A Message from Associate Commissioner Elizabeth L. Bennett
Thank you for all you do for our students. Stay warm this weekend! Our next CCTE call will be on Monday, February 8 at 11:00am and a zoom link will be sent.
Upcoming Webinars Increasing FAFSA Completion
For last year’s seniors, enrollment in higher education dropped by 10 percent this past fall compared to the previous year, and by 20 percent among economically disadvantaged students. COVID is clearly exacerbating already persistent college going gaps, particularly for low income, African American and Latino students.
For this year’s seniors, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion has dropped compared to this time last year by over 9 percent statewide, with larger drops in populations with historically low college going rates. FAFSA completion is a strong indicator of college-going, and this drop may be an early indication of further drops in college enrollment in September 2021.
Overcoming the financial barrier to higher education is critical. To help mitigate this potential crisis in college going, DESE, in partnership with Mass. Dept. of Higher Education, Mass. School Counselors Assn. (MASCA), Reach Higher, and GEARUP are sponsoring two FAFSA completion webinars to help illustrate the FAFSA completion situation, demonstrate FAFSA reports on Edwin Analytics, and hear from a few practitioners to explain how they are “getting it done” despite the pandemic.
While these sessions are particularly aimed at high school counselors and district and high school administrators, all are welcome. Please register for one of the sessions ahead of time. These sessions will be offered via Zoom. After registering at one of the links below, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
High Quality College & Career Programs Data Reporting Highlights
DESE staff will present a webinar on capturing student enrollment in Innovation Pathways and Early College programs. The team will offer updates about required data elements in both SIMS and SCS and answer questions from you about these expectations. Efforts continue to secure a sustainable funding source, and accurate counts are critical to supporting these programs which are so valuable for students. We strongly encourage a member of both district data teams and program teams to participate as we attempt to collect the most accurate data possible for March SIMS and beyond, as these data are publicly reported.
While we strongly encourage “live” participation, we understand how busy you are. This webinar will be recorded so you can share with other colleagues and revisit it at your convenience. And as always, we welcome your questions.
Clear communication is essential to bring us together and plan for a safe future. DESE is continuously working to improve communication with all those involved in and impacted by our public schools. Please take this two-minute survey to help inform DESE's communication efforts. Thank you!
Safety Corner - from Dave Edmonds, CCTE's Safety Specialist
Safety, Health and Accessibility are the three mandates of my facility reviews. Why am I checking for accessibility? Well, how can your workplace be safe if it is not accessible? This weekend I remembered a performance of the Violinist Itzhak Perlman. He had contracted polio as a child and went on to have an amazing musical career. I remembered that the Orchestra had cleared a space wider than usual through their seating, because Perlman wore leg braces and used crutches and thus needed more space to enter. That was reasonable accommodation at its best.
Ensure that your classrooms, doorways, hallways, and bathrooms are kept clear of obstructions which may hinder accessibility. It is not just about the law or being fair, it is about being safe. There are many levels of disability. It takes recurring reviews to know how to keep your facility safely accessible. True equity in education includes all level of accessibility.