Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Registrations Now Available for January MCAS Training Sessions

Schools and districts may now register for the following training sessions by following the links in the table below:

Training Dates
MCAS grades 3–8 and HS tests
MCAS Accessibility and Accommodations
Overview of accommodations and accessibility features for CBT and PBT
·         for grades 3–8 tests
·         for operational high school tests
New principals, MCAS test coordinators, technology coordinators, special education administrators and supervisors
MCAS grades 3–8 and high school tests and field tests (FTs)/question tryouts (QTs)
Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile
Overview of the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) process for ordering test materials and updating selected accommodations
Principals, MCAS test coordinators, technology coordinators
MCAS HS tests and FTs/QTs
MCAS Test Security and Administration Protocols for High Schools
·         Test security requirements and test administration protocols
·         Participation guidelines
·         Accommodations for operational tests
·         Accommodations and accessibility features for field tests/question tryouts
·         Additional information for new principals
High school principals, MCAS test coordinators

New high school principals are expected to attend this session.Principals who cannot attend may listen to a recording after the session.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Seeking Information on Curricular Materials

Did you know that mounting evidence suggests that providing teachers will access to high-quality, standards-aligned curricular materials may be a powerful lever for improving student outcomes?  It's true!  One meta-analysis found that replacing mediocre curricular materials with great ones has on average 40 times the impact per dollar that reducing class sizes does.  Well designed curricular materials can lessen teachers' workloads, deepen their pedagogical content knowledge, and increase coherence in and across grades.

For these reasons, DESE is exploring what curricular materials educators are using and how.  They are curious to know how decisions about curricular materials are being made.  Their ultimate goals are to support local decision making with information and guidance as well as encourage collaboration among teachers, schools and districts.  DESE is seeking information from YOU.  Please help by completing the following information form.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Join Our Standards Based Learning Math Chat on December 20th!

Curious about the 2017 Mathematics Curriculum Framework? Need new ideas about how to incorporate the SMPs? Want a place to share some of your most impactful resources? Come join us for our first ever DESE sponsored #SBLchatMA math chat!  The chat will take place on Twitter from 8-9pm on 12/20/17.  Any questions?  Feel free to email me at: 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Math and Science Ambassadors RFR is posted on COMMBUYS

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is looking for a vendor to establish and support a Mathematics and Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Ambassador program.  The assistance includes support in vetting and hiring Mathematics and STE Ambassadors, securing space for the Mathematics and STE Ambassadors training meetings, monitoring district meetings, supporting the Mathematics and STE Ambassadors in evaluating and disseminating the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th grade mathematics tasks, middle school and high school STE tasks, and collecting feedback on the overall initiative.

We're very excited to launch this project!  If you or someone who know is interested in bidding, please check out the bid solicitation

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New ESE Math Networks

ESE welcomes educators from across the state to join our 2017–2018 mathematics, literacy, and science educator networks. These networks are designed to drive implementation of the 2017 Massachusetts Mathematics and ELA/Literacy Frameworks and the 2016 Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Framework. We are calling on classroom leaders, school leaders, and district leaders to partner across districts to learn, to test and refine tools and strategies, and to innovate.  

The following is a list of all of the new math networks being offered:

 Early Numeracy Network (Pre-K–3):
 Steppingstones to Addition and Subtraction

Who should attend:
Math curriculum directors, coaches, and lead pre-K–3 teachers

Locations and dates: 
Group 1: Holyoke (10/10, 11/16, 1/19, 3/23)
Group 2: Upton (10/13, 11/13, 1/17, 3/9)
Group 3: Woburn (10/12, 11/15, 1/18, 3/27)


Ian Stith,

The effective integration of Mathematical Practices (MPs) into elementary instruction promotes a deep and flexible understanding of mathematics and better supports a wide range of students to develop mathematical expertise. This network focuses on key connections between the MP Standards and the Content Standards that define what students should know and be able to do. Specifically, the network aims to amplify opportunities for pre-K–3 students to develop mathematical practices 2 and 7 as they add, subtract, and multiply. It challenges district math leaders, coaches, and lead teachers to expand the problem types their students encounter, and to establish mathematical practice routines that develop students’ abilities to reason across diverse problem situations. The network aims to launch common routines across pre-K–3 that focus on contextualizing and decontextualizing problem situations (MP2) and making use of structure (MP7).  

 Middle Grades Math Network (grades 4–7):
 Proportional Reasoning: The Bridge from Fractions to Ratios

Who should attend:
District teams of 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th grade teachers (including EL and special education teachers)

Locations and dates:
Group 1: Holyoke (10/26, 12/13, 2/2, 3/8)
Group 2: Fitchburg (10/24, 12/5, 1/30, 3/6)
Group 3: Bridgewater (10/25, 12/6, 1/31, 3/13)
All groups: Statewide convening (6/5)


Melinda Griffin,
Leah Tuckman,

The content of middle grades math marks a significant shift from arithmetic concepts (whole number and fractional operations) to algebraic concepts (ratios, rates of change, proportions). The 2017 Mathematics Framework includes new clarifications for the vertical progression of fraction concepts in grades 4–5 to proportional reasoning concepts in grades 67. This network brings together 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th grade teachers to create, test, and refine standards-aligned tasks that illuminate this vertical learning progression. These tasks will also feature varied opportunities for students to demonstrate the three key elements of mathematical rigor: procedural fluency, conceptual understanding, and authentic application. Network members will apply tools and strategies from cross-district regional sessions to create task progressions within their in-district working groups. These tasks and student work samples will be shared statewide.

 Secondary Math Network (grades 6–12):
 Access Math: Building middle/high coursework pathways for the future

Who should attend:
District teams, ideally composed of math curriculum director and/or department heads, principal and/or assistant principal, and guidance counselor(s)

Location and dates:
Marlborough (9/27, 11/8, 1/3, 2/27 


Connie Varoudakis,

The 2017 Mathematics Framework provides an opportunity for districts to revisit and plan course sequences in middle and high school mathematics that encourage ALL students to persist in their mathematical studies. This network brings together math instructional leaders (department leaders, school administrators, and district math leaders) to share current thinking and best practices for grade/course pathways for grades 612. The network aims to develop grade/course progressions that are coherent and transparent; that include multiple “on-ramps” to promote equitable enrollment; and that map forward to career pathways and opportunities. The network also aims to foster systems of support to promote opportunities for more students to access accelerated coursework. Network members will have the opportunity to work across districts to identify the indicators they use to evaluate the effectiveness of their math programming; to define problems of practice; and to adapt or create course pathways and support strategies.

Urban Mathematics Leaders Network
Advancing Access for English Learners

Who should attend:
Urban math leaders

Location and dates:
Marlborough (10/11, 1/10, 3/15, 5/31)


Meto Raha,

For 20172018, the ongoing urban mathematics leaders (UML) network will focus on advancing access for English learners (ELs). Specifically, network members will work collaboratively to develop, test, and refine diagnostics to accurately assess the mathematical abilities of new EL students at different grade levels.

*The first meeting of this network will share linked tasks from UML’s 20162017 proportional reasoning progression project. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

New "What to Look For" Observation Guides

ESE, in partnership with educators in the field, has developed a suite of straightforward observation guides to provide insight into what should be happening in particular content-area classrooms.  All guides have been updated and new grade levels have been added!

These "What to Look For" guides describe what observers should expect to see in a classroom at a particular grade level in a specific subject area. This includes the knowledge and skills students should be learning and using (as reflected in state learning standards) on the front page and examples of student and teacher behaviors aligned to the Standards of Effective Practice used in the state evaluation framework on the back page.

The observation guides are particularly useful to observers who may not have the subject matter experience to know what to look for in classrooms outside of their personal background. The "What to Look For" guides are resources to help educators efficiently identify what teachers and students should be experiencing in specific subjects and grade levels.

Enjoy the new resource and let us know what you think! Please send any and all comments to

Thursday, July 27, 2017

ESE Has Launched New Website!

We are excited to announce that ESE has gone live with its new website at the current address. 

The new site has been designed to allow families, educators, and school administrators to more easily find information and resources about schools and districts, teaching and learning, and education policy.
The new design does not extend to the entire site, but it makes the wealth of information easier to access. It also incorporates an updated search function, Google language translation, and is responsive to handheld devices.
All the content on the legacy site is available through the new design. To help find the information you're looking for, we recommend selecting pages from your existing bookmarks or using:
  • the A-Z Site Index in the website footer
  • the updated search function

We'd like to get your feedback on the design and functionality of the new website. Please email issues and concerns that are technical in nature to For general comments, please email Jass Stewart at

Monday, July 3, 2017

2017 Curriculum Frameworks Now Available!

We are excited to announce that the 2017 curriculum frameworks for English Language Arts and Literacy and for Mathematics are now available in their final form! They have not changed substantively since the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted them in March - they were proofread for typographical errors, copy edited for clarity and consistency, and reformatted to make them as easy to read as possible.

Each framework is accompanied by a document highlighting the more substantive differences between the 2011 and 2017 standards. We will release additional resources to support implementation throughout the upcoming academic year.

The frameworks are designed to be used easily on computer screens; for pricing of printed copies, please contact the state bookstore.

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