MESPA Monday Memo
October 10, 2016
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Wednesday, October 12
8:00-9:00 pm
This Month’s Topic: Professional Learning

From the Executive Director:

1. Principals Meeting with the Commissioner

Last week, the Executive Boards of MESPA and MSSAA met with Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education – the first of four meetings held each year in order to promote communication and discussion between DESE and the two associations who represent Massachusetts principals.  Among the topics of discussion:
  • Charter School Question:  The Commissioner expressed his hope that, regardless of the results of the Question 2 referendum, educators on both sides of the issue will be able to move forward and focus on our shared efforts to educate students in Massachusetts.

  • Educator Evaluation – Impact on Student Learning:   In response to strong feedback from various educator groups, the Commissioner and DESE are working to make a significant revision to current evaluation regulations related to “impact n student learning,” including the controversial “district-determined measures.”   A confidential draft has been shared with various stakeholder groups (including MESPA and MSSAA) for feedback prior presenting a draft to the Board of Education in October followed by period of public comment.  We engaged in a worthwhile discussion of the proposed changes with the Commissioner. The discussion and feedback will continue in a joint meeting with DESE staff and representatives from Mass Partners (MASC, MASS, MESPA, MSSAA, MTA and AFT-Mass) this coming week.

  • Next Generation MCAS: Accountability & Technology:   The Commissioner provide an update on the development of Next Generation MCAS. He clarified that all schools will be “held harmless” in terms of their accountability ratings based on the 2017 tests.  He encouraged schools to consider having all their students (not just the required Gr. 4 and & Gr. 8) take the on-line version of the new tests since schools will be held harmless this year. He pointed to research that shows students perform better in the second year they use on-line testing.

  • ESSA Implementation: The new law provides states with more flexibility, but requires substantive consultation with stakeholder groups.   We discussed the provision of the law that requires states to “set aside” 3% of Title IIA funding for professional development for principals. The Commissioner indicated he is interested in targeting this money to address “pipeline” issues for principals, particularly finding principals for high needs schools. 

  • Commissioner’s Weekly Update:   A reminder that all principals should be automatically receiving the Commissioner’s Weekly Update (usually sent out late Friday afternoon). If you have not been receiving this update, you may send an email to with the following information in the body of the email: subscribe ESEUpdate Your Name. (Example: subscribe ESEUpdate John Smith)Leave the subject line blank

2. Regional Support Groups FAQ

Two related questions have come up around our new Regional Support Groups:
  1. How are these groups different from County Meetings?  MESPA’s county directors have sponsored 2-3 county meetings per year – sometimes at a restaurant with food provided by a sponsor. Some counties met more regularly than others – and attendance at meetings varied considerably.  Some meetings had a focus topic, but networking was the primary purpose.  Regional support groups are intended to provide a set membership who commit to meet together on a regular basis. Group members share ideas and get support and feedback from trusted colleagues around issues related to leadership practice. Facilitators guide the conversation, drawing on the insights and experiences of group members to help engage the group in reflective dialogue and collaborative problem-solving.
  2. Why is there a charge for these groups when county meetings were free? The charge covers the cost small stipends for the facilitators.  Our retired members have agreed to do this work for about half the usual cost. Host principals receive an even smaller stipend for organization and refreshments. We also felt that a small charge would encourage participants to make a commitment to attend. It should be noted that our $200 fee is less than half the cost of other groups like these around the state.
For more information and to join one of our 8 Regional Support Groups,
Go to: Regional Support Groups  

3. Monday Memo Archive

If you missed an issue or want to refer back to a topic, we have added a new archive of back issues of the Monday Memo to our website.  The archive is organized by date with a featured topic shown. The archive can be found under “Publications” and “Quick Links” on our website.
Rick Rogers
Don’t Miss
MESPA's Fall Conference!
“The Connected Leader”
Thursday, November 3, 2016
MESPA Educational Center in Marlborough
Keynote Speaker: Alan November
Alan November will challenge and inspire you to think about technology in different ways. Our concurrent sessions will provide opportunities to connect with and learn from colleagues.

Registration is limited to 100 participants so sign-up soon!
For more information, go to:
From the MESPA Blog
This Week’s Post: Students Doing the Teaching
by Brian Wildeman, Principal of Remington Middle School, Franklin
In this week’s post, Brian describes how a student-led “Tech Titans” team became a resource at his school to support teachers with the integration of technology in their lessons.   Brian reminds us: “ As a principal it is extremely rewarding to watch students take the expectations of an open-ended task and completely blow them out of the water.”

MESPA Members Invited, Too!
MESPA Retired Members Meeting POSTPONED
The meeting scheduled for October 13 will be rescheduled for a future date.Send your ideas and suggestions to Retired Principals Representative Tom LaValley at
Professional Development Workshops
Choose In-Person or On-Line
Working in partnership with Ribas Associates, MESPA is providing 22 In-Person and 9 on-line workshops for teachers and school leaders in the areas of:
  1. Addressing the Social-Emotional Learning Needs of All Students
  2. Strengthening Collaborative Teacher Teams
  3. Developing Leadership Skills
Your teachers can register at the membership rate if you are a member.
A complete program of studies and registration form can be found at:
Thank You for Joining or Renewing!
Choose MESPA only ($299) or MESPA/NAESP ($534)
For a membership form:
If you have questions or need assistance with processing membership,
contact Victoria Ellison (
# ThankAPrincipal
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