MCAS HS Science Question Tryouts - Respond by Nov. 30

Dear High School Principals and Directors of Approved Private Special Education Schools, Educational Collaboratives, and Institutional Settings:

We are pleased to invite your school to participate in a voluntary, computer-based question tryout in spring 2018 for the next-generation MCAS high school Biology and Introductory Physics tests. If your school is interested in participating, please complete the brief online form (see instructions below). The deadline for submission is 5:00 p.m., Thursday, November 30.

As you know, the MCAS science assessments will be transitioning to both computer-based testing as well as the new learning standards in the 2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework.

The purpose of this MCAS question tryout is to evaluate computer-based test questions; no student, school, or district results will be generated. The Department plans to release a set of the questions for instructional purposes for use in the following school year.

The tryout will include new interactive, technology-enhanced test questions based on the 2016 STE standards. Any school that educates high school students can participate in the question tryout, regardless of where the school is in the process of adopting the new 2016 standards. Any school can also participate regardless of whether other schools in the same district participate.

Question tryout administration and participation guidelines

The tryout administration window will be May 29–June 15, 2018, except for June 6–7. (Schools may not administer the question tryouts on the dates for operational high school STE testing.) Each of the question tryouts consist of one sessionthat should take approximately 45 minutes. The tryout session does not need to be administered concurrently to all students. For example, one classroom at a time may participate, as students cycle through the school’s computer lab.

Schools may choose to have one or more classrooms participate. Students in grade 9 or 10 who are taking a Biology or an Introductory Physics course may participate. Schools may administer the tryouts in both content areas, or just one. Students with certain accommodations (e.g., text-to-speech edition, Braille, large-print) as well as first-year ELL students should not participate. More information on these exceptions will be provided to schools that register.

Next steps

To complete the online form:

·         Click this link.

·         Enter your four-digit password, included at the top of this email. Passwords are unique for each school.

·         Enter your school’s information, including the estimated number of students expected to participate in the Biology or Introductory Physics question tryout.

Schools interested in participating in the tryout should inform their superintendents. The Department will follow up with interested schools in early 2018 regarding next steps, including instructions on completing the Student Registration/Personal Needs Profile (SR/PNP) to register students to participate.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 781-338-3625 or

Thank you,

The Office of Student Assessment Services

Classroom Grant Funded by MassCUE!

MassCUE offers up to $3,000 to MassCUE current members through a competitive grant process. If you have an idea for infusing technology purposefully into the classroom, then this is the grant for you! We fund hardware and almost anything else you need to make your idea come alive! Please note, one thing we don’t fund is stipends for teachers.  The grant application process for the 2017-2018 school year closes on December 1, 2017Learn More.

US DOE New Frontiers in Clean Energy Workshop for Teachers at MOS

The US Department of Energy is sponsoring a clean energy workshop for MS/HS teachers at the Museum of Science on November 17 from 8:30 am-3:30pm. There is no cost, and there are stipends for travel and substitutes. There will be presenters from the Department of Energy, hands-on activities with KidWind materials, networking opportunities for best practices for teaching clean energy curriculum, and a tour of the museum’s energy-related exhibits.

There is a brief application to complete (attached). The focus is on supporting girls interest and careers in STEM- a few sentences is all that is needed. The deadline has been extended, and space is still available! Please encourage your teachers to apply for this great opportunity to celebrate women, STEM, and new frontiers in clean energy.

For additional information visit the website: or contact Melinda

Registration Now Open 2018 NSELA Leadership Summit in Atlanta

Registration is now open for the 2018 NSELA Leadership Summit on March 14 at Atlanta's Westin Peachtree Plaza.

Click here for the current schedule of NSELA events to be held in conjunction with 2018 National Conference on Science Education. Please join us for as many events as you can fit into your conference schedule.

Between now and Feb. 28, the rate to attend the Leadership Summit is $150 for NSELA members and $205 for NSELA non-members. Prices rise afterwards. The non-member rate includes a one-year membership in NSELA. Register today!

The National Science Education Leadership Association was formed in 1959 to meet a need to develop science education leadership for K - 16 school systems.  NSELA members have a strong interest in advances in a broad array of topics including:

  • student learning,
  • safety,
  • curriculum,
  • technology,
  • professional development,
  • assessment,
  • inquiry, and
  • science education reform

NSELA is an affiliate of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) in Lowell, Silent Sky

Opening on October 18 at Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) in Lowell, Silent Sky is the incredible true story of boundary-shattering New England astronomer Henrietta Leavitt and her colleagues working at Harvard Observatory in the early 20thcentury. Astronomers and scientists get 25% off tickets using promocode: SKYPLAY. (4 tickets per order, offer may be rescinded at any time, cannot be combined with other offers.) Just call the Box Office at 978-654-4678 or go online at to buy your tickets. Also, student tickets are always just $15.

Some materials:

Fab@School Match Grant Program

As part of an international consortium of research and education partners, led by University of Virginia, the Fab@School Initiative ...introduces engaging STEM teaching and learning earlier on in schools. ... To support this research initiative, the Reynolds Center for Teaching, Learning, and Creativity has developed a key tool in the program - Fab@School Maker Studio, a digital design and fabrication platform. The online software has been designed as a flexible on-ramp to meaningful STEM/STEAM learning, which introduces an engineering process specifically for use in K-8 classrooms.

Fab@School Maker Studio tools are easily adapted across grade levels - from step-by-step and ready-made standards-based projects - to recreating and modifying sophisticated inventions offered through a U.S. Department of Education i3-funded partnership with the Smithsonian.

Thanks to generous funding offered by mindSpark Learning through the Morgridge Family Foundation (MFF) and the Reynolds Center, we are inviting a limited number of schools/districts to participate in the Fab@School Match Grant Program.

Match Grant Opportunity

We are pleased to offer a matching grant of $1,750 per school, which will help provide:

  • A year-long school site license for Fab@School Maker Studio web-based, digital fabrication software program - compatible with Mac, Windows, iPad, Chromebooks, and other mobile devices.
  • Digital fabrication hardware (2 Silhouette Portrait digital fabricators).
  • Virtual professional development providing an overview of the software tools, as well as support for curriculum integration.

Subsidized by the $1,750 match grant from mindSpark Learning through MFF/Reynolds Centerthe cost to districts will be the $1,750 per school for the year-long Fab@School program.

To take advantage of this special invitation, please email: for further information about participating in this program. 

Research Opportunity for Teachers

A team of researchers is studying teacher learning in the Tufts Teacher Engineering Education Program (TEEP). Because engineering is new to elementary education, there isn’t a lot of research on how teachers learn new pedagogical practices or how to best prepare teachers to teach engineering. We are interested in studying what teachers notice in students’ engineering and how that shifts over the program. We are also interested in teachers’ reflections on their goals and instructional practices in engineering.

We are asking K-5 classroom teachers or specialists who are enrolled (or plan to enroll) in TEEP if they would like to participate in this research. Note: Participation in the research will not impact your admission to the program; decisions about TEEP admission will be made separately from this research study.

As part of the study, we’d ask that you talk with us at the start and end of the program about your prior experiences and current instructional practices. In each course, we’d also like to look at videos of students’ engineering together and ask you what you notice about students’ work—both in videos we have already and in videos you collect and share of students’ engineering from your classroom or afterschool settings. Finally, we would ask to look at your coursework across the program, including your posts and comments.

Your participation is voluntary; if you choose not to participate, your grade in the TEEP courses will not be affected. You can also choose to stop participating at any point. To compensate you for your time, we will offer you $750 for each course during which you participate in the study.

If you are interested in learning more or if you have any questions, please contact Dr. Jessica Watkins at

Middle school science teachers wanted for study

The Center for Children and Technology at Education Development Center is looking for seventh and eighth grade science teachers to participate in a National Science Foundation-funded study called Playing with Data. The study looks at how teachers use data from games students play to make decisions about instruction. Participating teachers will agree to use a supplemental mini-unit, online game, and a teacher data dashboard to develop and track students' progress in argumentation skills. The mini-unit would be part of teachers' regular units on energy sources and includes lesson plans, classroom activities, and a final capstone project for classroom debate. Teachers will receive a $500 stipend at the end of the study. More information is available at the link above or by emailing Heather Kim.

Project Accelerate: Bringing AP Physics 1 to High Schools Not Offering this Opportunity

Project Accelerate is a National Science Foundation funded high school university partnership program bringing a no cost blended online AP Physics 1 course to schools that do not offer AP Physics. Schools throughout the New England states are eligible to participate in this partnership program.  

During the pilot year of Project Accelerate, although the sample size was too small to provide statistical significance, the raw data show Project Accelerate students outperforming their peer groups enrolled in traditional AP Physics 1 classrooms.

Project Accelerate combines the supportive infrastructures from the students’ traditional school with a highly interactive private edX online course. The primary instructional tool is the private online program containing instructional scaffolding specific to the target population, multiple assessment tools, simulations, and a suite of virtual explorations emphasizing science process practices. We embrace a minds-on philosophy throughout the online course and virtual laboratories are woven throughout the course. Although not required for participation, the project team will support and work cooperatively with those schools wishing to complement the online instruction with hands-on laboratories conducted at the partner high school site.

If you would like to learn more about this opportunity, kindly contact Mark D. Greenman.

Mark D. Greenman - Director Project Accelerate

Boston University - Physics Department

Office: 617-358-6729


Material to be Assessed on 2018 Science and Technology/Engineering MCAS Tests:

The Department is pleased to present information regarding the "overlapping" standards from the 2001/2006 and 2016 science and technology/engineering standards that will be assessed on the 2018 MCAS grade 5 and grade 8 science and technology/engineering tests. The 2018 tests will consist of items that align to both sets of standards.

*As a reminder, this year's test (2017) is based on the 2001/2006 science and technology/engineering standards.

STEM Integration for Education Leaders

Join us for the STEM Strategic Plans Unveiling Ceremony on May 19, 10-12 at WPI.
Cohort V teams will share with the public highlights from their work on developing long-term STEM/STEAM plans. The event is free but registration is required. Email to RSVP for this event. 

STEM Integration for Education Leaders is a year-long program designed to provide individualized guidance to education leaders and administrators as they move to improve STEM outcomes for all students in their school/district.

In support of Massachusetts’ Plan for Excellence in STEM Education, the program helps participants develop a strategic plan for STEM integration to:

  • enhance students’ interest and proficiency in STEM subjects
  • increase graduation rates
  • support teachers as they become more effective STEM educators

More information can be found on the WPI website:

From the Cape Cod Regional STEM Network

Weekly STEM favorites:  STEM Summer Reading

We are starting a new series, Weekly STEM favorites, in order to share ideas, resources, and news you can use.  

This week is the Best STEM books, assembled by theNational Science Teacher Association in collaboration with Children's Book Council and other education groups.  Get ready for summer reading, for students and adults alike!

The Best STEM Books list gives a good range of age-appropriate books, and reading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) trade books is the perfect way for students to build literacy skills while learning new ways to understand the world through STEM!  Read more about how the list was put together and the philosophy behind it, and then the full list is here!  Share with parents, librarians, and any one else who is interested in summer reading.

We hope that this is a great kickoff for your summer reading lists and sparks your STEM enthusiasm this week!


Recruiting Science Teachers

Building Systems from Scratch:  Research on the Development of Computational and Systems Thinking in Middle School Students through Explorations of Complex Earth Systems

 The Project: A group of science educators and researchers at TERC, an education nonprofit in Cambridge MA, and computer science experts and researchers at Northeastern University are collaborating on a curriculum design and research project that focuses on middle school students making computer games about climate science.

What it means for teachers and students to participate: This is Year 3 of the project. By next year, we will have undertaken two years of implementation and curriculum redesign in Cambridge and Newton with a total of 9 teachers. In Year 3, we will be conducting a comparison study.

We are asking you to be an implementation or comparison teacher.

What will teachers get:  Professional development to support implementation will consist of a 3-day summer workshop (18 hours), followed by 8-10 hours online and 8-10 hours of teacher-led study groups during the school year. In the summer following implementation, teachers will attend a 1-day (6 hours) wrap-up workshop.  They will earn PDPs for their work in the project, or they may participate in an additional 15+ hours of work to earn 3 graduate credits. In addition, they will deepen their understanding of effective practices in implementing the new standards.  They will contribute to research and a new curriculum that will integrate computers in STEM classrooms. Teachers will be paid a stipend for their work at a rate that is typical for similar work in their districts.

Please contact Eli Tucker-Raymond ( 617 873-9683 or Gilly Puttick ( 617 873-9600 if interested or with any questions.

Educator Licensure & License Renewal Proposed Regulation Changes:

On February 28,  the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 9-1 to send proposed changes to the Regulations for Educator Licensure and Program Approval (603 CMR 7.00), Educator License Renewal (603 CMR 44.00), andCertification of Supervisors of Attendance (603 CMR 13.00) out for public comment. The public comment period is open until May 1, and ESE encourages educators to weigh in on these proposals.  The Department anticipates that the draft regulations will return to the Board on June 27 for a potential vote.

The proposals are intended to streamline the regulations and licensure system, close loopholes, clarify certain provisions, and reduce regulatory burden. Public comment can be submitted via online survey through the links provided above or via email to

NSF opportunities for middle school science classrooms

The first is a proposal to the National Science Foundation for an experimental curriculum design project that will integrate robotics, engineering design and biomimicry (drawing inspiration from nature to inform robot design) in middle school science classrooms.  At this point, interest at the district level sufficient to write a letter of commitment to help us with teacher recruitment is all that we are looking for. 

The second project is currently in its 2nd year of implementation in Cambridge and Newton 8th grade classrooms. We are testing a curriculum that integrates computers into Earth science by tasking students to design a computer game that teaches other students about climate science. We would be seeking to recruit 8th grade teachers to participate in the project during the 2017-2018 school year.  The curriculum takes about 20 hours, is aligned with the MA standards, and students in the program have shown significant assessment gains. Teachers will receive professional development and a stipend for their participation.

If interested, contact Gillian Puttick for more information at 617 873 9712 or

Next-Generation MCAS Practice Tests Available:

Next-generation MCAS practice tests are being posted on a rolling basis to the new MCAS Resource Center. A student tutorial for the computer-based version of the test is coming soon to the same webpage. These resources let students try the testing platform, including the tools and accessibility features that will be available during testing. This is also an opportunity to become familiar with new technology-enhanced types of question. Since this is the first year of phasing in computer-based testing for MCAS, ESE strongly encourages schools to have all students view the tutorial and try practice tests.


Beginning with the class of 2016, a student’s score on a high school Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) MCAS test will be added to the eligibility criteria for the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship. Therefore, the score for a grade 9 or 10 student who takes the February 2014 Biology MCAS test will count toward his or her scholarship eligibility. 

The Department strongly recommends that schools notify students and their parents or guardians in writing about this new criterion if students will be participating in the February Biology MCAS testing. Please refer to the Department's website here for more information about the Adams Scholarship.

What are your experiences teaching climate change?

At the National Center for Science Education, we're getting a lot of questions about whether the new administration's attitude towards climate change is going to affect science education. We would really value your feedback! What is your experience with teaching climate change? Do you teach climate change in communities where there is a lot of opposition or lack of acceptance? Do you anticipate, or have you already experienced, any differences in your students' questions since the election?

We are interested in hearing about how you have worked through teaching socially controversial material. 

Please email to share your experiences. We will not share any of your stories without your permission.