MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail

March 14, 2014

Commissioner’s Dialogue with Superintendents – March 19

The monthly conference calls with Commissioner Brenda Cassellius are one of the best ways to stay informed about each other’s work and continue an open dialogue. Superintendents are invited to participate in the next monthly dialogue via audio conference call on Wednesday, March 19, 9:30-10:30 a.m. You will receive call-in instructions on Monday.

The call schedule is as follows: March 19, April 16 and May 21. All are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. Call-in instructions will be sent prior to each call.


World’s Best Work Force Update

In the past month, districts have received communications from the commissioner regarding the progress of Minnesota’s students in the areas of achievement gap closure and, more recently, graduation rates. Both of these communications, in addition to recent good news about NAEP and ACT results, pointed out the encouraging news that Minnesota students are headed in the right direction.

However, there are still too many students not graduating from our high schools on time and we still have too many achievement disparities between our various student groups in the state.

With this in mind, as districts are reviewing their World’s Best Workforce plans and looking ahead to next school year, the data on graduation and achievement gap closure are directly tied to three of the five critical goals of the legislation. Districts can start using this data now to set goals for next school year as well as measuring the progress their students make during the 2013-14 school year. You are encouraged to share this data with your community partners and parents to inform them of the successes as well as the challenges that your students face and together, engage in rich conversations about the strategies that will drive the focus of next year’s plan.

Starting these discussions now is not too early to plan for next year. Deep, thoughtful planning is required to truly “move the needle” and provide a system that will ensure success for every student.

To gain further insight in how to message the achievement gap data and learn how districts are addressing this important goal, superintendents and district leaders are invited to the first ever Achievement Gap Summit on March 21. (See notice below.)

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

Achievement Gap Summit – March 21, 2014

Nearly two years ago, Minnesota set a goal in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Flexibility Waiver to reduce the achievement gap by 50 percent by 2017. Minnesota established annual targets up until 2017 in reading and math for all student groups, including American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, black, white, free/reduced-price lunch, special education and English learners. Each district and school has their own unique targets based on the number of students in each grade level enrolled for the full academic year within these student groups. The proficiency index rates of the Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR) measures school performance against the targets.

On February 10, district superintendents each received a letter from the commissioner outlining their district’s progress to meet the 2017 goal. Now, school superintendents and other district personnel are invited to a professional conversation about the achievement gap. On Friday, March 21, please join this conversation to gather more information on your data as well as learn about technical assistance opportunities from Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) staff. MDE staff will share information regarding available support to districts including the areas of English learners, special education, academic standards, data analysis and the Regional Centers of Excellence.

Participants will also be able to hear from their colleagues about specific efforts their districts are making to close the achievement gap and raise student achievement for all students. The Summit is scheduled for 9 a.m. -12 p.m. on March 21 at the TIES building, 1667 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108. To RSVP, please contact Maria Vincent.

We hope you can join us in this opportunity to focus as a state on this issue. Thank you again for the work you do every day on behalf of Minnesota students.

Regional Centers of Excellence (RCEs) – Expanding the Network from Three to Six

In 2011 the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) launched three RCEs in collaboration with three service cooperatives to establish a consistent, cohesive regional delivery system to provide effective, efficient and equitable access to the Statewide System of Support (SSOS) for all for Focus and Priority schools.

Following the first year of implementation, approximately three-quarters of the Focus and Priority schools working with RCE SSOS staff made progress toward improved student outcomes. One-third of the schools made enough growth to be released from their status as Focus or Priority schools, and several achieved gains that earned them recognition as Celebration or Reward Schools. For more information, read the November 25 press release.

In light of this compelling positive impact on student learning, the Minnesota Legislature established a statute in 2013 to expand the RCE network, to enable this innovative partnership to have even greater impact on improved student outcomes in Minnesota.

This legislation (Minn. Stat. § 120B.115) states that the RCEs will “…assist and support school boards, school districts, school sites, and charter schools in implementing research interventions and practices to increase the students' achievement within a region...” and increases the number of centers from three to six. Three additional service cooperatives in Mountain Iron, Fergus Falls and Marshall are in the process of being launched. In the coming weeks and months, services in areas such as family and community engagement, transition planning for high school students, dropout prevention, implementation of academic standards, and the World’s Best Work Force efforts will be made available throughout the state.

Educators wishing to receive more information regarding the services and support offered in the RCEs are encouraged to visit the Regional Centers of Excellence Web page, or contact Anne Lundquist, RCE coordinator, at 651-582-8318.


Science District Leader Network – Invitation to Participate

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) invites district level staff with responsibility for district science leadership to participate in the Science District Leader Network. This includes science program leaders, curriculum coordinators, and teachers on special assignment who oversee science curriculum, instruction or assessment. The network will meet approximately six times per year for three-hour sessions, which will include discussion of science education topics and sharing of resources. The next meeting will be held Monday, March 24, 9 a.m. – noon, at MDE. The focus topic is district and state-wide science assessment. To register for this free event or to be included in notifications of future events, contact John Olson, science content specialist.

Minnesota eLearning Summit – July 30-31, 2014

Registration is open! Minnesota’s eLearning Summit 2014 will be held July 30-31 at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul.

The Summit:

• You and your colleagues are invited to join the conversations surrounding Open. Online. Opportunity as the MN eLearning Summit once again brings together K-12 and post-secondary educators, public and private sectors throughout the state and beyond.

• You will have opportunity to explore "all things digital" when it comes to online learning, electronic portfolios, digital resources, you name it.

• You will engage in presentations and conversations that promote the use of technology in teaching and learning.

Keynote Speakers:

• Cable Green is an advocate for open policies that promote free and open education materials and will be presenting on Open, Online and Digital: the Opportunity.
Robbie Melton is a mobile education innovator and will present on Education On-Demand – In your Hands. Learn about the latest innovation and best practices regarding the use of mobile devises, apps, emerging technologies for enhancing teaching and learning in higher education.

Call for Proposals: Submit your presentation idea for the Summit today at Conference Call for Proposals. Proposal deadline: March 31, 2014. For assistance with questions regarding session proposals, contact Mary Mehsikomer, TIES, or Deborah Proctor, MDE.

Register: Early bird registration is available until April 30. Summit session presenters, K-12 educators, and students (bachelors, masters, doctoral) are eligible for significant discounts and scholarships. Register for the summit.

Group Rates: Because your institution will benefit most from Summit information when a team of colleagues attend the Summit together, we provide group discounts (teams of five or more.) Please plan now to register as an institution team for Summit 2014.  

Conference registration includes access to all Summit events, materials, meals, and parking. Inexpensive on-campus lodging is also available on the host-university campus for those outside of the metro area. For more information, visit the Minnesota e-Learning Summit website.