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Massachusetts Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL)

Memo from Bank Street Regarding the Transition to Implementation

Dear PAL candidates,
Congratulations! If you are preparing for the Massachusetts Performance Assessment for Leaders (PAL), you must be getting ready for your school leader license. You will be among the first to participate in the full implementation of PAL for the Program Year 2015-2016.

Transition from Field Trial:

As we convert PAL over from the Field Trial to the Program Year 2015-2016, we must complete several assessment and system steps, which will require a one-time gap in the assessment cycle between now and September 1, 2015. These steps include:

  • Creating a new enrollment process which includes a fee payment process. Starting with Program Year 2015-2016, candidates will pay $500 to enroll and complete PAL.
  • Revising the PAL materials, instructions and rubrics based on candidate and scorer feedback from the Field Trial experiences. We do not expect significant changes in the instructions and rubrics, but there will be some improvements to add clarity and further direction.

We cannot enroll candidates before these systems and changes are in place. In particular, we want all candidates to ensure that their work is consistent with the work product instructions and rubric defined expectations that will be used for Program Year 2015-2016. To support candidates, like yourself, during this interim period (July and August, 2015) we have done the following:

  • Created a candidate pre-enrollment portal so we know who is interested in enrolling prior to the opening of the new enrollment system. All candidates who sign up for the pre-enrollment during the summer will be given priority for enrolling and submitting their work when the new enrollment portal is available. (NOTE: candidates will not be able to submit any work products until the new enrollment system opens September 1, 2015.)
  • Made the Field Trial candidate support materials available for those who pre-enroll. We encourage new candidates to use the existing materials and resources now as they prepare their submissions, with the caution that all work must be reviewed in early September to be sure that it meets the Program Year 2015-2016 expectations before being submitted for scoring.
  • Continued to respond to candidates who have questions about PAL and the Program Year 2015-2016 changes by answering inquires via email and phone in a timely manner, and updating our website as needed. Please contact us at

Transition to Full Implementation:

Beginning September 1 through the beginning of November, 2015, the revised assessment guidelines and rubrics will be available and candidates can submit their work for scoring. The scoring criteria to recommend candidates for licensure will be set in early November. During this interim period, candidates' submissions will be scored but no licensure determinations will be made. Work scored during this period will be given priority for licensure decisions once the scoring criteria has been established.

Interim Period FAQ's:

We have already received several questions from candidates on steps to take during this interim period. Below are some of the most commonly raised questions and answers:

  1. I have already completed 1 or 2 tasks as part of the Field Trial. What happens to this work and my other tasks submissions?

    If you have already completed 1 or 2 tasks as part of the Field Trial, your work for these tasks will be evaluated for completion, only. The remaining work must be submitted as part of the Program year 2015-2016 and be aligned to those task expectations and rubrics. Your enrollment fee will be pro-rated based on the work you will complete this program year ($125/task). Your score will take into account the work you have completed; that work will be counted as passing score-level work.

  2. I had submitted work as part of the Field Trial, but it was returned as not responsive for the task. Am I no longer eligible for the Field Trial and must my work now be aligned with the Program year 2015-2016 expectations?

    Yes. That work is no longer eligible for the Field Trial and you will need to submit new work as part of the Program Year 2015-2016 assessment cycle. If you work was returned as not responsive for the task, it may be that you did not use the Candidate Assessment Handbook and instructions to prepare your work. Please follow the instructions carefully as you enact the tasks and prepare your work products. Candidates who do follow the handbook have better quality work products than those who do not.

  3. I have been offered a school leadership position this fall and cannot wait until November for my tasks to be scored. What can I do?

    A few candidates have reported this need. As a result, DESE is creating a waiver to allow districts to hire such candidates while their MA-PAL submissions are scored and evaluated for licensure. This policy will be posted on the MA-PAL and DESE websites for your use.

We will continue to update information as we progress throughout this interim period, and as we prepare for implementation in September. Thank you, and best of luck as you continue your work toward your principal license.


Margaret Terry Orr, PAL Assessment Development director
Afton Battle, PAL Assessment Development administrator
cc: Jennifer Briggs, DESE

Last Updated: August 11, 2015
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