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Archive for the ‘Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education’ Category

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

 

In Massachusetts, there’s a new state law on the books – the Student Opportunity Act. It calls on school districts to close the achievement gap by investing historic new state funding for education ($1.5 billion over seven years) in proven solutions.

One solution that districts can choose: high-quality early education and care.

Districts have until April 1, 2020, to develop and submit their plans for closing the gap to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley explained last fall that school superintendents have to work with school committees to develop:

“…a three-year, evidence-based plan to address persistent disparities in achievement among student subgroups. In developing its plan, each district must consider input and recommendations from parents and other community stakeholders, including special education and English learner parent advisory councils, school improvement councils, and educators.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Next month, the Departments of Early Education and Care and Elementary and Secondary Education are sponsoring a free conference called, “Building Inclusive Communities in Early Childhood.”

The conference will be held on Friday, March 15, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (check-in starts at 8:30 a.m.) at the Devens Common Center in Devens, Mass. Click here to register.

“Inclusion in early childhood programs refers to including children with disabilities in early childhood programs, together with their peers without disabilities,” according to a 2015 joint statement from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.

These children often “face significant barriers to accessing inclusive high-quality early childhood programs…” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

This year’s MCAS test results have been released.

And while this assessment of Massachusetts students is 25 years old, this year’s results are part of a “new generation” of testing that’s designed “to measure how a school or district is doing and what kind of support it may need,” according to a press release from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

The next-generation MCAS “is more comprehensive than the previous system and complies with the 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act.” This is the second year that the new MCAS has been administered, so this year’s results can only be compared to last year’s – and not to earlier years.

Students’ test scores are sorted into one of four assessment categories:

• exceeding expectations

• meeting expectations

• partially meeting expectations, and

• not meeting expectations

The year’s results are similar to last year’s, the press release notes. In English and math, “approximately 50 percent of the students who took the test scored Meeting Expectations or above.” (more…)

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JD Chesloff

We caught up with JD Chesloff, who just completed a 10-year term on the Board of Early Education and Care (EEC), and asked him about what he’s seen over the last decade.

As readers of this blog know, JD’s career includes working at Strategies for Children and in the State House. He was also chair of EEC’s Board, and he is currently the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable.

What has he seen as an EEC board member?

“The organization has matured over the last 10 years. It started out as a fledgling idea of having all of the early childhood activity in one place.”

“It’s grown up over that time and now it’s a clearly equal member at the education table with K-12 and higher education.”

JD praises the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and its focus on ensuring that children and families have access to high-quality programs. The department has also wrestled with serving all children, making universal access part of its vision in a 5-Year Strategic Plan.

What was the most personally satisfying part of JD’s time on the Board? (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Yesterday, Massachusetts officials released the results of the new MCAS, “an updated version of the test that was given for the first time in spring 2017 to students in grades 3-8 in English language arts and mathematics,” according to a press release.

The results show some good news. But the new test also reveals how much work Massachusetts still has to do to help all of its students succeed.

The new version of the MCAS “was created with input from hundreds of teachers following a thorough review and update of the state’s curriculum frameworks. The next-generation MCAS establishes high expectations to better reflect whether students are on track for the next grade level and ultimately for college and a career.”

“In general, the new standards for Meeting Expectations are more rigorous than the standards for reaching the Proficient level on the legacy MCAS.”

“Spring 2017 is a baseline year for a new test in grades 3-8, and spring 2017 scores should not be compared to previous years’ scores.” (more…)

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Foreground: Representative Claire Cronin (D-Plymouth) speaking to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

We are very sad to hear that Mitchell Chester, commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, passed away on Monday. He was committed to improving education across the commonwealth.

“Commissioner Chester’s leadership improved the lives of thousands of students & helped make MA’s public school system a national leader,” Governor Baker said on Twitter.

Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser said, “He was a thoughtful leader. He loved the job he did. He cared deeply about all the children in the state,” the Boston Globe reports.

We are thinking of Commissioner Chester and his family, and we are grateful for his leadership.

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A guest post by Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children

Jason Sachs and Chris Martes testifying at the State House

Tuesday was a sunny June day, so you may have missed the State House hearing on a range of early education and care bills.

Amy O’Leary and I — along with our colleagues from cities and towns and other organizations — testified in support of “An Act ensuring high quality early education,” H.2874 filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and S.240 filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett).

We shared our goals with the Joint Committee on Education, chaired by Representative Peisch and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain).

Budgetwise, it’s a tough time to ask for more funding. Massachusetts’ revenue forecast can best be described as partly sunny with a chance of car-denting hail. Look for “modest growth” of 3.9 percent.

Fortunately, our bill is an ideal fit for these economic times. (more…)

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