Friday, December 15, 2017

School and District Profiles: Feedback Requested

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to redesign its public School and District profiles website.  As part of this redesign, DESE requests that users provide feedback on the current website in terms of organization, ease of use, available information, and additional information that would prove helpful to users.  An online survey is currently available to collect feedback.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Upcoming 2018 MCAS Training Sessions

The list of MCAS training sessions for 2018 is now available on the Training Opportunities web page. The upcoming sessions are listed in “Other Upcoming Training Sessions,” the second table on the page; once registrations become available, the sessions will move to the table at the top of the page. All sessions will be recorded, and the recordings and slides will be available at the MCAS Resource Center approximately one week after each session is offered.

For the first time, the Department is offering a session on MCAS accessibility and accommodations for grades 3–8 and high schools. Also, information about high school field tests and question tryouts will be presented in various sessions described in the table. In 2018, the Department will not hold face-to-face sessions as it has done in the past so schools can participate in shorter remote sessions on focused topics instead. The Department may hold face-to-face sessions again in 2019.

In addition to the training sessions, online training modules are being posted on the MCAS Resource Center as they become available. The list of modules is available on the Training Opportunities web page.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

PISA: Programme for International Student Assessment

Every three years since 2000, the United States has been one of the approximately 70 countries participating in the Programme for International Student Assessment, known more commonly as PISA. During each nationwide PISA administration, portions of several Massachusetts schools were designated to participate as part of the U.S. sample. In 2012 and 2015, in addition to having several schools selected to represent the U.S., Massachusetts elected to participate in PISA as its own "nation." In order to provide Massachusetts-specific data, 50 additional schools were sampled, and close to 2,000 students participated.

Massachusetts has decided not to participate as its own nation in PISA's 2018 administration. However, several schools will still be selected in Massachusetts as part of the U.S. sample, with administration taking place in fall 2018. In addition, some schools and districts in Massachusetts have decided to participate in the PISA-based Test for Schools, a set of assessments and surveys adopted at the local level; participation in that program is not affected by the state's decision not to participate as a nation in 2018.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

2017-18 MCAS Testing Schedule

The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has released an initial testing schedule for the administration of the 2017-18 grade 10 legacy MCAS, and the grade 3-8 Next Generation MCAS.  Grade 4, 5, 7 and 8 assessments will be administered online in ELA, math and science.  Grade 3 and 6 assessments can be administered online or paper-based.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Success in High School: A Data Story

Recently the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has released The ABCs of Success in High School in Beyond.  This data story is intended for parents, community members, and educators to better understand how specific factors, like attendance and behavior, contribute to a student's success beyond high school.

The tool goes beyond the research to suggest next steps for educators and parents, and allows a detailed look at one's own district.

Monday, November 20, 2017

High School MCAS Field Tests

In Spring 2018, high schools will participate in a computer-based field test in ELA or math.  For more information please see the "June on the desktop message".  Additionally, schools are needed to participate in the biology or introductory physics online field test.
The purpose of the field tests and question tryouts is three-fold:
1.      to try out test questions, including new technology-enhanced questions, that will be used on the next-generation assessments;
2.      to help high schools prepare for next-generation computer-based assessments prior to an operational administration; and
3.      to develop next-generation practice tests and resources that schools and districts can use during the 2018–19 school year.

Accordingly, no student, school, or district results will be generated from the field tests or the question tryouts.

Questions about technology may be directed to the Office of Digital Learning at, and questions about the field tests and question tryouts may be directed to the Office of Student Assessment Services at

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Policy Brief: Teacher Equity Gaps in Massachusetts

Last month, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released a policy brief focused on Teacher Equity Gaps in MA.  We know that a teachers' efficacy impacts student learning, but by how much?  And what does this mean for student assignment for specific subgroups?  The policy brief provides a look at the research from across the state, as well as how effective teachers were identified in the study, and further begins to answer some of these questions.  Some of the key findings from the study are highlighted below:

  • Three-quarters of the teacher equity gap for low income students is explained by the fact that low income students are disproportionately enrolled in districts with lower average teacher effectiveness.
  • Low income students in Massachusetts are 31% more likely to be assigned teachers with less than 3 years of experience.
  • Compared to the average MA teacher, the teacher in the 75th percentile teacher improves the achievement of their students by 13-15 weeks of learning.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

MCAS Released Items Now Available

Released items from the spring 2017 MCAS tests can be found on the Department’s website, along with item descriptions for each test item, sample student work, and scoring guides.  Schools that took CBT in spring 2017 may wish to view released items from the grades 3–8 spring 2017 ELA and Mathematics tests in practice test format on the MCAS Resource Center.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

2017 MCAS Parent Resources Available

Last week, ESE released official results of the 2017 MCAS assessment in Edwin, dropbox, and on the School and District Profiles website.  In conjunction with the release of the next-generation MCAS scores, ESE has also made many resources available on the MCAS parent page (, including a letter to parents about the next-generation MCAS scores in both English and Spanish and an interactive parent guide.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Student Learning Experience Reports

This year, districts have access to a new report in Edwin.  The Student Learning Experience report provides information on a students' learning experience, over one year or five years.  This report looks at the experience of students in terms of the assignment of their teachers.  This report can help inform conversations about teacher assignment to specific students or subgroups of students, and support discussions about the inequity of educational experience among certain subgroups.  This report is accessible in Edwin.  Tutorial videos on the Student Learning Experience report can be found here.

Monday, October 9, 2017

MCAS Update: Transition to Computer-Based Testing for Grades 4, 5, 7 & 8

Continued Transition to Computer-Based Testing

The transition to full computer-based testing will continue in spring 2018, with the expectation that all schools will administer the following tests using the computer-based format:
  • Grade 4 ELA and Mathematics
  • Grade 5 ELA, Mathematics, and legacy Science and Technology/Engineering (STE)
  • Grade 7 ELA and Mathematics
  • Grade 8 ELA, Mathematics, and legacy STE
For grades 3 and 6, schools may elect to administer either the computer-based or paper-based tests in spring 2018.

Paper-based tests will always be available as an accommodation if required by a student's individualized education program (IEP) and as needed for the small number of students who do not have IEPs but who are unable to take a computer-based test for other reasons. Similar to the 2016-2017 school year, this fall districts will have an opportunity to apply for a waiver from computer-based testing for one or more of their schools, provided the school is making a good-faith effort to comply and has a plan for transitioning to full computer-based testing in spring 2019.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Upcoming Reporting Session for Grades 3–8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Results

The Department will host a reporting session on October 16 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. to help school and district leaders understand the changes to the MCAS program and prepare for the official release of the MCAS results.

The presentation will cover general information about the 2017 MCAS results, including an orientation to the new scales and achievement levels, the standard-setting process, and the new parent/guardian reports that will debut this year. 

The session will be recorded and available online a few days after the conclusion of the session and will be emailed directly to registrants within 24 hours.  Registration for the session is currently open.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Schedule for Releasing Results from the 2017 MCAS Tests

The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to publicly release official MCAS results the week of October 17. This will include school, district, and state MCAS scores as well as grade 10 accountability results. Printed Parent/Guardian Reports will arrive in district offices on October 24. The Board will receive a full briefing on the results at the October Board meeting.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

College & Career Readiness Data Tools

School and District Profiles and Edwin reports are home to a wealth of data resources, including College and Career Readiness data.  To learn how to access and use these tools, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has developed five short videos to help educators understand students' college and career readiness.  These tools can be found on the Department's College and Career Readiness website.

Monday, September 11, 2017

New ESE Science Networks

Science and Technology/Engineering Networks
Elementary Science Networks
Time on Science: Creating Robust Elementary Science Programs

Who should attend:
Registration for this network is closed for 2017–2018. ESE plans to expand these networks in 20182019. Look for new principal network openings in spring 2018.

Location and dates:
Worcester (9/29, 12/1, 3/16, 6/1)  


Nicole Scola,

The 2016 Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Framework presents grade-by-grade standards for elementary school that include all STE disciplines tied together by a grade-level theme. This specificity fosters new opportunities for elementary school principals to push for more time on science in their pre-K–5 classrooms. The STE Framework emphasizes that many instructional models can effectively engage students in STE learning, and that STE instruction may be a dedicated time in the school schedule or integrated with instruction of other subjects. This network brings together principals from across the state to develop customized strategic plans for STE in their schools. Principals will work cross-district to develop and promote a vision for their science programs, instructional models and school-wide science instructional practices, high-quality assessment tasks, and professional learning opportunities for teachers.

Middle Grades Science Networks
Aligning STE Assessments to the Middle Grades STE Standards

Who should attend:
STE curriculum directors, department heads and/or lead teachers for grades 5–8

Locations and dates:
Group 1: Northampton (10/27, 1/30)
Group 2: Worcester (10/25, 1/23)  
Group 3: Boston (10/26, 1/25) 

*Each group will participate in a virtual meeting between the two meetings and a culminating virtual meeting in the spring.


Craig Waterman, 

The 2016 Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Framework presents grade-by-grade performance standards that state what middle school (grades 68) students should be able to do as a result of instruction. This network aims to develop highly effective assessment tasks to measure student mastery of these standards, both the disciplinary core ideas and the STE practices. Network members will use ESE’s Assessment Literacy Continuum tool to evaluate sample tasks and to create and critique their own assessment tasks for middle grades performance standards.  


Urban Science Leaders Network
Developing Authentic STE Assessments K–12

Who should attend:
Urban science leaders

Location and dates:
Marlborough (10/5, 11/14, 1/24, 2/8, 4/10, 6/13)


Marianne Dunne,

For 20172018, the ongoing Urban Science Leaders network will focus on developing and curating highly effective K12 assessment tasks that measure mastery of both disciplinary core ideas and science and engineering practices. The network will operate as smaller working groups focused on tasks that link to specific domains, STE practices, cross-cutting concepts, and grade bands. Network members will use these assessments within their districts to catalyze highly effective instruction that deeply engages students at all levels with the 2016 STE Framework’s performance standards.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

New interactive parent guide to the next-generation MCAS

The Department has an interactive next-generation MCAS guide that provides helpful tips for parents on:
  • how test results are used to support teaching and learning
  • the ways the next-generation MCAS test better measures the critical skills students need for success in the 21st century
  • the new scoring categories, and
  • how to seek support for their child. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Updated EWIS Website Now Available

The EWIS website has been updated to allow for greater usability and access to resources. The site now includes an on-demand e-learning module, a step-by-step guide to the Early Warning Implementation Cycle, and tools and examples from the field. This module may be useful for educators to use alone, to enhance their knowledge of EWIS, or with their professional learning communities.

Additionally, the EWIS team will be holding a full day workshop on September 18th on Maximizing EWIS to Improve Student Achievement

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

EWIS Workshop- September 18th

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is offering a no-cost, full-day workshop, "Maximizing EWIS to Improve Student Achievement", on September 18, 2017. Leaders, data specialists, counselors, and/or program specialists may register as a teamif possible to get the full impact of the sessions. For more information, email

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS) Reports coming to Edwin

This week, EWIS reports for the 2017-18 school year will be available in Edwin. This year, districts will have access to two new Postsecondary EWIS reports. These are useful in understanding students' college-going risk and planning student-centered supports. Training material, videos and other resources are available on the EWIS website. For districts that did not report data by the due dates, EWIS data will be available in mid-September.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New ESE Literacy Networks

Literacy Networks
Early Grades Literacy Grant (Pre-K–3):
Promoting Integrated Pre-K–3 Literacy Learning Across Strands and Content Areas
REGISTRATION: apply for the grant at

Districts participating in ESE’s Early Grades Literacy Grant (fund code 734) comprise a statewide network and set of regional networks focused on literacy instruction in grades pre-K–3.

For more information about this competitive grant opportunity, contact Lauren McBride ( or Tracey Martineau (

The Early Grades Literacy Grant challenges early grade literacy educators to promote integration across the reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language strands of the ELA/Literacy Framework and across content areas. Through a series of professional learning opportunities at the state, regional, and school levels, network members will develop, test, and refine ambitious tasks, lessons, and units that provide students with opportunities to read, write, think, and talk about what they are learning. Districts join the network through a competitive grant process that offers two different levels of participation: all members attend statewide literacy institutes and follow-up regional meetings, and some members receive additional school-based support. 

Middle and Secondary Literacy Network (grades 4–12):
Promoting Integrated Literacy Learning in Grades 412

Who should attend:
District literacy teams that include at least one district literacy leader and a team of grades 412 lead teachers who will lead colleagues in developing and refining literacy lessons that strategically integrate ELA/literacy strands

Locations and dates:
Group 1: Holyoke (9/26, 11/28, 1/16, 3/6)
Group 2: Bridgewater (10/3, 11/30, 1/23, 3/13)

*meeting space will be available until 3:00pm for facilitated planning and networking

Susan Kazeroid,
Helene Levine,
Tracey Martineau,

The 2017 English Language Arts and Literacy Framework emphasizes an integrated model of literacy in which the strands of reading (R), writing (W), speaking and listening (SL), and language (L) are closely connected. The new Framework includes cross-references among these four strands, and numerous examples that demonstrate how R/W/SL/L standards may be combined for effective instruction. This network focuses on what standards-based literacy instruction looks and sounds like when students are engaged in learning across all strands. The network engages district literacy teams (literacy leader, coach, and/or teachers) in the development, testing, and refinement of integrated literacy lessons that strategically link standards-based student discourse to standards-based reading and/or writing objectives. The goal of the network is to build the capacity of district literacy teams to promote integrated literacy instruction within their schools.

Secondary Literacy Network (grades 9–12):
Promoting Variety and Flexibility in Student Writing  

Who should attend:
District teams, ideally composed of ELA/literacy curriculum director and/or department heads; high school teachers  

Locations and dates:
Fitchburg (10/13, 11/13, 1/10, 3/20)


Lauren McBride,

The 2017 English Language Arts and Literacy Framework emphasizes flexibility and variety in student writing. This network for high school literacy leaders aims to expand the kinds of writing high school students do. The network challenges school leaders to assess their schools' current writing landscapes and develop plans for diversifying their schools' writing tasks. Network members will evaluate and generate writing tasks that vary across and within writing types. Network members will begin by focusing solely on writing tasks within ELA/humanities courses, and then have the option to look more broadly at writing tasks across content areas.

Urban Literacy Leaders Network:
Designing Complex Literacy Tasks

Who should attend:
Urban literacy leaders

Location and dates:
Devens (10/19, 12/14, 2/7, 4/12, 6/6)


Helene Levine,

In 2017–18, the ongoing Urban Literacy Leaders Network will focus on supports for educators to design and implement complex and engaging student tasks/assignments. The Network will use the Four Domains of the Literacy Assignment Analysis Framework and corresponding indicators created by The Education Trust to guide its work throughout the year. In the first meeting, participants will be introduced to the framework. Each subsequent meeting will focus on one of the four domains of the framework: (1) alignment to standards, (2) centrality of texts, (3) cognitive challenge, and (4) motivation and engagement. Participants will collaboratively review tasks/assignments and samples of student work in an effort to develop new strategies for improving the quality of instruction in their districts.