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Commissioner's Weekly Update - August 12, 2016

Special Education Leadership Institutes:

The Special Education Planning and Policy (SEPP) unit is working with three contractors to offer training for special education district leadership staff. Each leadership institute is free to participants and will have at least 62 contact hours over the course of the school year. Highlights of the institutes include opportunities to network; chances to apply concepts of systemic change to improve student outcomes; and better understand legal requirements and the implementation of evidence-based practices for creating inclusive environments.

The four new Special Education Leadership Institutes are as follows:

  • Experienced Special Education Directors, provided by WestEd. To apply, visit by August 22, 2016.
  • New Special Education Directors (less than five years experience), provided by ACCEPT Collaborative. This session is already full, but for more information or to be put on a waitlist, please contact Susan Rees at
  • Special Education Career/Vocational Technical Education Leaders, provided by WestEd. To apply, visit by September 9.
  • Special Education Team Leader, provided by the Collaborative for Educational Services. Please visit

For general information on the institutes, please contact Lauren Viviani at 781-338-3372.

Reminder on Preliminary 2016 MCAS Results:

Districts and schools now have embargoed access to their full preliminary MCAS and MCAS-Alt results in English language arts, mathematics, and science and technology/engineering via the MCAS 2016 Data Drop Box in Drop Box Central in the Security Portal (districts and schools were given access to preliminary PARCC results earlier this summer.)

In addition, ESE has posted

By Monday, Aug. 15, ESE anticipates having electronic student roster, school and district summaries and PARCC parent/guardian reports available in Pearson Access Next.

Preliminary MCAS and PARCC data and parent/guardian reports are strictly confidential and embargoed until ESE officially releases it in mid-September. The intent of sharing preliminary results is for data verification and to assist district and school leaders with educational planning. The MCAS discrepancy reporting window will close at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16. It is essential that principals and school leaders review their preliminary results before that time or delegate this task to a designee. The Department will not be able to correct discrepancies reported after the deadline in time for the official public release of results in September, and any unreported discrepancies may negatively impact accountability results later this fall.

The Department will update superintendents regarding the public release of MCAS, PARCC, accountability results, and additional teleconferences in the coming weeks. Please see the updated 2016 assessment and accountability data review and release schedule for more details. For help with questions about MCAS results, e-mail or call (781) 338-3625. For help with questions about accountability reporting, e-mail or call (781) 338-3550.

Reminder: Webinars on School Technology Funding and Free Broadband Support:

The Department invites districts to join the Office of Digital Learning, the Massachusetts Office of Information Technology (MassIT) and the national non-profit EducationSuperHighway (ESH) for one of two webinars on August 23 and August 24 to learn how districts can upgrade connectivity in support of next-generation teaching, learning, and assessment.

To register please visit:

The same information will be provided in both webinars. If you have questions, please contact the Office of Digital Learning.

For Your Info:

  • Municipal reform bill: Gov. Baker signed the municipal reform bill on August 9, 2016. With respect to educational matters, the law primarily clarifies existing municipal statutes around fiscal actions, but it also prioritizes grant applications from regional compacts and requires the Operational Services Division to develop a process by which districts can access lower cost textbooks and other educational materials through bulk purchasing.
  • Providing behavioral supports to students with disabilities: The U.S. Department of Education has issued a Dear Colleague letter that emphasizes the requirement that schools provide positive behavioral supports to students with disabilities who need those supports.
  • Back-to-school video: The Department, with help from Medford Public Schools, has created a brief back-to-school video about Massachusetts' educational successes and upcoming work.

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: August 12, 2016
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