Press Releases

For Immediate Release: January 7, 2013 Contact: Keith Hovis (651) 582-8275

Minnesota Department of Education Issues Guidance for Early Learning Programs in Charter Schools

ROSEVILLE – In its continued efforts to ensure high quality early learning opportunities for all students, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has issued early learning program guidance for charter schools and authorizers. The new guidance provides information that will effectively communicate opportunities, instructions and accountability expectations for charter schools seeking official recognition of their instructional programs for three to five-year-olds.

“High quality early learning programs are the foundation of a child’s education,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. “With the new guidance, we are providing better access to effective early learning opportunities for more students while ensuring every public school in Minnesota is held to consistent high standards.”

Until now the department has not officially recognized early learning programs in charter schools. By issuing the guidance, MDE will establish the foundation necessary to identify charter schools that are already providing excellent early learning opportunities, while also identifying and sharing best practices with other charter schools looking to develop their own programs. This guidance for charter schools is consistent with classroom requirements and teacher knowledge for early learning programs run by traditional school districts.

The new guidance also means charter schools will have unprecedented access to available resources. A program recognized by MDE may be eligible to receive funding for the Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge incentives, state charter school lease aid, and access to state and federal early learning scholarships.

The department also reinforces the expectation that charter school authorizers are responsible for overseeing all programs implemented within a charter school, including early learning programs. Authorizers will take the lead in requesting official recognition of a charter schools’ early learning programs whether through the department's new charter school affidavit process or supplemental affidavit process. Once recognized, all early learning programs must be included in the authorizer's contract with the school.

For more information, visit > Student Success > Enrollment Choices > Charter Schools.