ruled unanimously that the ballot – which also would have required that the state publicly release all assessment questions from the previous year – contains provisions that are not related or mutually dependent.

The Department will continue working with Massachusetts educators and gathering public input about how to update our existing standards.

If the ballot initiative had passed, it would have pulled the rug out from under Massachusetts educators who have been teaching to the existing standards for the past five years. Educators can now continue to develop curriculum and prepare for the upcoming school year knowing that their work will not be derailed this fall. The Department is committed to completing the review of the English language arts and mathematics curriculum frameworks to adjust and modify the standards with input from K-12 educators and our partners in higher education.

2016-2017 Charter School Initial Waitlist Report:

The Department has just released the initial 2016-2017 charter school waitlist report. This initial waitlist report and appendix identifies the number of students who applied for admission to a charter school for the 2016-2017 school year but were waitlisted as of March 15, 2016. Seventy-four out of 78 charter schools had waitlists and collectively identified 44,250 entries representing 32,646 unique students. For more information regarding the town or city of residence for these waitlisted students, please refer to tables 4 and 9 in the appendix (orange-colored worksheet tabs named "Mar16 Town" and "Mar16 Town x Grade", respectively). Please note that the unique waitlist counts provided in this report should be taken as ESE's best understanding and representation of initial demand for all charter schools in operation for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year rather than exact numbers of students willing to accept offers at each charter school.

For further information regarding this new report, please contact Brenton Stewart at or 781-338-3214 or the Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign at or 781-338-3227.

For Your Info:

  • Women Leaders in Education Conference: The Women Leaders in Education Conference will be held July 31 and August 1 in Boston. Use code SPK16 until July 29 to save $50 on registration.
  • Massachusetts student recognized: The U.S. Department of Education recently held an event called "Shattering Stereotypes: Creating Opportunities for Women and Girls in Non-Traditional Career and Technical Education Fields" that showcased career technical education programs that are improving outcomes for non-traditional students. Student speakers included Samantha Dorwin, a Career and Technical Education Presidential Scholar from McCann Technical School in North Adams. The video is available online, and Samantha's remarks start at 20:34.
  • President's Education Awards Program: Since 1983, the President's Education Awards Program has recognized students who through outstanding effort have met challenging standards of excellence. School principals determine the number of qualifying students based on selection criteria and verify orders for awards. There is no limit on the number of awards, as long as students meet the criteria. Students receive a certificate and congratulatory letter signed by the president and the U.S. secretary of education. This year, nearly three million elementary, middle, and high school students were recognized.

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: July 1, 2016
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