Are they Better? Minnesota Schools Evaluated on New Standards

Seem to be at least a few critics

MINNEAPOLIS- Minnesota education officials have drafted a plan that changes the way that schools are evaluated for performance.

The plan, called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is Minnesota’s implementation of an act of the same name signed by then President Obama in 2015. Similar to the federal act, ESSA in Minnesota expands off the Elementary and Secondary School Act (ESEA) of 1965 signed by Lyndon B. Johnson, and the most recent additions by the George W. Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind.  

State officials say the law will change the way in which schools are evaluated, putting greater emphasis on individual categories and eliminating an overall score for the school, known as the Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR) system. These categories include evaluating schools based on student test scores, progression of students on these state tests, graduation rates, progress for students learning English and school attendance. The plan explains that a funnel approach will be used in order to assess which schools need support.

“Minnesota will use a funnel approach that filters schools to find those that are low across all indicators. The process first checks school performance on the academic indicators, including academic achievement, English language proficiency, academic progress and graduation rates, and lastly, the process evaluates every school’s consistent attendance rates,” reads the plan.“Using this funnel approach, Minnesota will identify schools that are the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title I schools in need of support based on low overall performance as well as any public school with individual student groups that are underachieving.”

In this way funding will be more directly siphoned toward a particular issue of a school. The way this process will work is also laid out in the plan:

“Minnesota will provide support to districts serving identified schools by using school improvement funds and state funds to: (1) make grants to the Minnesota districts serving the highest proportions of schools identified for comprehensive and targeted support and improvement and that have capacity to support school improvement activities in schools; and, (2) make grants to regional educational service agencies—the Minnesota service cooperatives—to serve schools implementing comprehensive and targeted support improvement plans through Minnesota’s Regional Centers of Excellence.”

The plan also lays out a variety of clarifications on state education policies when it comes to state achievement grants for the education of delinquents.

In the end, a greater focus will be put on developing school districts via the Regional Centers of Excellence, an initiative started in 2017. The regional centers have been lauded for their departure from the top down approach most frequently used in state education. Under the new laws, the regional centers system will increase the number of schools that it is planning to serve, with 185 schools added to its caseload.


Henry Carras