Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
Minnesota ESEA Flexibility Waiver
Minnesota’s ESEA Flexibility Request has allowed the state to waive the following No Child Left Behind (NCLB) provisions:
• 2014 goal of 100 percent proficiency for all students
• Identification of schools as In Need of Improvement, Corrective Action and Restructuring
• Sanctions on Title I schools resulting from Not Making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
• Mandatory financial building set-asides for School Choice and Supplemental Educational Services
• Identification of districts as In Need of Improvement and Corrective Action
• Sanctions for Title I districts resulting from Not Making AYP
• Mandatory financial district set-asides for In Need of Improvement and Corrective Action
In order to have these provisions waived, Minnesota’s application had to meet four principles:
• College- and career-ready academic standards
• State-developed system of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support
• Supporting effective instruction and leadership
• Reducing unnecessary administrative burdens
The state accountability system was the principle for which Minnesota had to do the most work, and therefore it is the area of the application that has drawn the most attention. At the core of the new accountability system is the use of multiple measurements. Unlike AYP, which is mostly centered around proficiency, Minnesota’s Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR) uses four ratings, weighted equally, to measure school performance:
• Proficiency- Schools earn points in the MMR by meeting AYP proficiency goals in individual student subgroups. The percentage of subgroups that make AYP determines the percentage of points a school receives.
• Growth- Students are measured by their current performance on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) as relative to their performance in the most recent year they took the test. Each student receives a growth score, and schools get a growth score based on the average growth of all students in the school.
• Achievement Gap Reduction- Schools are measured based on how the growth of their students from the seven lower-performing subgroups (Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, English Learners, free and reduced lunch, and special education students) compares to the statewide average growth of higher-performing subgroups. Schools earn MMR points based on their ability to reduce the achievement gap. This measurement answers the question, “Is the growth of my lower-performing students such that it is reducing the achievement gap?”
• Graduation rate- Schools earn points through the same methodology as proficiency: by the percentage of the subgroups that reach the AYP target for graduation rates. Minnesota is using a new, federally-mandated, cohort-adjusted graduation rate calculation methodology.
In summary, the MMR is generated by dividing the total number of points earned by the total number of points possible. The percentage of possible points that each school earns will generate a Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR).
Using the results of the MMR, Title I schools can fall into five groups:
• Reward Schools- These schools are the top 15 percent of Title I schools based on the MMR. They represent the highest-performing schools on the four measurements. Currently, the reward for these schools mainly comes through public recognition. These schools are identified annually.
• Celebration Eligible- These are the 25 percent of schools directly behind the Reward School cutoff. These schools may apply to be Celebration Schools, and MDE selects approximately 10 percent of Title I schools to receive the Celebration School designation. When combined with the Reward Schools, we are recognizing the top 25 percent of Title I schools. These schools are identified annually.
• Continuous Improvement- These are the bottom 25 percent of Title I schools that have not already been identified as Priority or Focus. Continuous Improvement schools must work with their districts to create and implement improvement plans. MDE audits 10% of Continuous Improvement schools to ensure fidelity.
• Focus Schools- Using just the proficiency and achievement gap reduction measurements from the MMR, each school receives a Focus Rating that measures their contribution to the state’s achievement gap. The 10 percent of Title I schools with the lowest Focus Ratings are identified as Focus Schools, and must work with MDE and the Regional Centers of Excellence to implement serious interventions aimed at improving the performance of the school’s lowest-performing subgroups. Essentially, Focus Schools are designed to attack the achievement gap head on. These schools are identified every three years.
• Priority Schools- These are the 5 percent most persistently low-performing Title I schools based on the MMR. Just less than half of these schools are identified through their participation in the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. The remaining schools in this group are the Title I schools with the lowest percentages in the MMR. These schools must work with MDE and the Regional Centers of Excellence to implement turnaround plans to drastically change the way the school operates. These schools are identified every three years.
The Minnesota Regional Centers of Excellence provide technical assistance to school leadership and implementation teams for Priority and Focus Title I schools across the state. Through regular, ongoing dialogue and support, these specialists assist principals and teachers in improving academic outcomes for all students by working in partnership with the school staff. The MDE supports and oversees the efforts of the three Regional Centers by collaborating with staff from across the agency to provide guidance that will result in coordinated support to meet the needs of school leadership teams and enable them to improve achievement for all learners.
Finally, in order to ensure that all schools are being held accountable, MDE will annually publish two measurements for every school in the state: MMR and Focus Rating (FR). AYP results will be reported with new targets and there are no sanctions for not making AYP. The new state targets will reduce the achievement gap by half within six years. The MMR will be reported on the MDE website using a Multiple Measurements Chart that will allow parents, community stakeholders and educators to compare the performance of schools in all four MMR categories, as well as overall performance.