Massachusetts gets $15M for pre-school expansion – Education Week

Published Online: December 10, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts is among more than a dozen states receiving federal funds to expand early education programs.

Gov. Deval Patrick announced on Wednesday that the $15 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Education will help the cities of Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell and Springfield.

Patrick says the state has applied for $60 million over four years through the federal Preschool Development program and received the full $15 million share in the first year.

He says the grant will help expand pre-school programming for about 750 four-year-olds in the participating cities.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a statement that early education is a "powerful investment" that helps kids to grow and succeed.


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‘Mystery Parents’ Test Charters’ Enrollment of Spec. Ed., ELL Students - Education Week

'Mystery Parents' Test Charters' Enrollment of Spec. Ed., ELL Students - Education Week

Education Week

Published Online: December 5, 2014

Published in Print: December 10, 2014, as Charters' Enrollment Practices Put to Test by 'Mystery' Callers

Fielding phone calls from parents asking about enrollment is part of everyday business for schools, but for some charter schools, the person on the other end of the line may only be posing as a parent.

Modeled after “mystery” or “secret shopper” services used in retail, authorizers in the District of Columbia and Massachusetts are using a similar tactic to make sure the charter schools they oversee are not turning away students with more specialized needs, such as children with disabilities or who are still learning English.

This issue has long dogged the charter sector which nationally, some studies show, enrolls ...

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Massachusetts board to discuss student restraint – Education Week

Massachusetts board to discuss student restraint - Education Week

Education Week

Published Online: November 24, 2014

MALDEN, Mass. (AP) — The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has scheduled a pair of meetings this week.

At a special meeting scheduled for Monday, the board is expected to discuss new educator licensure policy and efforts to strengthen special education policy and practice.

At the regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, one item on the agenda is a discussion on proposed amendments to the rules governing...

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Study looks at Massachusetts school punishment – Education Week

Study looks at Massachusetts school punishment - Education Week

Education Week

Published Online: November 19, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — A new report has found that a disproportionate number of minorities and students with disabilities are being are being punished by Massachusetts public schools, and in many cases the punishments are for minor infractions.

The report released Tuesday by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice was based on data supplied by the state for the 2012-13 school year.

The study found that...

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Gov. Patrick hoping to avoid school budget cuts – Education Week

Published Online: November 12, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick is hoping to avoid cuts in education aid to cities and towns as he drafts a plan to close an anticipated $325 million budget gap.

Patrick said Wednesday that everything else is on the table. He said his plan wouldn't dip into the state's rainy day fund.

Administration officials announced the budget hole last week. They said they would unveil their plan to close the gap within two weeks.

One reason for the gap is the fact that Massachusetts appears on track to meet the requirements triggering an automatic cut in the income tax rate from 5.2 percent to 5.15 percent in January.

That would cost the state $70 million in revenues in the fiscal year that ends June 30.

The state budget is about $37 billion.


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Massachusetts school demos ‘active shooter’ system – Education Week

Published Online: November 11, 2014

METHUEN, Mass. (AP) — School and police officials have unveiled a new system to detect and track a gunman that they say is the first in operation in a public school.

The Tuesday demonstration simulated a gunman entering a grammar school and opening fire.

The system's sensors automatically triggered alerts that reached all police officers and certain school officials within seconds of shots being fired.

The system then tracked the gunman as he moved through the building, sending alerts whenever shots were fired.

Police Chief Joseph Solomon said he believes such systems should be required in all public buildings.

School Superintendent Judith Scannell said she hopes the district can find the money to pay for outfitting its four other schools.

Shooter Detection Systems, the Massachusetts-based company that developed the technology, paid for the pilot project.


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Methuen to debut ‘active shooter’ system in school – Education Week

Published Online: November 11, 2014

METHUEN, Mass. (AP) — A city school will become the first in the nation to deploy an automated system to detect and track a gunman on campus.

City and school officials planned to attend a demonstration of the technology by Shooter Detection Systems, a Massachusetts-based company, on Tuesday afternoon at the undisclosed school.

Mayor Stephen Zanni, Schools Superintendent Judith Scannell, Police Chief Joseph Solomon and Congresswoman Nikki Tsgonas are among those who were expected to be on hand, along with police chiefs and police officers from across the northeast.

The demonstration will simulate an active shooter in a school building and show how police would respond using the new technology.

The "Guardian Active Shooter Detection System" is triggered by the sounds of gunfire, sending an alert to police within seconds.

Then, using smoke alarm-sized sensors installed throughout the school's classrooms and hallways, it can transmit audio recordings in real time, so that emergency responders can track the shooter and monitor other developments before, during and after the person enters the building.

School officials said the investment would dramatically improve current school lockdown procedures.

New England saw one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history when 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 elementary school pupils and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

Methuen school officials first announced plans for the system in July. They have said the system is being paid for by Shooter Detection Systems as a pilot program and not from city funds. The district hopes to install the system in other schools as well.

Shooter Detection Systems was founded in 2013 and is trying to market the systems to the owners and operators of malls, airports, government offices, schools and other public buildings. The system is based, in part, on those developed for the military.

Methuen is a city of about 47,000 residents about 29 miles north of Boston. It is located near the New Hampshire border.


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Obituary – Education Week

Obituary - Education Week

Education Week

Published Online: November 4, 2014

Published in Print: November 5, 2014, as Obituary

Obituary

Thomas M. Menino, the popular mayor of Boston who had authority over the city's schools throughout his 20-year tenure, died Oct. 30 of cancer. He was 71.

Mr. Menino took office in 1993, two years after the 57,000-student district came under mayoral control. He announced last year that he would not seek a sixth term.

A commemorative page on the district's website credits the mayor with leading the transformation of the school system "from a failing school district to ...

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Many school districts choose PARCC over MCAS test – Education Week

Published Online: October 27, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — Changes are coming in standardized testing for many Massachusetts school districts.

According to data from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 54 percent of school districts have opted to administer the English and mathematics PARCC exams to students in grades 3-8 next year, instead of the MCAS exams.

PARCC, short for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, was developed as part of the national Common Core standards.

This was the first time school systems were given the choice of which test to administer in grades 3-8.

But MCAS isn't going away immediately. Passing the 10th-grade MCAS exams in English, math, and science and technology remain a graduation requirement. All school districts must also continue to administer the MCAS science and technology to fifth- and eighth-graders.


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2 Massachusetts schools placed on probation – Education Week

Published Online: October 22, 2014

MALDEN, Mass. (AP) — The state education board has placed two schools, including the first virtual school in Massachusetts, on probation for low achievement and other problems.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education said Tuesday that Boston Green Academy and Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School have at least a year to show academic improvement. Failure to do so could lead to closure.

The headmaster at Boston Green Academy in Brighton said during public testimony before the vote that the problems at his school "will not and cannot happen again."

Officials at the virtual school said they were disappointed but have already addressed many of the problems, which were originally identified during a visit by state officials in June.

The online school teaches about 700 students from across the state.


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