DESE Updates

DESE UPDATE: April 12th, 2019

1. Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Academies Webinar: The Department is pleased to offer six intensive professional development academies designed to help school and district teams implement tiered systems of instruction and support. Any school or district may apply for these academies, but first priority will be given to schools that are designated as underperforming or chronically underperforming and schools that were in the lowest 10th percentile during the 2017-18 school year. Additional schools will be accepted for participation based on availability and relative need. These multi-year academies are available in the following areas: Inclusive Tier 1 Instruction, Tiered Literacy, Tiered Math, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Systemic Student Support (S3), and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)/Mental Health (new this year!). The Department will hold... More

DESE Update: April 5th, 2019

1. Message from Commissioner Riley about the 10th Grade English Language Arts MCAS: The Department heard from Boston Public Schools administrators on Friday, March 29, that some students had raised concerns about an essay prompt that was near the end of the 10th grade English language arts MCAS test. On Sunday, March 31, I decided that we would not score the item, and we asked districts to instruct students who were taking makeup tests not to answer the question. The test will still have a similar ratio of writing to other content as in past years, even with this essay question removed. We have a strong item review process, but this question got through. We take responsibility for it and will learn... More

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DESE Update: March 29th, 2019

1. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education: At the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting on March 26, Chair Paul Sagan said that he was stepping down now that his four-year term was over, and Secretary Peyser announced that Governor Baker had named Board member Katherine Craven as the new chair. Matthew Hills, a former Newton School Committee chair, will fill the vacancy created by Chair Sagan’s departure. The meeting’s agenda items included a discussion of family engagement initiatives, updates from the receivers of chronically underperforming districts, a unanimous vote to renew the certificate of Greenfield Virtual Commonwealth School (download) with conditions, student assessment updates, a discussion of charter schools and school finance, and an initial discussion of potential modifications to... More

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DESE Update: March 8th, 2019

1. Math Pathways Regional Meetings: The grades 9-16 Math Pathways Regional Meetings started this month and will run through April. The meetings follow the success of the 2018 Pathways Summit, a collaboration between DESE and the Department of Higher Education to lay the groundwork for implementing distinct math pathways for students. Participants at each regional meeting will communicate shifts that have already happened and frame the logistics for the project’s next phases, like adjusting the sequence and content of high school math to better align with recently adopted higher education pathways. Participants should attend in teams, which could include teachers, guidance counselors, administrators, directors and math faculty. All members of the team must register individually. Upcoming dates and locations are: •Friday, March 15... More

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DESE Update: March 1st, 2019

1. Safe and Supportive Schools Statewide Conference: Please save the date for a statewide conference on March 27, Safe and Supportive Learning Environments: Using an Equity Lens to Support All Students. Participants will learn about equitable and inclusive practices that support healthy social, emotional, and physical well-being. Teams and individuals from early childhood, elementary, middle, and high schools are invited to attend, as are as community-based representatives from early childhood and after-school and out-of-school time programs. The event will run from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. at the DoubleTree in Leominster. Registration will open March 4.  Please use this online form to register after that date. For more information, download this save the date flier. Anyone with questions can contact the Office of... More

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DESE Update: February 15th, 2019

1. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Meeting: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education met on February 12 and voted to allow Excel Academy Charter School to add 56 more seats for students in Chelsea. The school has campuses in both Boston and Chelsea. The Board also voted to extend the probation of Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School, continue some of the conditions that were already in place, and impose others. The school plans to move to Chicopee (another part of the region it serves) for the 2019-2020 school year, and the new conditions include showing the readiness of the school’s proposed facility in Chicopee by May 1, 2019. The Board also agreed to approve the school’s request to decrease... More

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DESE Update: February 8th, 2019

1. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to Meet: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 12 in Malden. The agenda includes a vote on the commissioner’s recommendation that Excel Academy Charter School, which has campuses in Boston and Chelsea, be allowed to expand its enrollment by 56 students; a report on probation and a charter amendment request for the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School in Holyoke; a progress report on the Alma del Mar Charter School-New Bedford partnership; a vote to solicit public comment on the draft updated arts curriculum framework; a vote to establish an interim competency determination standard on the high school science MCAS as the state transitions to the... More

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DESE Update: February 1st, 2019

1. School Choice Reporting Requirement for the 2019-2020 School Year: The inter-district school choice law (G.L. c.76, s.12B) requires all districts to accept incoming school choice students unless the school committee votes not to participate or votes to limit the number of incoming students in particular grades. School committees must take the required vote annually before June 1. This year, DESE is fully implementing an electronic reporting system, eliminating the need for districts to send individual letters regarding school choice participation. All districts must report their school choice participation plans no later than June 1. The Department will publish the information on DESE’s school choice webpage to inform families of these options. Please note that if the district does not submit a response, More

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DESE Update: January 25th, 2019

1. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Meeting: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education met on January 22 and approved two motions with respect to an expansion request from Alma del Mar Charter School (download) in New Bedford. The first motion approved an expansion of 450 seats as part of an innovative compromise between the charter school and the New Bedford Public Schools to serve New Bedford families. If the negotiations and legislation needed for that compromise do not come to pass, the Board’s second motion would apply and would grant Alma del Mar an increase of 594 seats following the normal process. The Board also voted to renew the charter for City on a Hill Charter Public School, New Bedford... More

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DESE Update: January 18th, 2019

1. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Meetings: The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education held a special meeting on January 14. Commissioner Riley announced that he, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, and Alma del Mar Charter School Executive Director Will Gardner had reached a proposed compromise on Alma del Mar’s expansion request. The Board is scheduled to vote on Commissioner Riley’s recommendation at its January 22 meeting. Also on January 14, the Board learned about redesigned school and district report cards and heard an update on automated test scoring. All students will continue to have their MCAS essays scored by a human, but the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will start using automated scoring as a second score for at... More

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