MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail

February 27, 2014


Commissioner Cassellius Highlights Impact of Early Learning Scholarships in Winona

On Wednesday, Commissioner Cassellius observed classes at the Community KIDS Preschool program within the Winona Area Public School District. Governor Dayton and the Legislature invested $40 million in early learning scholarships during the 2013 legislative session to expand access to high-quality early learning for low-income families. To date, more than 75 percent of available early learning scholarships have been distributed across the state. Parents are urged to apply for remaining scholarships. Read the February 26 press release.


World’s Best Workforce Update

WBWF Question of the Week:  I work at an ALC (Alternative Learning Center); do we write our own WBWF plan or should we be part of a different plan?

Answer: Good question! The school board of a district is responsible for adopting a World's Best Workforce plan. So, that means that your ALC should be part of the district(s) plan that your ALC is part of. If your ALC serves several districts, it should be included in every participating district's plan.

Alternative learning settings are a key component to a WBWF plan. If districts are to realize success with the fourth goal of the legislation, "All students will graduate from high school," they need to consider ALL educational pathways for students that the district encompasses that will enable ALL students to graduate. Alternative programming in a district may include ALPs, ALCs, district-sponsored online learning, contract alternatives, and other district-sponsored alternative programs. Educators in these programs are critical in the goal setting and planning efforts that go into each district's WBWF plan so that planning comprehensively, the district provides the best educational opportunities for all students to be successful.

A planning document is available to help drive formative conversations within school districts as they develop their WBWF plans over the next several months. Access the planning document.

A PowerPoint presentation on the WBWF legislation is available that can be used by districts to inform staff, parents and other stakeholders. Access the PowerPoint presentation.

Watch for future WBWF updates each week in this newsletter. Any questions regarding the World’s Best Workforce initiative can be sent to

Department of Education Bonding Request

Red Lake Building Project –The governor recommends $13.491 million for Red Lake School District to bring district facilities to current education standards. Of this amount, $5.491 million will complete construction of the Red Lake High School and Middle School cafeteria, and $8 million will complete renovation and construction of Red Lake Elementary School. Red Lake is unique in the state because of their very limited private land ownership within district boundaries resulting in extremely low adjusted net tax capacity. Because of their inability to generate funds through levy, the governor recommends completing the building project through the capital improvement process. See the January 15 governor’s office press release. Read the governor’s 2014 Capital Budget Recommendations.

Early Childhood Facilities Bonding Request

The governor’s 2014 Strategic Capital Budget released on January 15, 2014, includes a recommendation for $3 million to fund construction or rehabilitation of early learning facilities owned by the state or a political subdivision. The purpose of this funding is to help local entities provide quality facilities for early learning program statewide. Current law requires 80 percent of the funds to be distributed to non-metropolitan area counties. If the Legislature approves this funding recommendation, the Minnesota Department of Human Services selects projects through a request for proposals process and requires a 50 percent non-state match. For more information, read the fact sheet provided by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Needs Assessment Survey for Teacher Development Evaluation

The Minnesota Department of Education, in partnership with Education Minnesota and the Minnesota School Boards Association, is conducting a needs assessment survey regarding teacher development and evaluation. We request that a district superintendent or designee, on behalf of the school board, complete this survey with the president of the exclusive representative of teachers or a designee, on behalf of teachers, so that a joint perspective is offered in the response data. While joint agreement is not required for charter schools, we encourage charter directors to complete this survey in collaboration with teacher leadership.

Read the memorandum and access the needs assessment survey. Please submit your response by Friday, March 7, 2014.

For assistance with questions, contact Tyler Livingston.

Please Review District and School Site Contact Information

So that school districts and charter schools can be informed of important information from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), the site verification coordinator from each school district and charter school are asked to review and update their school and district contact information in MDE’s MDE-ORG database. It is important that superintendent and charter school director names and e-mail addresses are correct as this database is used for informing you of time-sensitive information.

To update contact information for your district or school, visit the District and School Site Verification Web page. If you have questions, please e-mail or contact Mary Pat Olsen at 651-582-8624.


Minnesota Math Leaders and MDE Best Practice Series, Part I: Math and English Language Development – March 13, 2014

This workshop is provided by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Math Leaders as part of a best practice series for administrators and teacher leaders. It is focused on models for success, issues, and pitfalls in providing math programs in English language development.

Date: March 13, 2014, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Location: Minnesota Department of Education, Conference Center B, Room 15-16

The $75 registration fee includes lunch and materials. Participants will receive the book “Beyond Good Teaching: Advancing Mathematics Education for ELLs.”

Goals for Participants:

• Examine beliefs and expectations about mathematics and English learners.
• Recognize critical features of effective mathematics instruction that also support English language development.
• Identify data sources to measure the effectiveness of math instruction of English learners.
Learn about critical features of effective delivery models for English learners.

Register online via the MDE Calendar. For assistance with questions, contact Sue Wygant.

Minnesota Board of Teaching – edTPA Support

The Minnesota Board of Teaching is committed to ensuring that our students are served by well prepared and highly effective teachers. As an integral part of this commitment, the board strongly supports the use of the edTPA teacher performance assessment to better prepare Minnesota teachers for classroom instruction and the promotion of student growth. Schools and school districts are asked to join the effort to support teacher candidates who will be completing the edTPA process. Please take time to read the latest communication from the Board of Teaching by visiting their website. Visit the MN edTPA website for additional resources and information for district use.

2014 Doodle 4 Google Competition

Once a year, Google invites K-12 students across the United States for the chance to have their very own Google doodle showcased on through the Doodle 4 Google competition.

This year’s Doodle 4 Google competition theme is, “If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place….” Creating the best doodle comes with major perks: In addition to seeing their doodle displayed on the Google homepage after the competition closes, the winner will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant for their school. The winner will also become an honorary Google doodler for a day and animate their doodle with the Google team in Mountain View.

Students can submit doodles until Thursday, March 20, 2014, and Google will announce a winner from every state on April 29. The national winner’s animated doodle will be live on for one day in June. Read more information, including the contest rules and submission forms, at