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Commissioner's Weekly Update - September 6, 2013

We wish you the best for a productive and successful 2013-14 school year. Your work in classrooms, schools, and districts across the Commonwealth paves the path to a brighter future for your individual students, the Commonwealth as a whole, the nation, and the world. Our successes and failures in public education have greater consequences on the future than in any other profession. ESE stands ready to support your efforts to ensure that all of the Commonwealth's students receive a top-notch education and graduate from high school ready for college and careers.

Release of Spring 2013 MCAS Results and Accountability Data:

The tentative release date for the spring 2013 school and district MCAS results and accountability data is either Thursday, Sept. 19 or Monday, Sept. 23. As a reminder, district and school leaders must keep all spring 2013 MCAS and accountability data strictly confidential until the time that ESE releases it publicly. ESE will provide a further update on its release schedule in the Sept. 13 Weekly Update, including our plans for a separate release of the statewide trend MCAS results.

Update on Education Evaluation:

ESE has published Technical Guide B Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document, which is a supplement to Part VII Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document of the Massachusetts Model Educator Evaluation System. The intent of the guide is to help districts prepare to select and pilot meaningful and informative District-Determined Measures (DDMs) that measure student growth. The guide will also identify clear next steps for piloting DDMs during the 2013-14 school year. The feedback and reviews we have received from educators have informed our work and allowed us to ensure that Technical Guide B addresses the needs of districts and schools.

Next week, ESE will post exemplar DDMs that cover a wide array of grades/subjects and courses. Each of the more than 600 options includes a one-page summary for informing decision making and key links to additional information. Districts may use this resource to select and implement DDMs (with or without modifications) or to serve as a model for developing local measures. Districts may also use other assessments as DDMs. The collection of exemplar DDMs is not exhaustive, and ESE will continue to revise and add to the selection. We encourage you to contact us at educatorevaluation@doe.mass.edu to share promising DDMs, including assessments developed locally.

As a reminder, all districts and Race to the Top charter schools must submit to ESE a list of the DDMs they will pilot during the 2013-14 school year by Sept. 30. Please do this by completing the District DDM Piloting template and emailing it to educatorevaluation@doe.mass.edu.

New E-Rate Rules - Public Comment:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is accepting public comment on proposed new rules to modernize the federal E-Rate program. E-Rate provides schools with discounts on services for telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections. Massachusetts districts received nearly $31 million in discounts through E-Rate in Fiscal Year 2012. To address the President's goal to provide broadband connectivity to schools, the FCC is proposing new rules around increasing broadband capacity, cost-effective purchasing, and streamlining program administration. Interested parties may submit public comment by Sept. 16 through an online form located at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/upload/display?z=5ornv. For tips from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) on submitting comments, go to http://www.setda.org/web/guest/erate_modernization.

For Your Info:

  • New Cybersecurity Competition: On Sept. 12, Governor Patrick will launch the Governor's Cyber Acres State Championship in Massachusetts to identify and develop young talent in cybersecurity. The competition aims to address a critical skills gap in this area by engaging high school students from across the state in the fundamentals of cybersecurity and developing their interest and skills. Students may participate in an online competition, with tutorials and quizzes. Top scorers will then take part in a final event with head-to-head Net Wars competition in May 2014. We encourage you to invite your high school students to register for this exciting opportunity. To learn more about this free online training and competition, go to http://www.cyberaces.org/.
  • 2013-14 Green Ribbon Schools Award: Massachusetts will once again participate in the U.S. Department of Education's (USED) Green Ribbon Schools program during the 2013-14 school year. We invite school, district, and municipal staff to attend a Green Ribbon Schools Award Conference on Sept. 27, 2013 at Mt. Wachusett Community College in Gardner. Participants will meet 2012 Green Ribbon awardees who will provide technical assistance and help to mentor school staff and students, hear about application procedures, and gather valuable and useful resources. For more info on the conference, go to http://www.doe.mass.edu/finance/sbuilding/GreenRibbon/.
  • November MCAS Retest Materials: High school principals should order November 2013 MCAS English Language Arts and Mathematics Retest materials by Sept. 13 by completing an order form posted at http://www.mcasservicecenter.com/. All high school principals must complete an order form even if no students will participate in the retests. As a reminder, superintendents must ensure that private special education schools and educational collaboratives order materials for students in out-of-district placements. Please contact the MCAS Service Center at 800-737-5103 with any questions about ordering materials. For policy-related questions, please contact the Student Assessment Unit at mcas@doe.mass.edu.

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Last Updated: September 12, 2013
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