Monday, March 28, 2016

Data Practices of Turnaround Schools

In reviewing what made MA schools effective in exiting Level 4 and achieving high rates of school improvement, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education observed the following key areas in their school-wide data practices, available in their Turnaround Practices in Action report:

  1. Ongoing systems to establish, monitor, and improve instructional quality among all teachers and classrooms.
    • The school's ILT monitored progress and held the authority to make decisions
    • School leaders and teachers reviewed student achievement data and continually assessed progress toward established goals
    • Additional time was allotted to the observation of classroom instruction and teachers were provided with constructive feedback
    • Student performance was frequently monitored and used to inform instructional responses and interventions
    • Teachers used a variety of assessment tools and data to monitor student progress                 
  2. A culture of accelerated improvement:
    • Goals were set in key improvement areas for both the school (e.g. behavior, culture, school climate) and classroom (e.g. instructional expectations, student achievement)
    • Progress toward these goals was actively measured and monitored. 
    • Teachers and leaders reflected upon their work toward these goals and real-time changes were made to continue progress toward desired outcomes
    • Professional development focused on a few instructional priorities, aligned with the school's overall goals, and was follow up on throughout the year

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Building the Partnership Resource Center with PARCC

Over three weekends, educators, developers, and designers will join forces and use their powers for good to brainstorm and build future-focused, sustainable assessment tools in an open-source platform. These tools will become part of the PRC and will help teachers successfully prepare students of today for the challenges and opportunities they will face tomorrow.

To learn more about the PARCC code-a-thon or RSVP, click here.

Monday, March 7, 2016

MCAS 2.0 Website

The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is currently updating the MCAS assessment to better assess critical thinking skills students need to be successful in the 21st century. To stay abreast of MCAS 2.0 developments, as well as provide your feedback on the new assessment, visit the MCAS 2.0 website.

The development of MCAS 2.0 will focus on:
  • Combining PARCC, MCAS, and newly developed items into new ELA and math tests
  • Creating stronger alignment to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks
    • Introducing writing in response to text at all grades
    • Developing and implementing new types of items that more deeply assess the standards
    • Assessing Massachusetts-specific standards
  • Developing a consistent set of performance standards across all grades
  • Phasing in computer-based testing
  • Developing an appropriate sequence of tests for high school to gauge college and career readiness
  • Setting standards for the 10th grade Competency Determination (CD) tests in English language arts and math, beginning with the class of 2020, to provide reliable feedback on whether students are on track for success after high school. (The current MCAS remains a requirement through the class of 2019.)
Massachusetts will maintain control over assessment planning and decision-making related to test design and development, standard setting, policies for students with disabilities and English language learners, turnaround time for reporting test scores, and item release policies.
And with all state-level test development, local educators will remain involved and strongly invested in the processes of creating and reviewing MCAS 2.0 test questions and items.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Digital Equity Summit: Strategic Planning to Close the Digital Dive at Home for Low-Income Children and Families

The ESE Office of Digital Learning (ODL) is hosting a Digital Equity Summit: Strategic Planning to Close the Digital Divide at Home for Low-income Children and Families on Friday, March 18th at UMASS-Boston. Attendance is free. The ODL is particularly encouraging districts in communities whose rates of residential broadband access are below the state average to attend.  

E-rate applications for FY 2016 are now being accepted; the filing window will close April 29th. E-rate is a federal program that provides technology discounts for schools. For more information on this topic view the ODL E-rate website: