MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail

January 23, 2014


2013 Minnesota Student Survey Provides Insight into Attitudes and Behaviors of Young People

Minnesota students are planning to attend college in greater numbers, are drinking less soda and alcohol, are smoking less marijuana and fewer cigarettes, and about 82 percent of high-school juniors in Minnesota reported spending some time texting on typical school days. These are just some of the findings of the just-released 2013 Minnesota Student Survey. Read the January 21 press release.


Weather-Related School Closures

Many school districts have had additional closures this week due to the unusually cold conditions statewide. We have received a number of questions about adjusting the spring testing window to accommodate for lost instructional time.

The spring testing window opens on March 10 and closes May 9, and is designed to provide maximum flexibility to accommodate for unforeseen circumstances, such as weather-related closures. No changes to the window have been made. For additional information on the spring testing window, visit the Minnesota Tests section of the MDE website. (

Decisions about calendar changes and making up for closures are up to each local district. For information on instructional hour requirements, please refer to the memo from Tom Melcher that was sent to superintendents on January 3. We will continue to evaluate this as circumstances change.

World’s Best Workforce Update

Building the Workforce of the Future.

From the Minnesota State Competitiveness Summit on January 22 in St. Paul:

"Minnesota's impending retirement wave and changing demographics mean that the state's future workforce will look different from that of the past. Younger workers will be from increasingly diverse backgrounds. In order to build Minnesota's future competitiveness, public and private partnerships and initiatives across sectors are working to ensure that everyone, particularly those from groups that are underrepresented in the workforce, is well prepared for the jobs of the future."

One of the five goals of the World's Best Workforce legislation is to close the student achievement gaps that are persistent in Minnesota. Developing a district action plan to effectively close the gaps and give every student the opportunity to be prepared for postsecondary training and education and be successful in the workforce is critical to the strength of the state's economy and will significantly impact the quality of the "talent pipeline" that feeds into the future workforce.

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

Pathways to Postsecondary Update

The Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) crisscrossed the state in December and January to host summits engaging secondary and postsecondary teams. Over 750 superintendents, principals, teachers, counselors, college presidents and faculty gathered together to deepen common understandings of newly-enacted legislation and to explore opportunities for new or expanded partnerships between educational systems that will better prepare our continuum of learners to be career and college-ready.

Participants had the opportunity to better understand World’s Best Workforce legislation, required college and career plans for students, aligned assessment systems, targeted interventions for foundational skills, and expansion of early college credit options. Additionally, the summit participants were able to differentiate among the dual credit/early college credit programming available in our state including Career and Technical Education (CTE), Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) and concurrent enrollment and clarify how credits transfer into the MnSCU system.

The overall response from the participants was that the summit was positive, helpful and effective in spearheading the continued planning for pathways to postsecondary and employment. View the information presented at the summits on the Ready Set Go website.

To assist in the overwhelming response to the summits and requests for further support and redesign conversations, plans for phase II are underway. Watch for more information via this mailing.

Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) – Eligibility for 10th-Graders

In 2012, new legislation (Minn. Stat. § 124D.09) was passed that allows eligible 10th-grade students to enroll in one Career and Technical Education (CTE) course through PSEO. In order to be eligible, a 10th-grade student must have taken the eighth-grade MCA reading test in the eighth grade and have met the composite proficiency level of “meets or exceeds.” If the student meets this standard, and if they meet specific CTE course eligibility requirements and pre-requisites set by the institution, they may be eligible to enroll in Career and Technical Education PSEO courses. This 10th-grade option is open only to Minnesota public school students.

View additional information about Postsecondary Enrollment Options.

View the policy and procedures for PSEO on the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system website.

District and School Site Verification – Please Review Contact Information

So that school districts and charter schools are informed of important information from the Minnesota Department of Education, we will soon be updating our superintendent e-mail listserv. This listserv is used for sending the MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail and any other special mailings (including urgent messages) from Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. This is a good time for district and school site verification coordinators to review and update their school and district contact information if any changes have ocurred recently.

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.