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2016-17 Superintendents' Checklist

Dear Superintendents:

We've had a busy year upgrading curriculum frameworks, beginning the development of a next generation MCAS, witnessing the passage of ESSA, and exploring the role of social-emotional learning.

We've have many successes. In particular, the Commonwealth's dropout rates decreased as more students are graduating. Less than half as many students dropped out in 2014-15 (5,346) than in 2006/07 (11,436). I credit you for doubling down your efforts to re-engage students. While we have much to celebrate, we also have persistent achievement gaps. We are aligning our work internally to focus on these areas.

Through my school visits across the Commonwealth, I see your efforts to provide our students with a first class education. Thank you!

As a service to superintendents, each year we provide a checklist of tasks local school districts must complete throughout the year. The checklist is organized in a manner that we hope is helpful to you, including:

  • A modified color scheme and layout to enhance usability.
  • Identification of specific categories for easy sorting (charters, data report and review, finance, testing, etc.)
  • A "Person Responsible" column to identify district staff assigned to the task.
  • An "ESE Submission" column that clearly identifies items districts are required to submit directly to ESE; as opposed to keeping on file at the district level. All items on the checklist are required; this is intended to provide further clarification for ESE collected items only.
  • The ability to mark tasks as complete.

The majority of activities on the 2016-17 checklist remain unchanged from 2015-16. I would, however, like to draw your attention to a few important milestones and upcoming activities that are not reflected in the checklist:

  • Student Assessment: I thank you for another successful administration of MCAS and PARCC. This school year, over seventy percent of grade 3-8 students took PARCC.

    We are on-track with our progress for developing the Next-Generation MCAS. A few updates:

    • A twelve-member vendor selection committee, including Department staff, representatives from Massachusetts school districts and public higher education, evaluated the two assessment proposals. The vendor selection committee has determined that Measured Progress's proposal best met the Commonwealth's requirements. An Intent to Award a contract was released, and we are currently finalizing contract negotiations prior to awarding the contract.
    • You received information announcing plans for students in grades 4 and 8 to take the computer-based test in 2017. The Office of Digital Learning will assist districts in preparing Download PDF Document  Download Powerpoint Presentation. We will continue to update you as resources become available.
    • You also received information that we will not be able to accurately calculate statewide results due to the mix of district choice (last year we used a representative sample).
    • The Department released the 2016-17 testing schedule and data review and release schedule Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document.
    • You will hear more on testing decisions, reporting timelines, and work group recommendations before the start of the school year. We will also have a back to school packet for districts focused on the Next Generation MCAS and curriculum standards review.
  • ESSA and Accountability: DESE is gathering feedback from a broad range of stakeholders about Massachusetts' school and district accountability and assistance system in light of the coming changes in statewide assessments and federal law. Over 2,300 people weighed in via our survey tool and many district participated in our focus groups. We will bring this topic to the Board for discussion in the fall. At that point, we expect to have developed specific options in response to the feedback we have heard.

  • Updating Curriculum Frameworks: We've hit major milestones this year in revisiting and upgrading our curriculum frameworks.

  • Social-Emotional Learning and Supports: Superintendents, with the principals association, association of school committees and the Rennie Center, have taken the lead on this work. As part of our reorganization, we are structuring the student support office to support district efforts to address social/emotional learning efforts. The Department will report back this fall.

In addition, please continue to visit our website for further information, newsletters, frequently asked questions, and resources. Links to many of our key initiatives are featured on our homepage for easy navigation.

Download MS EXCEL Document
Superintendents' Checklist

Last Updated: July 14, 2016
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