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Commissioner's Weekly Update - July 21, 2017

Massachusetts High Quality College and Career Pathways Initiative:

The Commonwealth has launched a High Quality College and Career Pathways initiative that will serve as an overarching strategy for significantly expanding student access to high-quality career pathways. The initiative is focused on pathways for underserved populations into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

There are two new types of pathways for this effort: Early College and Innovation pathways. Both are anchored in the five guiding principles defined in the Massachusetts Early College Designation – Preliminary Outline of Key Elements: equitable access, guided academic pathways, enhanced student support, connection to career, and effective partnerships.

To learn more about Innovation Pathways, review the draft of the Innovation Pathway Criteria document. Questions and comments about the draft criteria can be sent to Shailah Stewart. To learn more about Early College programs, review the Early College Criteria that the Early College Joint Committee, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Higher Education finalized in June 2017.

There will be webinars on the Innovation Pathways designation criteria and process from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. on two Thursdays: August 3 and August 10. Webinars on the Early College Pathways designation criteria and process will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday, August 2 and 1-2:30 p.m. Monday, August 14. Interested parties are encouraged to participate and will have the opportunity to ask questions. Registration is available via the links above.

Title IV, Part A: Student Support and Academic Enrichment Allocation Grant Posted:

The Department has posted the new Title IV, Part A (Title IVA): Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant authorized under ESSA. The grant release and process has been coordinated with the applications for Title IA, Title IIA, and Title III. Please see this introductory memorandum about Title IVA for allocation amounts and more information.

FY18 Chapter 70 Information Posted:

Final FY18 Chapter 70 aid and minimum local contribution figures have been posted to the ESE website, along with updated explanatory materials. The FY18 state budget increases aid by $118 million or 2.5 percent. Every operating district is receiving at least $30 in additional aid per student, and 97 operating districts are receiving increases to help keep pace with increases in their foundation budgets. Fifteen districts are receiving transitional relief to assist them with changes made in low-income enrollment. Anyone with questions can contact Melissa King.

Alternate Assessment Waiver:

The Department intends to apply for a waiver from a requirement in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act that limits the number of students in the state who can take alternate assessments to 1 percent of all test-takers. The waiver, if granted, would allow the state to gradually reduce the number of students participating in the MCAS-Alt while providing oversight and training to help teams make informed assessment decisions for students with disabilities. The Department will be gathering comments from the field about the waiver application. More information is available in the memo notice posted online. Comments can be emailed to until August 18, 2017.

For Your Info:

  • Middle school science teachers wanted for study: The Center for Children and Technology at Education Development Center is looking for seventh and eighth grade science teachers to participate in a National Science Foundation-funded study called Playing with Data. The study looks at how teachers use data from games students play to make decisions about instruction. Participating teachers will agree to use a supplemental mini-unit, online game, and a teacher data dashboard to develop and track students' progress in argumentation skills. The mini-unit would be part of teachers' regular units on energy sources and includes lesson plans, classroom activities, and a final capstone project for classroom debate. Teachers will receive a $500 stipend at the end of the study. More information is available at the link above or by emailing Heather Kim.

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 21, 2017
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