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Commissioner's Weekly Update - September 23, 2016

Assessment and Accountability Data:

The Department will publicly release 2016 assessment and accountability data for schools and districts at 5 p.m. Monday, September 26. Districts already have embargoed access to their accountability data in the Security Portal, and official MCAS and PARCC data were also made available in Edwin Analytics and in dropboxes earlier this week. For help with questions about assessment results, e-mail or call (781) 338-3625. For help with questions about accountability reporting, e-mail or call (781) 338-3550.

Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to Meet:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Monday, September 26, 2016 to discuss assessment and accountability determinations. The Board will hold its regular meeting Tuesday, September 27. The agenda includes a recap of the previous night's discussion; an update on the state's accountability system in light of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act; an update on the review of three sets of frameworks: English language arts/literacy, mathematics, and history and social science; an update on the next-generation MCAS; and an update on the educator evaluation program.

Massachusetts FOCUS Academy Courses Open:

The application process for fall 2016 Massachusetts FOCUS Academy courses is now open to ALL districts. The courses are designed to help teams of educators build skills, knowledge, and instructional strategies to support inclusive environments. The Department is opening up available spaces in nine ESE-sponsored, graduate-level courses that start the week of November 7, 2016 and end the week of February 27, 2017. Information about the courses and the application process are available online. Completed applications will be accepted through Friday, September 30. The Department will accept teams of educators using the established priority criteria posted on each course application.

Next-Generation MCAS Update:

Standard Setting Policy Committee: The Department has convened a Standard Setting Policy Committee composed of K-12 and higher education educators and administrators in addition to policymakers and other stakeholders — to make recommendations to the commissioner and the Board regarding the achievement levels for the next-generation MCAS. The 14-member committee is considering issues such as what the achievement levels should be called, what they will signify, and how many there should be. The committee met for the first time on September 8, and the second meeting is scheduled for September 27. The Department will bring the recommendations to the Board and the field for further discussion.

Technology: Nearly 800 district- and building-level staff participated in an ESE-sponsored conference call earlier this month that provided guidance for computer-based testing. In addition, the technology specifications for the next-generation MCAS have been released. Districts have until October 14, 2016, to decide whether students in grades 3 and 5–7 will take the new English language arts and mathematics assessments on computer or with paper and pencil.

Licensure Survey:

The Department is in the process of developing a series of regulatory proposals aimed at streamlining and simplifying the licensure and license renewal process for educators licensed via 603 CMR 7.00Governor Baker's Executive Order 562 to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden. The majority of the ideas presented in the survey were topics discussed and recommended by the Working Group for Streamlining Educator Licensure Regulations & Policies, which includes representatives from K-12 and higher education, unions, and private special education schools.

Until Wednesday, October 12, 2016 we are encouraging educators, those involved with preparing our workforce and other interested parties to complete a survey and provide the Department with helpful information regarding the proposed changes. The Department will review the results of the survey and determine what proposals to move forward with. Currently, it is anticipated that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would receive regulatory proposals for a potential vote to send out regulations for a public comment period at the December 20, 2016 meeting.

Individual responses will be kept confidential and results will only be reported in the aggregate.

Reminder about Anti-Hazing Law Requirements:

Each secondary school principal is required to certify annually on or before October 1 that the school has met the requirements of the anti-hazing law. By November 1, ESE must notify the attorney general about any school that has not filed the required report with ESE. Information related to this requirement as well as the forms necessary to complete your school's Anti-Hazing Report are available online. Schools should send the Anti-Hazing Report directly to or fax it to 781-338-3710. Schools are not required to submit the Student Group Anti-Hazing Form but should keep the form for their records. If you need assistance, please contact Nermina Peric at 781-338-3708 or Paula Twomey at 781-338-3730.

For Your Info:

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: September 23, 2016
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