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Commissioner's Weekly Update - August 2, 2013

2013-14 Charter School Prospectuses:

ESE has received charter school prospectuses from ten founding groups seeking approval to open new charter schools in Andover, Cape Cod, Central Mass., Fall River, Fitchburg, Greater Boston, Lynn, and Springfield. After reviewing the proposals, in mid-September, ESE will notify the founding groups whose prospectuses show the most promise and invite them to submit full applications. Final applications are due on October 25, 2013. After a comprehensive review by ESE staff and external reviewers, Commissioner Chester will decide which finalists to recommend to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Board will vote on the Commissioner's recommendations to award new charters in February 2014. For more info on the 2013-14 prospectuses, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/news/news.aspx?id=7616.

Update on Green Ribbon Schools:

The U.S. Department of Education's (USED) Green Ribbon Schools "Education Built to Last" Facilities Tour came to New England this week. Commissioner Chester joined Donald Yu, special advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Andrea Falken, director of Green Ribbon Schools at USED, and local school and municipal officials during a tour of Manchester-Essex Regional Middle-High School in Manchester. Mr. Yu and Ms. Falken later toured Quincy High School with Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman, Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, and local school and community officials. Manchester-Essex Regional Middle-High School and Quincy High were two of three schools in Massachusetts, as well as one district, named as 2013 Green Ribbon Schools. The purpose of USED's tour is to highlight best practices in school building and grounds design, construction, operations, and management to support health, educational outcomes, equity, energy efficiency, and cost savings.

Massachusetts will participate in the 2014 Green Ribbon Schools program. ESE will provide additional info on the application process and timelines in the coming weeks. Interested schools must submit letters of intent by late October and final applications by Dec. 6, 2013. We will share additional resources at http://www.doe.mass.edu/finance/sbuilding/GreenRibbon/.

PARCC Update:

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) has released two policy documents approved by the PARCC Governing Board in June. PARCC is releasing both of these final documents after collecting extensive feedback during a public comment period.

The first document is the PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual. The manual will help educators to select, administer, and evaluate accommodations for assessing students with disabilities and English language learners on PARCC. The manual includes a description of supports and accessibility features that all students are entitled to receive as part of PARCC's computer-based testing. To view the manual and other supporting materials, go to http://www.parcconline.org/parcc-accessibility-features-and-accommodations-manual.

The second document includes PARCC's performance level descriptors (PLDs), which are the broad, categorical levels used to report student performance on the test. PLDs are synonymous to achievement levels and articulate the knowledge, skills, and practices that students performing at a given level can demonstrate in each content area at each grade level. To view the PARCC PLDs, go to http://www.parcconline.org/plds.

E-Rate Update:

E-Rate is the common term for the Schools and Libraries program of the Universal Services Fund, which collects monies from telecommunications companies for attaining the goal of universal service. Over the past 15 years, E-Rate has provided schools and libraries with extensive financial support to upgrade their communications systems. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) initiated a thorough review and modernization of E-Rate built around three goals: (1) increased broadband capacity; (2) cost-effective purchasing; and (3) streamlined program administration. The FCC has recognized that needs are changing, and we know that many older school buildings need upgraded computer networks to accommodate the next generation of digital learning and assessment tools, including ESE's new Edwin Teaching & Learning system and the planned PARCC assessments. We hope this initiative will result in additional funds to at least some of our districts within the next year or two, and will keep you posted of any additional information.

For Your Info:

  • 2013 Race to the Top-District Competition: The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has posted the final application for the 2013 Race to the Top-District competition. The $120 million program will support bold, locally directed improvements in teaching and learning that will directly improve student performance and educator effectiveness. Individual local education agencies (LEAs) and consortia of LEAs that meet the eligibility requirements may apply. USED asks interested districts to submit their intent to apply by August 23, 2013. The application is due October 3, 2013, and USED will announce awards no later than December 31, 2013. For more info about the program, go to http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-district/index.html.

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Last Updated: August 6, 2013
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