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Showing posts from December, 2016

ESSA: Updates from DESE

Included at the Board's regular meeting this month, was a summary of the Department's stakeholder outreach(1) from 5 Community Forums and the impact of ESSA's(2) final accountability regulations issued by the US Department of Education (US/ED) this past November.

DESE sought feedback from a broad spectrum of stakeholders on a number of ESSA-related areas. Their preliminary analysis of more than 1,500 ideas for accountability indicators appears to (somewhat) edit and reorganize the previous list the Board received at the September Board meeting. At Community Forums, DESE received feedback* to build on:


Modifications to the accountability systemBroad support for accountability metrics that:Measure school climateEnsure students participate in a high quality, well-rounded curriculumProgramming to provide safe and supportive schools and well-rounded programs of studyBroad support for programs that:Provide students with social/emotional/behavioral supportsProvide educators with sk…

O Schlussel Davids

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O Key of David: Come break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.

Isaiah 22:22 Jeremiah 13:13 Jeremiah 51:19 Matthew 4:16 Matthew 16:19 Luke 1:79 Revelation 3:7

O Antiphons

Ancient monastics marked the final week of Advent (December 17-23) with a series of traditional antiphons chanted or recited during Vespers, the Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. Referred to as the "O Antiphons", or "The Great Os", each begins with the salutation, "O", followed by a biblical name, and closes with a specific petition for the day.

Growing up, I'd heard the traditional Gregorian chants sung by the religious sisters at the convent of St Ann, one of two convents in our rural mountain town, now both closed (also where I and two of my siblings attended kindergarten). Now, I'm drawn to Arvo Pärt's settings of "Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen", as sung by the Taverner Choir. Even amid the frenzy and hubbub of holiday shopping and celebrating, or perhaps because of it, I find them particularly resonant, falling as they do on the darkest days on either side of winter solstice. Pärt's modern settings are like illuminat…

O Spross aus Isais Wurzel

O Flower of Jesse's Stem: Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.


Isaiah 11:1-10 Isaiah 52:15 Romans 15:12

O Adonai

O Sacred Lord of Ancient Israel: Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set your people free.

Exodus 3:2 Isaiah 33:22 Isaiah 63:11-12 Micah 6:4 Acts 7:30-31

O Weisheit*

O Wisdom: Come and show your people the way to wisdom and understanding.


Wisdom 8:1 Isaiah 11:2-3 Isaiah 28:29 Proverbs 8:1-36 John 1:1-5

This post has been edited: a technical glitch prevented the video from uploading, initially, and was thus omitted.

How can being bilingual be an asset for white students and a deficit for immigrants?*

With one tweet, I was linked to perhaps the most on-point question of our time and to information about a dual-language program right here in Massachusetts, in the Mendon-Upton Regional School District:

Attn: @marcela_elisa@SoniaChangDiaz@MAStewartMA#MAEduhttps://t.co/iHYdrFxmJ5 — Tracy Novick (@TracyNovick) November 14, 2016
The link embedded above in Tracy's tweet will still take you to The Hechinger Report article. The Mendon-Upton program (and another one highlighted, from Texas) aims to make all students in the class fully bilingual. The article points out that the Texas program would be illegal in Massachusetts. And, while bilingual education programs aren't part of the ELL construct in the Commonwealth, such strength-based approaches guarantee students who are Limited English Proficient (LEP) access to educational opportunities. These programs allow students to acquire a full command of the English language and employ their native languages to help them master challengi…

Notes from DissemiNATION Fair

DissemiNATION Fair was offered by DESE's Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign a couple of weeks ago. Held in Devens, it was a major event, two years in the making, built on feedback and input from people in the field (both charters and public schools), as to what to offer in the way of sharing best practices from all types of public schools across the Commonwealth. Based on conversations I had with participants, and my observations and experience within panel sessions, I found this to be an energetic networking and high-quality, well-attended professional development event.

Presentations were relevant, engaging, and of high quality. Panel Session presenters were seated at long tables on a dais in the ballroom. I was struck by their non-jargon-y command of presentation material, enthusiasm to share their expertise, and professionalism overall. The format greatly contributed to this and to the elimination of perceived or real contentiousness or defensiveness that can be evi…

FY18: BESE Budget Committee Recommendations*

The Board unanimously approved the following Budget Committee Recommendations at its Regular Meeting Tuesday, November 29, 2016. The budget that the Board approved has been sent by Memo to the Secretary of Education; work is underway to develop the Governor's House 1 recommendations, to be announced in January.

Education Aid Accounts
The Board recommends the Department's education aid accounts be funded at the highest level possible based on available revenues for FY18. The major focus for increase should be the Chapter 70 -- Education Aid and Special Education Circuit Breaker accounts. The Board recommends that any additional funding made available in Ch. 70 after the state's contribution to foundation aid is met, be directed to districts with identified achievement gaps in student learning to support reforms that have evidence of narrowing achievement gaps. The Board recommends the Commissioner work with the Secretary to review other Chapter 70 increase factors including …

Board's Budget Subcommittee

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education exists, primarily, to administer state and federal education laws, of which the State's Education Budget is a part. And, while the education budget is a line item within the State's total budget allocation (as is a local education budget within a Municipality's budget), the appointed State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education exercises no budgetary authority (which is unlike locally elected School Committees who have actual budget oversight); BESE maintains policy and regulatory oversight.

Of the ~$5.2B allocated to DESE in FY17, only a tiny amount is actually discretionary: ~91% passes directly through DESE and goes to local districts in the form of Chapter 70 funding~5% is for federal entitlement programs (IDEA, Nutrition, Perkins, Titles I, II, etc.)Of the remaining ~4%:~3.9% is discretionary for the purpose of assigning FTEs to new programming (Civics Education, e.g.)less than 0.001% goes to the Department'…