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A ‘well-rounded education’ is what Minnesota is aiming for today. In this spirit, Minnesota’s new proposed accountability plan will reward schools that spend less time on math and reading. The current system, which has been in place since 2018, would be replaced with a new system that adds more indicators of school quality, recognizes high-achieving schools, and identifies persistent low-achievers that need state support.

What is tooks like

  • One major change is a “well-rounded education” indicator.
  • The state would calculate the share of time spent outside of tested subject areas to promote a well-rounded education experience.
  • Expanding types of measures with well-rounded education that would be weighted less heavily than test performance and graduation rates.
  • Aims to create incentives, while striking the right balance between curriculum and the well-rounded indicator.
  • For high school, state wants to incorporate ninth-grade course completion rates and participation in courses that can earn students credit for college.

Goal

  • A more useful and accurate accountability program
  • Recognition of the importance of a well-rounded education
  • Encourage access and opportunity to lessons outside tested subject areas.
  • Improve advanced course accessibility.
  • Credit-recovery and similar schools would be judged on their seven-year graduation rate instead of four, giving students more time.
  • The state also wants to provide only targeted, not comprehensive, support for high schools where a single student group has a graduation rate below 67 percent.
  • Add an eight category for race and ethnicity by separating American Indians from indigenous people from tribes outside of North America.

Timeline

  • The state is supposed to identify schools for state support every three years.
  • Because of disruptions related to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government approved a waiver last year allowing Minnesota to wait till this summer to pick new schools.
  • The newest school quality indicators – well-rounded education, ninth-grade course completion and career- and college-readiness coursework – won’t be ready in time for this year’s list.
  • But, pending federal approval, they should start appearing on the state’s public school report cards next year and factor into school identification in 2025.

Pandemic changes

  • The state is proposing one-time changes to this year’s identification process.
  • Because of the pandemic, Minnesota students did not take state standardized tests in spring 2020, and the 2021 test results were not used for accountability purposes.
  • This summer, the state does plan to use the spring 2022 tests to identify schools that need support, but they’ll be weighted half as heavily as the 2019 tests.
  • In addition, the state wants to throw out the consistent attendance indicator for the 2021-22 school year only, because district attendance practices have varied widely during the pandemic.
  • In its place, the state wants to use an “enrollment maintenance indicator,” which measures student retention from spring 2021 to fall 2022.
    • Schools will perform well on the metric if a high percentage of their K-4 students from last school year returned for grades 1-5 this year.

To Comment

  • To comment, email MDE.ESSA@state.mn.us.

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