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

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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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Today, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education will hold a hearing for early education and care bills filed in the 2017-2018 session. Strategies for Children (SFC) urges the committee to report favorably on An Act Ensuring High-Quality Early Education H.2874 and S.240, lead sponsors: Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett).

 

The problem:

Massachusetts has a significant and persistent achievement gap that’s evident long before children enter school. Too many children show up for school already behind, and too many of them will never catch up. It’s time to level the playing field for Massachusetts children. The state could and should do more to invest in young children’s early learning.

Experts agree that high-quality preschool has a short- and long-term impact on young children’s educational, social and health outcomes. Preventing problems now, rather than remediating them later, is a cost-effective investment that benefits children and taxpayers alike.

High-quality preschool helps establish a strong foundation for children’s learning in K-12, but currently an estimated 40% of the commonwealth’s 3- and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in any formal preschool program. (more…)

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Matt Deninger speaks about the Every Student Succeeds Act. Photo: Amy O’Leary for Strategies for Children

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is in the news, and education officials are seeking public comments on how this law should be implemented.

On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Strategies for Children convened a group of early childhood practitioners, advocates, and policy makers to discuss ESSA. Matthew Deninger from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was on hand to provide background on the law. He shared details about the evolving Massachusetts plan and spoke about opportunities to support the birth-through-grade-three continuum in the state plan and in local district plans.

Several themes emerged from this discussion:  (more…)

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Foreground: Representative Claire Cronin (D-Plymouth) speaking to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Background: TeeAra Dias, Preschool Expansion Grant Project Manager, Boston Public Schools.

Foreground: Representative Claire Cronin (D-Plymouth) speaking to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Background: TeeAra Dias, Preschool Expansion Grant Project Manager, Boston Public Schools.

 

“We now know there are more kids in more programs, but clearly not enough, clearly not enough,” Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, told the 100 participants at a meeting that was held last month in downtown Boston for the community teams from across Massachusetts that are focused on expanding preschool opportunities for children and families.

We’re including audio clips and photos from the event in this blog post.

 

Strategies for Children’s Amy O’Leary presents a brief history of state policy for early education and care.

 

Each team had received either federal Preschool Expansion Grant funds to add high-quality preschool seats (5 communities); state-funded preschool planning grants (13 communities); or both. Combined, these communities are Athol, Boston, Brockton, Cape Cod, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Trainers are available to teach courses on the pre-K and kindergarten social and emotional standards.

The trainers are available to schools and districts. They “present the state’s newly-developed, 10-hour, six-module introductory course on the Massachusetts Preschool and Kindergarten Social and Emotional Learning and Approaches to Play and Learning standards.” according to the Department of Secondary and Elementary Education (DESE). “To receive a list of available trainers, email Jane Haltiwanger at jhaltiwanger@doe.mass.edu.”

“The course is designed to familiarize participants with the standards and includes sections on orienting participants to the standards and on social and emotional learning curriculum and instruction, assessment, family engagement, and the administrative role in supporting social and emotional learning and approaches to play and learning.” (more…)

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