Included in this Special Edition:
- ESSA at a Glance
- Sample Letter to Education Commissioner
- ESSA Meetings (see sidebar)
After more than a year of stakeholder meetings,
MDE has released its draft plan
to replace No Child Left Behind, known as Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This new accountability system will mean new changes in education policy at the federal, state, and school level.
ESSA at a glance:
- No change in the current standards and assessments.
- New statewide and student subgroup goals are established and intended to align with World's Best Workforce.
- English Language is elevated as an indicator, not a separate system.
- High schools which do not graduate two-thirds in any student group will be identified as needing "comprehensive support." This goes beyond the ESSA requirement of 67 percent of all students.
- Academic achievement is measured by a point system. One point is given for students in the "meets standards" or "exceeds standards" level. Any student that does not take the assessment will count as "not proficient" in the calculation. There are no points for "partially meets standards."
- Academic growth (elementary and middle schools) is determined by moving from one category to another.
- Consistent attendance (opposite of chronic absenteeism) is a nonacademic indicator used to identify the bottom 5 percent of schools, defined as 90 percent attendance.
- A dashboard approach is being developed rather than a single school score for overall academic achievement.
- Schools identified as in need of improvement will be evaluated for up to three years and support delivered through the Regional Centers of Excellence. School districts will have access to MDE's list of research-based interventions.
- A funnel approach using five indicators to calculate the bottom 5 percent of Title I schools is used to identify schools for comprehensive support or targeted improvement.
- A non-Title I school whose student group is "consistently under-performing" will be identified as in need of targeted support.
Sample Letter for All School Board Members:
Dear Commissioner Cassellius,
As a school board member in the ______________school district, I want to thank you for the the work you and your staff have put in drafting the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan for Minnesota.
It is important that Minnesota's accountability plan sets high expectations, yet accurately and fairly reflects the work of school board members as we work to close the achievement gap. As such, I appreciate the emphasis away from a punitive system, as in No Child Left Behind, to a supportive system for schools.
As a school board member, I have several comments:
- Please review the high school graduation rate indicator. The current plan requires 67 percent graduation rate for a school, or any student group within a school. This goes beyond ESSA requirements and will cause many more high schools to be identified for comprehensive support. If subgroups are included in graduation rates, districts need the resources to ensure all student subgroups meet or exceed the 67 percent graduation rate.
- Please include the seven-year graduation rates along with the four-year rates, which more accurately reflect public education's commitment to learners up to age 21.
- Please do not punish a school by counting students, who exercise their legal right to not take the test, as non-proficient. Please look at alternative ways to reach the 95 percent participation rate.
- Please do not eliminate a half point for students who "partially meets standards." All students are a part of the equation and must be considered to accurately depict the learning taking place at all grade levels.
- Please include a waiver exemption for students with medical or emotional needs in the "consistent attendance" calculation as well as financial resources required to reduce chronic absenteeism.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide input.
*Letters can be mailed to:
Minnesota Department of Education
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville MN 55113