DESE Update: August 16th, 2019

1. EWIS and VOCAL Data Release and Training Opportunity:

Initial Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS) and preliminary Views of Climate and Learning (VOCAL) data will be coming out on or around August 21. The Department will offer several data usage workshops entitled “Maximizing EWIS and VOCAL data in a Cycle of Inquiry” this fall. Each session will cover the basics of EWIS as well as an introduction to VOCAL data. More information, including dates, locations, registration, is available online. For more information, email

  • Views of Climate and Learning (VOCAL) Data Release: The VOCAL data include index scores (overall school climate score and three-dimension scores) and item response data based upon all students within participating districts and schools. Full graphical reports that provide subgroup data will be available in the fall. The data are in the Office of Planning and Research’s folder within Drop Box Central in the Security Portal. The data is provided in an Excel workbook for each district and school.
  • Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS) Data Release: Educators can review EWIS data in Edwin to understand which students are at risk of missing important academic milestones and to develop additional supports tailored to their students’ strengths and needs. Student claiming must be complete to see EWIS information for the 2020 school year. See the Student Claiming User Guide for details.

Early Warning Indicator System data is only available for districts that submitted all of their statewide data collections (Education Personnel Information Management SystemStudent Course Schedule, and School Safety Discipline Report). Districts that did not meet the due dates for this data will not have EWIS data in the initial release in Edwin Analytics in time for the start of the school year.

Picture of the Week:
On August 15, Commissioner Riley spoke with members of the State Student Advisory Council who were at DESE for leadership training. The student chair of the State Student Advisory Council, currently Matthew Tibbitts of Ludlow High School, serves as a full voting member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In a large room, Commissioner Riley stands on the left with his back mainly to the camera as he talks to a roomful of high school students at DESE.

3. Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council Nominations:

The Department is seeking nominations to fill three vacant seats on the School and District Accountability and Assistance Advisory Council. The 15-member council advises the Board on matters pertaining to the development and implementation of the Commonwealth’s district and school accountability and assistance system. The council includes eight at-large members with a demonstrated record of achievement or academic expertise in an education-related field, one business/industry member with a proven commitment to education, and six members who are nominated by specific entities. The current vacancies are for three at-large members. The Department encourages diverse candidates to apply. Please submit nominations by email to Erica Gonzales, the council’s liaison, at by September 6.

4. Openings on Digital Learning Advisory Council:

The Digital Learning Advisory Council has seats open for individuals interested in helping DESE and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education envision an effective digital learning future for all students. Specifically, council members may work on areas such as:

  • Policies guiding virtual schools, supplemental online courses, education technology, and other matters related to virtual education;
  • Best practices for encouraging online education to complement classroom instruction in district schools; and
  • The fee that DESE may retain for the administration of the virtual school program.

The council will meet at least four times annually. Interested candidates should submit a cover letter of interest and a resume to Commissioner Riley care of Ruth Hersh at or Ruth Hersh, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148 by September 15. While the law specifies that the council include specific representatives from various stakeholder groups, DESE is also recruiting candidates representing diverse communities with expertise in digital learning and education.

5. Anti-Hazing Data Collection Procedures:

On August 29, the anti-hazing data collection for the 2019-2020 school year will begin and can be accessed by logging into the anti-hazing application accessible via MassEdu Gateway. Certification from secondary school principals or headmasters that the school complies with the anti-hazing law is due on or before October 1.

6. Charter School Prospectuses:

The Department recently announced that prospectuses had come in from four groups seeking to open new charter schools in Lynn, Milford and Westfield. In addition, three existing charter schools have submitted requests to expand their enrollment: a Horace Mann (district-approved) charter school in Boston and Commonwealth (independent) charter schools in Saugus and Springfield.

Commissioner Riley will decide by mid-September which applicant groups to invite to submit full proposals for new schools, and comments on proposed new schools will be solicited during the final application stage.

With respect to the expansion requests, the commissioner and Board will consider comments solicited from the superintendents within each charter school’s proposed district or region. Members of the public may also submit written comments regarding expansion requests to: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, c/o Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign, 75 Pleasant St. Malden, MA 02148 or by email to