August 23, 2017

Educators for Excellence-Minnesota Responds to Minnesota’s Draft School Accountability Plan

August 23, 2017 (Minneapolis, Minnesota) — As part of a public comment period on Minnesota’s proposed plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Educators for Excellence-Minnesota (E4E-Minnesota), a teacher-led organization, submitted a public comment to the Minnesota Department of Education, outlining their feedback on the plan’s strengths and areas in need of improvement. E4E-Minnesota’s comments aim to inform the Minnesota Department of Education’s final draft plan, which will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by September 18, 2017.

“In my classroom, I help my students every day to think critically about their performance. They know that grades are not the end of their learning, but the beginning. Sitting with students, I have been able to show them that a sudden, staggering ‘C’ on their report card may look terrifying, but when you reveal that the root of the problem is just a failure to follow through on applying transition words or comma rules, the issue becomes manageable and they understand what they need to do to succeed,” said Ben MacKenzie, a high school English teacher at Hiawatha College Prep and member of E4E-Minnesota.

"We commend the Minnesota Department of Education for creating a plan focused on the twin pillars of equity and excellence and outlining critical supports for struggling schools. But as always, there is room for improvement in the plan, especially in developing holistic school ratings that clearly communicate key information about our school,” said Madaline Edison, Executive Director of E4E-Minnesota. “We are eager to ensure Minnesota leverages its ESSA plan to improve outcomes for all students, increase educational equity and look forward to seeing how the final version submitted to the U.S. Department of Education will achieve that shared goal.”

E4E-Minnesota submitted three critical recommendations to be included in the final ESSA plan:

  • Establish a high bar for accountability and school improvement, including setting absolute benchmarks for school identification, stronger exit criteria for schools identified in need of improvement and clearer definitions for school quality/student success indicators. 
  • Develop holistic school ratings that clearly communicate key information about accountability indicators for a school at-a-glance to families and the general public.
  • Hold schools that are identified for improvement accountable if they do not improve after three years of planning, implementation and support from the department by using more intense interventions, which should be clarified in the plan.