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Commissioner's Weekly Update - August 5, 2016

Commissioner's Weekly Update – August 5, 2016

Preliminary 2016 MCAS Results:

During the week of Aug. 7, 2016, ESE expects to provide districts and schools with 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.)

Our goal is to have:

  • detailed instructions for reporting discrepancies available by Tuesday, Aug. 9 through the MCAS Service Center and Security Portal;
  • student-level results available in drop boxes by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10;
  • discrepancy reporting tool available on Wednesday, Aug. 10;
  • aggregated assessment participation results available in drop boxes by 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11;
  • interactive reports in Edwin Analytics available by 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15;
  • electronic student roster, school and district summary, and PARCC parent/guardian reports available in Pearson Access Next by Monday, Aug. 15.

Preliminary MCAS data is 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 hold teleconferences from 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10 and 10-11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 11 to discuss the preliminary MCAS results and the timeline for issuing 2016 accountability determinations. The teleconferences are designed to help principals and school administrators understand how to access the information, to clarify how the preliminary MCAS results can be used before complete and official results are released in the fall, and to report potential discrepancies in preliminary data. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

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.

Webinars - 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.

The Department, through the Office of Digital Learning, and MassIT will be administering the Digital Connections Partnership Schools (DCPS) grant program in the 2016-17 school year (FY17). DCPS is a competitive, matching grant program for school technology infrastructure projects. Approximately $2M in state bond funds will be available. The local match may come from any combination of state, federal, local, or private funds.

Additionally, the State Treasurer's Office and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) recently announced $50 million in loans available over the next five years to help districts cover the cost of technology projects. The Department and MassIt will discuss further details on the webinar.

EducationSuperHighway partnered with the state of Massachusetts to support districts with their broadband upgrades. EducationSuperHighway provides a team of expert consultants to work with each interested school district to: conduct outreach to a broad network of competitive providers; support your RFP process; build a business case for your town's approval; provide tips for negotiating with providers; and act as project managers during the implementation process.

To register please visit:

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

Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS) Release Update:

Schools and districts will have access to a new student level report in the next release of the Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS), the EWIS Postsecondary Readiness model. The new model is being developed by ESE, with funding from the US Department of Education, to provide risk levels for high school students related to meeting postsecondary outcomes. The expanded EWIS will use data on the higher education outcomes of students who previously graduated from high school in the Commonwealth. For more information on EWIS, please visit

The release of all EWIS models and reports is scheduled for August 26. Please remember that to be included in the EWIS calculations, all of your district's statewide collections (SIMS, EPIMS, SCS, and SSDR) must be completed. Districts that do not have these data certified by August 8 may not have EWIS data in the initial release for the beginning of the school year.

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA):

As you may know, Massachusetts is participating in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) for our state and in December OECD will announce how the state performed compared to the rest of world.

Districts and individual schools have the opportunity to participate in the OECD Test for Schools, a global benchmarking tool that will provide you with a powerful assessment of your school's performance and students' problem solving and critical thinking skills; insight into student perceptions of learning; and access to a global network of peers.

OECD details:

  • Voluntary participation;
  • Support to help you sign up and administer the test;
  • Online test administration;
  • Year-round scheduling at the school's convenience;
  • A small sample of students participate (85 15-year old students);
  • Total testing time is 3 ¼ hours, including breaks and time for the student survey; and
  • Within 6-8 weeks of administration, schools receive an in-depth, 150+ page report that includes data compared with international school systems.

The global learning network will link you and your team to a network of school leaders and other educators. For the first 25 Massachusetts schools that sign up, subsidies are available to help cover both the costs of the assessment and global learning network activities. These activities include a regional meeting next summer in Massachusetts where you and your team will get a briefing on your results and then participate in an international conference of the Global Learning Network in October 2017 held in Washington, D.C. The Global Learning Network encompasses 446 schools across 32 states and over 1,000 schools globally. This opportunity is made possible through a partnership involving: the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), America Achieves, and Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA).

For more information on how to participate in this opportunity, you can contact Rebecca Bennett ( on my staff or Brenda Wilson of Northwest Evaluation Association at (503) 260-2574 or

For Your Info:

  • Reminder: Amendments to M.G.L. c. 71, §42 (criteria for teacher layoffs/reductions in force) and § 59B (criteria for transfers and recalls of teachers) take effect on September 1, 2016. For the full text of the amendments, see sections 3 and 4 of Chapter 131 of the Acts of 2012.

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 8, 2016
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