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Educator Evaluation

District-Determined Measures (DDMs)

Superintendents and Race to the Top Charter School Leaders
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed. D, Commissioner
April 12, 2013


Throughout the current school year as I have traveled across the state and heard from many of you, I have been enormously impressed with district efforts to implement the new educator evaluation system. My visits and conversations with you have also made clear your strong desire to be thoughtful in your implementation efforts. If done well, evaluation is an opportunity to promote the growth and development of our educators. By providing useful feedback on teaching practice and linking observations to evidence of student learning, an evaluation system can provide opportunities to support teachers to grow, to learn from high-performing teachers, to identify what is working, and to adopt practices that promote better student learning. District-determined measures are a critical component of the evaluation system in providing educators in all grades and subjects with data about their students' growth.

The Massachusetts evaluation system relies upon administrators working with teachers to assess student learning. In developing DDMs as collaborative work, educators will be identifying the measures to use in determining their own impact. I am writing to inform you that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) is revising its timeline for the identification and implementation of District-Determined Measures (DDMs) in direct response to feedback from you.

The 2013-2014 school year will now be a year for identifying and piloting DDMs. Our shared goal is the same: For all districts to implement DDMs for all grades and subjects during the 2014-2015 school year to use in determining Impact Ratings for all educators by the end of 2015-2016. The timeline and reporting requirements presented in this letter will apply to all districts - including Level 4 districts, Race to the Top districts and charter schools, and non-Race to the Top districts. The implication of the revised timeline is three-fold:

  • First, districts do not have to collect and report Year 1 Impact Rating data during the 2013-14 school year - instead, we expect that DDM research and piloting is happening - subject to the following caveat. I am aware that some districts have already identified DDMs to implement in 2013-2014 and may be poised to determine Impact Ratings for some educators at the close of the 2014-2015 school year. Those districts should proceed as planned. This communication is not intended to slow or delay any district's implementation timeline.

  • Second, districts will have until February of 2014 (thus postponing the September 2013 deadline) to research and pilot the use of DDMs before notifying DESE of the plan to implement DDMs in the 2014-2015 school year for all educators.

  • The expectation is that DDMs will be implemented in the 2014-2015 school year and that by the close of the 2015-2016 school year, districts will submit Impact Ratings based on two years of data.

Revised Implementation Timeline:

  1. In 2013-2014, districts are required to research and pilot DDMs for some grades and subjects.

  2. In 2013-2014, at a minimum, districts must pilot at least one DDM that is aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks in each of the following areas:

    1. Early grade (K-3) literacy
    2. Early (K-3) grade math
    3. Middle grade (5-8) math
    4. High school writing to text
    5. Traditionally non-tested grades and subjects (e.g., fine arts, music, p.e.)

If a district is unable to create these DDMs in the grades and subjects listed above, the district must pilot one of DESE's exemplar DDMs in each of these areas; DESE plans to release these DDMs in summer 2013.

By September 2013, all districts must report to ESE:

  1. The identified potential DDMs the district will pilot during the 2013-2014 school year and the grades and subjects to which they are aligned. This submission must address the minimum thresholds in early grade literacy, early grade math, middle grades math and high school writing to text, as described above.

  2. The grades and subjects for which the district has not identified potential DDMs and will research and/or develop measures to pilot in the spring 2014.

By February 21 2014, districts must report a final plan for determining Impact Ratings based on the DDMs for all educators by the end of the 2015-2016 school year.


The work of identifying and implementing DDMs for all educators is challenging and critical work. The pace is swift because the implications for students are enormous. In an effort to support you in this challenging work, DESE will continue to provide support and technical assistance, such as:

  • Release Technical Guide A this spring to assist in identifying and selecting growth measures;

  • Procuring the services of a vendor this spring to assist in the collection, evaluation and posting of assessments that districts may choose to use as district-determined measures. Our goal is for the prototypes to be available this summer.

  • Publish this summer model collective bargaining language as well as additional guidance about topics such as teacher attribution, roster verification and determining Impact Ratings.

  • Conduct ongoing webinar series and technical assistance meetings. Register for the webinar series. See attached handout for the full list of topics, dates and times.

As we have stated in the past, it is important that districts be proactive in organizing now for the work. We suggest taking the following action so districts can position themselves for success:

  • Identify a team of administrators, teachers and specialists to focus and plan the district's work on district-determined measures.

  • Assess educators' understanding of the basics of how the MCAS Student Growth Percentile is derived and how it can be used to understand student growth and progress; develop a plan for ensuring educator understanding.

  • Complete an inventory of existing assessments used in the district's schools.

  • Assess where there are strengths to build on and gaps to fill.

  • Discuss with the district's educational collaborative or other district partner, its interest and capacity to assist member districts in the work of identifying and evaluating assessments that may serve as district-determined measures.

  • Plan a process for implementing district-determined measures where appropriate measures have been identified.

  • Plan a process for piloting district-determined measures where potential measures have been identified.

  • Plan a process for researching and/or developing measures where no existing measures are deemed appropriate.

  • Create (or augment) the district's communication plan to ensure that educators, school board members, and other stakeholders understand the role that district-determined measures will play in the new evaluation framework as well as their timetable for implementation.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. If you have any further questions, please contact Ron Noble at 781-338-3243 or by email at I look forward to continued partnership to develop a first-rate evaluation system that recognizes and supports educators in every district in the Commonwealth.

Last Updated: May 13, 2013
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