Thursday, May 17, 2018

Subject Matter Knoweldge Guidelines Open for Public Comment

DESE is pleased to announce that we have extended the public comment period for feedback on the Subject Matter Knowledge (SMK) Guidelines to Friday, 6/29. DESE is hoping to solicit  additional and diverse stakeholder feedback during this public comment period. 

You will note one change to the SMK Guidelines for Reading Specialist from the previous version that we released for public comment on March 1st. Based on significant feedback (from the March public comment period) on the subject matter knowledge for the Reading Specialist license, we will be reverting to previous SMKs as we reconvene a working group to build out new SMKs in Fall 2018. More information on this working group will be available in early June. 

As previously noted, these Guidelines reflect a significant shift in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's (ESE) approach to outlining content expectations for teachers. The approach emphasizes the importance of aligning the standards for students with expectations for educators. Most notably, for licensure areas in which the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks exist, ESE directly references a corresponding Framework to establish what educators need to demonstrate in content knowledge, rather than provide a separate set of expectations.

The proposed revised Guidelines were informed by the public comment we received during the fall of 2017 on a previous draft, as well as broader efforts to more closely align the training and preparation of our educators with expectations once employed.

The revision of the state's SMK requirements and the development of these Guidelines has been a long-term effort, first initiated in 2015 to align with new Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks in Mathematics; English Language Arts (ELA)/Literacy; and Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) and then further influenced by changes to the Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval in June 2017. During this time, ESE has engaged with numerous stakeholders to inform and shape the SMK requirements through various working groups, surveys, and periods of public comment.

Given that changes to the SMK requirements were initiated in order to better align expectations with the recent revisions to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, the majority of changes reflected in these Guidelines affect licenses for those responsible for teaching those standards. That said, we are committed to this overall approach for all license areas. Through public comment, we hope to gather input on the implications of this approach and insights about timelines that will allow for successful implementation. The public comment received during this period will inform a detailed implementation memo, which will be released along with final Guidelines.

There are some license areas with special circumstances worth noting:

  • Moderate Disabilities and Severe Disabilities: These license areas are partially affected by the alignment of content expectations for teachers with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks in ELA/Literacy, Mathematics, and STE. There are, however, additional subject matter knowledge requirements specific to the content of this discipline that we did not revise as part of this update. ESE is committed to revisiting the unique needs of these licenses and providing updates as appropriate in the future.
  • English as a Second Language, Business, and Library: Subject matter knowledge requirements specific to these content areas were not revised as a part of this update. ESE is committed to revisiting the unique needs of these licenses and providing updates as appropriate in the future.
  • Arts (Dance, Visual Arts, Theater, and Music), Physical Education and Health/Family and Consumer Services and Foreign Languages: The Massachusetts Curriculum Framework associated with these license areas is currently undergoing or is slated for revision in the next two years. As a result, legacy SMK requirements remain in place until the revised or new Framework is adopted.
  • History and Social Science: This Framework is currently out for public comment through April 2, 2018 and is scheduled to go to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) for vote on whether to formally adopt them. Legacy SMK requirements remain in place until the new Framework is adopted.
  • Administrator and Professional Support Personnel licenses: These licenses are not affected by this update.
  • Digital Literacy and Computer Science (DLCS): This is a new license that was approved by the Board in June 2017 based on the development of the DLCS Framework published in June 2016. Until the new Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL) is developed (in 2020), legacy SMK requirements remain in place for the Competency Review. DLCS programs should be designed based on the DLCS Framework as outlined in the Guidelines.

The proposed revised SMK Guidelines are open for public comment through June 29, 2018. To provide public comment, please visit: Public Comment: Subject Matter Knowledge (SMK) Guidelines (May–June 2018).

If you need assistance with the public comment survey or have any questions, please email:

Friday, May 11, 2018

Standards Based Learning Videos Available!

The Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks provide teachers, students and families with clear and shared expectations for what all students should know and be able to do at the end of each year. They represent a promise of equitable education for all students. They formalize the expectation that all students in the Commonwealth have access to the same academic content, regardless of their zip code, background or abilities. 

The Department’s Center for Instructional Support is excited to share a new set of videos presenting standards-based learning in Massachusetts. The videos give an overview of how educators are approaching standards-based learning in different content areas and grades. Districts are encouraged to share the videos with members of their educational community to help communicate what standards look like within instruction and the day to day lives of students. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Public Comment Open on Proposed Amendmens related to the LOOK Act

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is soliciting public comment on proposed amendments that are needed to implement the Language Opportunity for Our Kids (LOOK) Act (Chapter 138 of the Acts of 2017). The proposed amendments are intended to implement the LOOK Act through standards for English learner education programs and the educators who provide them; establish the State Seal of Biliteracy; improve the instruction of English learners in career vocational technical programs through standards for career vocational technical educators; and update certain provisions of the vocational technical regulations relating to licensure.

Copies of the proposed amendments are available on the Department's website or by calling 781-338-3584. Comments on the proposed amendments may be submitted via an online survey, by emailing, by mailing comments to Sibel Hughes, Office of English Language Acquisition and Academic Achievement (OELAAA), Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148; or by fax at (781) 338-3395.

The deadline for submission of public comment is Friday, May 18. The Board is expected to vote on the proposed amendments at its June 26 meeting.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

MCAS Update and Practice Tests Available

MCAS Update: Impact of Severe Weather on This Spring's MCAS Test Schedule
Elementary and middle schools that were impacted by the recent severe weather and school closings may choose to reschedule grades 3-8 tests to be administered later in the testing window. Additional information and guidance on how this winter's severe weather impacts MCAS tests was communicated to superintendents last week.

New ELA and Math Practice Tests are Now Available!
New 2018 Practice Tests are now available for ELA,  math  (grades 3-8), and science/technology/engineering (5 & 8)  on the MCAS Resource Center. You can access these tests in either paper-based on electronic form. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Public Comment Period Open for New WIDA Instructional Framework for the ELD Standards

WIDA needs your input!

In 2019, WIDA will introduce the WIDA Instructional Framework- a standards-based instructional framework that supports educator's efforts to:

  • Equitably engage English language learners (ELLs)
  • Develop short- and long-term instructional plans
  • authentically blend language develop and content learning
  • advocate for the needs of ELLs in response to the increased demands of content standards. 
Currently, WIDA is seeking feedback and input on the draft WIDA Instructional Framework. Here are some ways that YOU can provide feedback:

Here are some suggested actions for you to consider:
  •  Review the discipline and grade-level draft that is most closely tied to your experience (e.g., Grade 1 Social Studies). You only need to review one and it’s better to review one closely than glance at many of them!
  • Complete the input survey at
  • Share WIDA's memo with other colleagues. Consider sending it to curriculum and content standards experts, special education, higher education liaisons, and those who work with district/school leaders, to name a few. 
  • Promote the public input period actively through all your channels and send reminders as the April 20 deadline approaches. 
For more information, please visit the WIDA English Language Development (ELD) Standards page. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Looking to Recognize Some Amazing MA Educators?

Do you know an amazing educator in Massachusetts? DESE is happy to announce three award opportunities for schools and districts to recognize educators for the pivotal role they play in service to students across the Commonwealth. We encourage you to nominate a educator for one of these awards.

The President Award for Excellent in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST)
The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 mathematics and science (including computer science) teaching. Anyone--principals, teachers, parents, students, or members of the general public--may nominate exceptional mathematics or science teachers who are currently teaching grades K–6 for the 2017-2018 award year. Teachers may also apply directly at

The Nomination Deadline is April 1, 2018 and the Application Deadline is May 1, 2018, for elementary school teachers (grades K-6). Secondary school teachers (grades 7-12) will be eligible to apply during a future cycle.

History Teacher of the Year

The History Teacher of the Year award is open to any full-time educator of grades K–12 who teaches American history (including state and local history). American history may be taught as an individual subject or as part of other subjects, such as social studies, reading, or language arts.  Requirements for applying for the award are as follows: 
·         The nominated teacher must have at least three years of classroom teaching experience.      
·         Nominees must be planning to teach for at least one year following the award year.
·         Past state and national winners are not eligible.
·         Self-nominations are not accepted.

The 2018 award will honor exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers. Eligible generalist and specialist teachers in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and US Territories are encouraged to apply.  You can find more information, including the application, at

Distinguished Educator Recognition

The Distinguished Educator Recognition program is looking to recognize secondary educators (grades 6-12) relatively new to the profession who demonstrate unique instructional and leadership ability.  Such educators exemplify teaching at its best and their contributions have a  profound impact on students, colleagues, and the community. Individuals are encouraged to recommend one to three educators who have not received major recognition beyond their school or district for this honor. You can go to to get more information!

For any additional questions, please feel free to email directly!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Student Government Day

Student Government Day will be held on Friday, April 6, 2018! What is Student Government Day you ask? This program provides educators and students from Massachusetts's public and private high schools with many opportunities to learn first hand about state government. It enables government officials to interact with students. Additionally, it allows student to voice their positions on important current issues through prepared debates, and participate in the legislative process through simulated committee hearings and House and Senate formal sessions.

New this year: the Student Government coordinator will host several 30-minute informational webinars in February and march to provide more of an overview of the day and answer any questions about the logistics of the day. For more information about program, logistics or information please visit the Student Government Day website  or email .

Registration has been extended to February 16, 2018. To register click here.