Teachers' Top Three from ESE - June 30, 2016
Note: The deadline for applying for ESE's 2016-17 Teacher and Principal Advisory Cabinets has been extended to August 1, 2016. Learn more and apply.
Did You Know?: Fourth and Eighth Graders to Take Next-Gen MCAS on Computers in Spring 2017
As the state moves toward computer-based testing for virtually all students by spring 2019, ESE has announced that it expects fourth and eighth graders to take the spring 2017 English language arts and math next-generation MCAS on computers. The Department's Office of Digital Learning will help schools that anticipate having a hard time meeting this timeline, and in exceptional circumstances, ESE will waive the computer-based testing if the school has made a good-faith effort to comply and has a plan for offering computer-based assessments in spring 2018.
A few points to note: the spring 2017 testing window is longer than usual to make it easier for districts to schedule computer-based assessments; the specifications for the vendor for the next-generation MCAS required that the test be accessible on a variety of devices; spring 2017 is the debut of the next-generation MCAS, and schools' accountability ratings will be held harmless from declines in spring 2017 test scores; and paper versions of all tests will always be available as an accommodation for students whose individualized education program (IEP) requires them. In addition, we expect to have a process for principals to request paper tests for a small number of students who do not have IEPs but who are unable to take a computer-based test for other reasons.
New Resources (Part 1): New Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards
On Tuesday, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously to adopt new digital literacy and computer science standards, marking the first time the state has had a statewide computer science curriculum framework . This wouldn't have been possible without the help of approximately 18 public school teachers and technology directors who worked on the standards with representatives from higher education, industry, and groups like Massachusetts Computer Using Educators (MassCUE). Thank you to all!
Schools could begin using the new, voluntary standards as soon as September, and ESE will continue to collaborate with the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN) to help districts with implementation. In addition, ESE is working with the Education Development Center (EDC), which has a National Science Foundation STEM+C Design and Development grant to develop elementary school curriculum units that integrate computational thinking in math and science lessons.
New Resources (Part 2): Understanding the Impact of Poverty on Student Outcomes
The Department has a new online interactive training module that was guided by ongoing work with Low-income Education Access Project (LEAP) districts and collaboratives. The Low-income Education Access Project is a collaboration between ESE, participating districts, collaboratives and agencies to assess why low-income students are being disproportionally identified for special education and/or substantially separate placements. The training module is intended to help people understand the impact poverty can have on student outcomes and is designed for school and district use with groups or individuals.
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