Success for Every Student
DESE works to support the success of all students after graduation. We promote student success through a statewide approach to strengthen standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment; promote educator development and diversity; support social-emotional learning, health, and safety; enhance resource allocation and data use; and turn around the lowest performing districts and schools.
Center for District Support
Through the Center for District Support, DESE began implementation of the Student Opportunity Act; continued its work with the Lawrence, Holyoke, and Southbridge public schools; offered professional development opportunities related to tiered student supports; and supported districts as they work to address gaps in access and equity. Highlights included Governor Baker signing into law the Student Opportunity Act (Chapter 123 of the Acts of 2019), leading DESE to draw up guidance for districts' Student Opportunity Act plans; completing a district review of the Boston Public Schools and mapping out priority areas for the district and DESE to work on to address persistent challenges; and hosting the second annual Leading with Access and Equity Convening in October, giving district teams free professional development designed to help them meet students' holistic needs.
Center for Educational Options
During the 2019-20 school year, the Center for Educational Options worked across several offices to expand, enhance, and ensure equitable access to high quality educational options for learners of all ages, especially for those who have been historically underserved. Highlights included the approval of 25 new Innovation Pathways, 17 new secondary and postsecondary Chapter 74 programs, 4 new After Dark CVTE partnerships, and six new Early College partnerships; the finalization of the Prenatal through Young Adulthood Family Engagement Framework; hosting the Sharing for Success Dissemination Fair; and the addition of a new Adult and Community Learning Services service delivery model that will increase education, training, and employment services to more than 500 additional adult learners. In addition, the center's Problem Resolution System investigated a record 816 complaints filed by parents, advocates or attorneys, conducted 18 general education alternative dispute resolution mediations (a new process), and, through proactive outreach, supported the resolution of 114 concerns without a formal complaint needing to be filed.
Center for Instructional Support
The Center for Instructional Support focused on increasing the review, selection and skillful use of high-quality instructional materials; evidence-based early literacy; and working with educators across the state to increase their efficacy and diversify the profession. Highlights included: educators participating in CURATE (Curriculum Ratings by Teachers) produced over 15 curriculum reviews and helped add two products to the master service agreement that streamlines districts' procurement of high-quality instructional materials; more than 800 educators at 43 elementary schools participated in DESE's Early Grades Literacy Grant program; DESE supported, through the creation of the Civics Project Guidebook and in other ways, the hundreds of educators who implemented civics projects for the first time in the 2019-20 school year; and the Commonwealth saw an 84 percent rise in the number of districts participating in the State Seal of Biliteracy, with 97 districts awarding a total of 1,790 seals.
Center for Strategic Initiatives
The Center's work during FY20 included diversifying the educator workforce and supporting proven programs to accelerate student achievement. Highlights included welcoming 26 aspiring superintendents from 15 districts to the first year of Influence 100, a four-year pilot program designed to work with individuals and their districts to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of superintendents, create more culturally responsive districts and leaders, and promote better student outcomes; continuation of the Teacher Diversification Pilot Program Grant, which issued 144 vouchers to 20 districts to help future teachers get the preparation they need to pass the Massachusetts Tests of Educator Licensure (MTEL); and the awarding of the Sontag Prize to 80 teachers, a recognition that included the chance to teach in an Acceleration Academy during February vacation. (Although the April vacation Acceleration Academies were canceled due to COVID-19, most of the districts involved ran summer Acceleration Academies instead.)
Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning
The Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning launched in fall 2019 as a pilot program designed to support Massachusetts schools and districts in implementing Deeper Learning. The pilot provides professional learning on the implementation of Deeper Learning for cohorts of schools, elevates best practices and artifacts from the field, and examines the district- and state-level enablers that both currently exist and are needed for this work. In November 2019, Senior Associate Commissioner Komal Bhasin and Implementation Director Michelle Ryan began developing the foundational tools and guidance documents for the pilot program. 493 schools and districts expressed interest in joining Kaleidoscope's inaugural cohort, and in February 2020, after an application process, school visits and student and staff focus groups, Kaleidoscope admitted 20 schools and districts to Cohort 1. Each of these schools and districts worked closely with the Kaleidoscope team to identify specific goals and program action steps, build a Deeper Learning team, and engage in regular Kaleidoscope professional learning sessions. The Department will continue to work with this Cohort through the 2020-2021 academic year.
Office of Planning and Research
The Office of Planning and Research continued to partner with outside researchers, explore innovative opportunities, and refine the federal grants process. Highlights included a report that Brown University issued in partnership with DESE that found that MCAS scores predict long-term educational attainments and labor market success; federal approval and a $2.9 million, four-year competitive federal grant for an innovative science assessment to be given in 2021 to grades 5 and 8 and which will be aligned to Kaleidoscope's deeper learning focus; continuation of the "Spending Blending" pilot program to explore ways districts can blend federal funding streams to more flexibly serve students; and revisions to DESE's Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical grant application to meet the requirements and equity considerations in the recently reauthorized federal law.