Monday, June 19, 2017

Another Engaging ELs in Math WIDA Workshop!

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is proud to offer another WIDA professional development opportunity at no cost to districts.

Please distribute this in your networks and encourage the following audience to attend: Educators who work with ELs and also teach math, ESL/bilingual teachers, coaches, administrators, curriculum developers, and support staff.

WIDA WORKSHOP: Engaging ELs in Math
August 8-9 2017 8:30 to 3:30  Dean Technical High School 1045 Main St, Holyoke, MA 01040 1st Floor Computer Lab (Room 194) (413) 534-2071

·    Please be sure to obtain all necessary administrative district permissions before registering (varies by district).
·    Registrations are processed on a first come, first serve basis.
·    Please double-check that you are entering your correct-email address on the registration. 
·    The registration confirmation only lists the first day of the workshop, but confirmation serves for all workshop days. 
·    State-sponsored WIDA workshops offer you PDPs, but they do not lead to an SEI endorsement on your license. Please visit the RETELL page for SEI endorsement information.

This is a state-sponsored course offered at NO COST to Massachusetts educators. However, participation is not free, and therefore the application and registration require a participant’s full commitment to every date, all times, and all workshop requirements.

·    Participants must commit to full attendance on all days of a workshop. We have long waitlists for workshops, so there are no exceptions to commitment to 100% attendance.
·    Participants who register to a workshop and do not show up risk being excluded from future offerings.

·    There are no make-up sessions, even in cases of emergency.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Massachusetts Releases 2017-2018 Testing Schedule

DESE is pleased to release the 2017-2018 testing schedule for MCAS tests and ACCESS for ELLs, and the submission deadline for the MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt).  To access the schedules, please visit this website.

DESE sincerely appreciates the patience of districts and schools as they have worked to develop this schedule. Districts that previously scheduled activities and now find a conflict with a specific high school testing date should contact the Office of Student Assessment Services at: or 781-338-3625

Experienced principals will note that grade 10 ELA testing will begin slightly later than in spring 2017; this is being done in case of school cancellations due to snow. Grade 10 Mathematics testing will also begin later in 2018 in order to avoid testing during the first few days of Ramadan. For the purpose of scheduling make-up sessions for high schools and for scheduling test sessions for grades 3-8, state and federal laws require schools to make reasonable accommodations for the needs of students and employees who observe religious holidays.

Note that grades 4, 5, 7, and 8 tests in ELA, Mathematics, and STE are expected to be administered online. Schools may choose to administer either computer-based tests or paper-based tests for grades 3 and 6.

For grades 3-8, DESE will be gathering input from stakeholder groups, surveys, and data from computer-based testing this past spring to help inform whether DESE should make any adjustments to the schedule. DESE will confirm the schedule or note any changes in the back-to-school edition of the Student Assessment Update this fall.

Thank you!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Invitation to Apply for Next-Generation MCAS Standard Setting Panel

Beginning August 14, 2017, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will conduct a week-long standard setting event for the next-generation MCAS tests in grades 3-8 ELA and mathematics. The standard setting will be conducted by panels of Massachusetts educators and other stakeholders, working in coordination with expert facilitators. We are pleased to invite educators and stakeholders from across the state to apply to participate on one of these panels.

The purpose of the standard setting is to identify appropriate cut scores for the next-generation MCAS achievement levels. A cut score defines the minimum performance required for a particular level of achievement. The panelists will make recommendations regarding the level of knowledge that students are expected to demonstrate to be categorized into each next-generation MCAS achievement level.

Panelists will be organized into six committees (grades 3-4 ELA, grades 5-6 ELA, grades 7-8 ELA, grades 3-4 mathematics, grades 5-6 mathematics, and grades 7-8 mathematics). Each committee will consist of 20-24 members, divided into tables of 4 or 5 panelists led by a table leader.
We are looking for panelists with content expertise, familiarity with the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks, and, in most cases, direct teaching experience in the grade and subject matter chosen. Although we anticipate that the majority of panelists will be licensed classroom teachers or curriculum coordinators working in a school, we are also interested in applications from other education professionals and representatives from higher education, as well as additional stakeholders who have relevant experience with the content and curriculum frameworks.
This is an excellent professional development opportunity for educators to help define the next-generation MCAS, and we hope that you will share this invitation widely with your teachers and school communities.

Responsibilities of Panelists
Panelists will be asked to review test questions, student work, scoring guides, and other information and data to make recommendations on how test content and student performance relate to the next-generation achievement levels (Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, and Not Meeting Expectations). Additionally, panelists who are selected as table leaders will be expected to facilitate discussions among their group, assist in maintaining security measures, and perform other duties in support of the room facilitator. All panelists will receive on-site training and support throughout the process.

Panelist Commitment
The standard setting event will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Danvers from 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m., August 14-17, 2017. All panelists must be able to attend all four full days. Additionally, all table leaders will be required to attend the morning of Friday, August 18, for a cross-panel discussion.

Reimbursement of Expenses
Panelists will be reimbursed for mileage, and lodging will be provided for panelists who live 55 or more miles away from the meeting site. Breakfast and lunch will be provided each day for all attendees, and those staying overnight will also receive dinner. In addition, all panelists will receive professional development points for their service.

Application Procedure
Individuals interested in serving as panelists should complete the application form  and complete the online application survey: SurveyGizmo: 2017 MCAS Standard Setting Panelist Application. Instructions for uploading the application form are provided at the end of the survey. The form must be uploaded via the SurveyGizmo link in order for the application to be considered complete.
The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, May 19, 2017. Panelists will be notified of their selection via email in early June, 2017.

If applicants have any questions, they may contact the Student Assessment Office at 781-338-3625 or email

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Brand New WIDA Workshop: Engaging ELs in Math

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is proud to offer a brand new WIDA professional development opportunity at no cost to districts! 

When: May 2-3 2017 from 8:30-3:30
Where: Sky View Middle School, 500 Kennedy Way, Leominster, MA
How: Register here
  • Create a common understanding of Academic Language and proficiency levels
  • Have a deeper understanding of the Mathematical Practices
  • Engage in instructional strategies that support creating language rich environments for students to create meaning in the math classroom
  • Apply targeted supports for a variety of proficiency levels
For questions or comments, please contact

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Massachusetts Adopts New ELA and Math Learning Standards!

I am excited to announce that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted unanimously yesterday to adopt revised learning standards in math and in English language arts and literacy. The revised standards are unique to Massachusetts and embody the Commonwealth's commitment to maintaining the highest quality curriculum standards in the nation.
The revised standards are the product of more than a year of work by Massachusetts educators and ESE staff. Educators drew from their experience with the existing standards, and the recommendations also reflect feedback received through public comment, including through an online survey.
In English language arts and literacy, the changes include:
•    Multiple cross-references to make the reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language standards more coherent;
•     Instructional examples and samples of student writing from Massachusetts classrooms to clarify the meaning of the standards; and
•     An explanation of how literacy instruction — particularly in the early elementary years — is intertwined with mathematics, science, social studies, the arts, and other subjects in a well-balanced curriculum.
In math, the changes include:
•     Stronger learning progressions for pattern recognition in the early grades; the measurement of circles in the middle grades; and ratio, rate and proportions in the middle grades; and
•     Added guidance for making decisions about course sequences that includes pathways to calculus and other advanced mathematics courses.
"Massachusetts' ability to continually adapt and update our educational standards is an important part of why our students and public schools lead the nation in many categories," Governor Charlie Baker said.  "I am confident that the standards adopted today, with collaboration from educators, will continue to help successfully guide our students throughout their Massachusetts education."
"I am happy to have voted for these revised standards, and I believe they continue Massachusetts' tradition of high expectations for all students," said Education Secretary James Peyser. "While many people have expressed concerns about the role that the Common Core State Standards played in developing our 2010 standards, I want to make it clear that the 2017 standards are the Commonwealth's own," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "These revised standards were developed by Massachusetts educators and represent the input of hundreds of the Commonwealth's preK-12 and higher education faculty. I am confident that the standards adopted today will help prepare students for success after high school."
The standards adopted today describe what students should know and be able to do in English language arts and literacy and in math at each grade level. The standards are not a curriculum, and they do not specify which materials teachers should use. In Massachusetts, curriculum, materials and methods are determined at the local level.
The revised standards are the result of a vote the Board took in November 2015 on Commissioner Chester's recommendation to work with Massachusetts preK-12 educators and higher education faculty to identify changes to the English language arts and literacy and math standards that would ensure the Commonwealth's standards match those of the most aspirational education systems in the world and prepare students well for college, careers, and civic participation.
The Department will help districts implement the new standards starting with the 2017-18 school year. The next-generation MCAS will be aligned to the standards starting in spring 2018.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

PARCC Publishes High School Test Items

Late last month, PARCC published more than 50 authentic test items from the 2015-16 assessments for grades 9 through 11. These newly-published items complement the test materials from last year's assessments for grades 3 through 8, which were released in December, and the more than 850 test items from 2014-15 assessments released last year. Altogether, this collection of more than 1,400 released items equates roughly to one full test per grade from each year, in both English language arts and mathematics. Not only are the released items designed to be an important resource for teachers and students alike, but they represent the PARCC consortium's commitment to transparency.

The high school-level materials were released in PDF format, and include selected-response questions from both subjects, along with accompanying answer keys and performance-level descriptors. This material is designed to show viewers precisely which core competencies are measured for each released item and what is needed for a student to reach each of the five potential scoring levels on the PARCC assessments. In addition, the item release includes reading passages and open-ended response questions from last year's assessments, along with authentic student responses from each scoring level. For more information, and to view the entire catalog of released items, click here.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

MCAS Math Practice Tests-Hot off the Press!

The MCAS math paper-based practice tests have been released!  Grades 3-8 as well as grade 10 are now available to the public.  Some of the rubrics have also been posted. The computer based practice tests are not yet out for math, but will be in the next few days. Feel free to check out the newly released math tests here