Office of the Commissioner

Commissioner's Back-to-School Update

Preparing for a Successful School Year

August 2021

As we head into a new school year, I want to express my gratitude to all the educators, administrators, school staff, parents, health professionals, and community members who have continued to support our students throughout the pandemic. You have truly made a difference during a very difficult time, and I appreciate your hard work.

When school starts this fall, students will be back in classrooms with their teachers, a return to the learning community that is critical to students' growth and development. As schools work to rebuild what the pandemic disrupted, DESE is providing several resources. They include:

We will also continue to work on important priorities: building the capacity for deeper learning through the Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning, making it easier for districts to choose and skillfully use high-quality curriculum materials, encouraging evidence-based practices in early literacy instruction, developing an innovative science assessment for grades 5 and 8 designed for deeper learning, and increasing the diversity of the educator workforce.

We knew before the pandemic that good instruction was a key component of student success, and teachers' role may be more crucial this year than ever. I encourage you to celebrate outstanding teaching in your district when you see it. You can download our annual reference on ways to recognize teachers . Please know that I applaud the efforts of all the administrators, educators, and staff in your schools, especially this past year.

I wish you and your school communities a wonderful school year, and appreciate all that you do for Massachusetts students.


Jeffrey C. Riley

Last Updated: August 31, 2021

Jeffrey C. Riley
Jeffrey C. Riley
Commissioner of Elementary
and Secondary Education

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