Massachusetts Elementary School Principals' Association
MESPA Monday Memo
May 1, 2017
From The MESPA Blog:
Talking with Families about “13 Reasons Why”
By Beth Witcoff, Principal of the Annie Sullivan Middle School, Franklin
As was noted in last Friday’s Boston Globe, the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”  has gone viral, while generating conversation and controversy on the topic of suicide in schools around the country.  In this week’s post, Beth Witcoff shares some of her school team’s concerns about the program, including a fear that the show romanticizes suicide and does not depict options for getting help or treatment.  Beth also shares a sample letter her school sent to parents about the show.  

This post is a must read for principals from elementary to high school. To read more, go to the MESPA blog at:  
From the Executive Director:
Educator Preparation Matters
As you enter the throes of hiring season, here is some interesting food for thought from the DESE Educator Preparation office, which initiated a research project “ to better understand the relationship between teachers’ pathways into the profession and workforce outcomes.”   

Pathways into the profession included:
  • Licensure (preliminary, initial or temporary)
  • Program Type (baccalaureate, post-baccalaureate, alternative)
  • Specific preparation programs
  Workforce outcomes included:
  • Teacher value added on state standardized tests
  • Summative evaluation ratings
  • Teacher attrition
  Here are some key findings from the study:
  • Based on summative evaluation ratings, the type of program may matter. The type of program (baccalaureate, post-baccalaureate, alternative) a candidate completes appears to have some impact on their readiness once employed. Based on educator evaluation summative performance ratings, researchers found that teachers from post-baccalaureate programs received higher ratings overall. Graduates from alternative programs had an even larger positive effect. The difference in summative ratings between a completer from a baccalaureate program and a post-baccalaureate program is nearly as large of that of a novice educator and a second year teacher. The difference in summative ratings between a completer from a baccalaureate program and an alternative program is similar to the difference between a novice teacher and a teacher with five years of experience.”’

  • Results are less clear when considering teacher value added on state standardized tests.  “Overall, outcome for the majority of teacher preparation providers are not significantly different from the state mean. In conducting the analyses, researchers found that estimates of effectiveness are highly sensitive to the chosen modeling specifications.” (i.e. student background).  One additional note: “Variation within a provider is more significant than across providers.”

  • The providers and pathways that produce teachers with higher evaluations and student achievement gains are not always those whose teachers remain in the profession the longest. “Higher rates of attrition are correlated with certain licensure pathways and program types, but that may not matter based on the effectiveness of candidates entering through those routes. Researchers found that teachers who enter the profession with a preliminary and temporary license are more likely to leave the teaching profession each year than teachers with initial licenses. Graduates from alternative providers appear less likely to remain in teaching compared to graduates from baccalaureate programs. Yet, in both these instances, evaluation ratings for temporary licensed teachers and those prepared through an alternative program were higher, suggesting potential short-term trade-offs for districts in hiring from these pathways.”
For a more detailed analysis, see the presentation to be posted later this week at: .  

Follow-up on Foundation Budget

Last Monday, I wrote about  S. 223 "An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget.  Later in the week, I received a link to a short video clip prepared by the office of  Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz (Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education).  The clip does a nice job clearly stating the need for the legislation.  Take a peek at:  

MSAA Unification Video

As part of the “Get Out the Vote” for unification, our colleagues at MSSAA produced the following video featuring Karen Downey, Principal of the Louise A. Conley Elementary School in Whitman making the case for unification:  

Rick Rogers
New Job Postings
Nashua, NH: Assistant Superintendent for Accountability & Assessment
Nashua, NH:  Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction
Note: Deadline Extended to May 4, 2017    

For more information, go to:
Write for the MESPA Blog!
Are you interested in sharing your ideas, insights and questions with colleagues? If so, click here to sign up for a post. Julie Vincentsen, Principal of Ruggles Lane School, will reach out with specifics. You submit a Word document and we will take care of the posting for you. 

As Beth Wifcoff so ably demonstrates in this week's post, we write for our communities all the time – this just changes your audience. Consider taking a current newsletter you’ve written and modify it for your colleagues.  To view past posts, go to: .
5 Reasons to Plan a Field Trip to
  1. Exciting New Programs – Check out our new program offerings including Connect + Explore, an interactive stage show, new class-sized Make + Explore workshops, and brand new Make History Guides for self-guided groups.
  2. STEM Connections – From seeing simple machines in action to exploring our water powered mills, OSV is full of science, engineering and math curricular connections.
  3. Build Empathy and Language skills – Engaging with our costumed historians, artisans, and farmers throughout the Village builds strong questioning, thinking, and reasoning skills. Learning about the way people lived in the past builds empathy and understanding and helps students make connections to their own lives.
  4. Room to Roam – Our campus is full historic buildings, galleries, gardens, a river and mill pond, and nature trails – giving your students plenty of space to stretch their legs, explore, and explore our diverse natural environment.
  5. Animal Love – Come meet our animal family including lots of lambs and a calf born Easter morning. Talk with our farmers about how we take care of our cows, pigs, horses, sheep and chickens, and learn about the many ways people and animals work together.
Special offer: $75 Off for New Schools!
Mention “Spring 75” when booking online or over the phone for a special Spring 2017 savings!
Visit for more information and to book a trip.  
Summer Professional Learning:
Introduction to Aquaponics
Dynamic Science for the K-8 Classroom Session 1: June 27-29, 2017
Session 2: July 11-13, 2017
Location: Port Clyde, Maine
Aquaponics is the cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a recirculating environment. A
combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, aquaponics pairs fish and plants in one integrated system. Fish waste provides a food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. This creates a sustainable ecosystem where both plants and fish can thrive.

The workshop includes:
  • 2.5 days of hands-on teacher training in aquaponics
  • A complete classroom aquaponics kit including tank, filter, pumps, planting materials and an operating manual
  • Standards- based aquaponics curriculum materials that will engage and motivate your students
  • 1.5 CEU’s available through the University of Southern Maine or 15 contact hours
  • Enjoy a relaxing and informative evening nature cruise in Muscongus Bay.
  FMI and to Register: