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An Update from MA Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

Wow, what a morning. We were fortunate enough to join Special Education Directors across the state in a conference call with Russell Johnston, Senior Associate Commissioner at Mass DESE.

Here’s what we took away:

During this period of school closures,

the primary focus is to maintain and review of material that was taught this year. Parents and teachers are NOT responsible to teach new concepts/material, but assist with maintaining a child’s skills.

Mass DESE envisions two models of service delivery, once things settle down and districts have an opportunity to plan, although there's no firm timeline.

1 Informally provide supports and resources (which seems to be what we are receiving right now)

2 Provide more direct services to students in whole class, small group or individualized formats

Service providers should continue to keep clinical notes, service logs, communication logs and emails.

MA DESE has partnered with WGBH to help students stay engaged in learning especially if families don’t have access to internet or have the technology constraints. Educational content will be broadcast daily from noon to 5:00 Monday through Friday.

Compensatory services: Bottom line, the more services that can be provided now will mitigate the need for additional/compensatory services down the road. Again, Russell said compensatory services will be made on an individual basis once school reopens

MCAS: With the governor’s extension of school closures, the decision of what is happening with MCAS is delayed for the time being. Governor Baker submitted legislation yesterday that would grant MA DESE the authority to modify or waive the annual statewide MCAS assessment. It's our understanding that there will also be a provision addressing MCAS scores as part of the graduation criteria.

Obviously, this continues to be a fluid situation and we’re committed to keep you up to date. There are some big issues still outstanding, such as timelines for evaluations, requirements to hold Team meetings and ESY services to name a few. Stay tuned…

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