MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail

April 10, 2014

New Blog!

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has a launched a brand new blog to promote education throughout the state. Blog posts will take many different forms, including updates on important work being done at MDE, interviews with education leaders and fun posts about current events on which we can offer an education angle. If you have an idea from your district for the blog, please email Keith Hovis. Check out BloggED on our website!


Statement from Commissioner Cassellius on Passage of Safe and Supportive Schools Act

Yesterday, Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius released the following statement after Governor Mark Dayton signed the Safe and Supportive Schools Act:

“Today, I stand with students, parents, and educators across the state to say thank you to Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature for supporting and passing the Safe and Supportive Schools Act. All of our students deserve safe and supportive places where they can learn, thrive and succeed. With Governor Dayton’s signature, Minnesota will no longer have one of the weakest anti-bullying laws in the nation, but instead will have a law that states clearly that Minnesotans are committed toward putting our students’ safety first.” Visit BloggED: Building a Better Minnesota for our Students.

Watch for additional information from MDE about this act and how the department will support districts in its implementation.

Commissioner Cassellius to Highlight Early Childhood Investments in Chaska

Commissioner Cassellius continues her statewide tour visiting early learning programs. Read April 8 press release.

Grants Awarded to Strengthen College and Career Preparation

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan and St. Paul school districts were awarded Youth CareerConnect grants from the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education. Read April 7 press release.


Online Staff Development Reporting Site Open for 2013-14 Data Entry

School districts are required to report staff development activities and expenditures for both their district and school sites. School districts using state staff development revenue under Minnesota Statutes, section 126C.10, Subdivision 2, and Minnesota Statutes, section 122A.61, must use the state-designated reporting format to submit a copy of their annual staff development report to the commissioner of Education. All districts, including those not reserving funds, must complete a program report. Access the Staff Development Report site to begin completing the district and school sites report.

If you need further assistance, you may direct your questions regarding:

· Staff Development Online Report to Michael Foster.
· General staff development questions to Deborah Luedtke.

Review of Education-Related Mandates

Minnesota Statutes, section 127A.05, Subdivision 2, requires the Department of Education to review all education-related mandates in state law or rule once every four years “to determine which mandates fail to adequately promote public education in the state.” These findings are reported to the legislature. To prepare the report, your help is requested in identifying any such mandates of which you are aware that impact your program area. Department staff and leaders of major education organizations in the state will also be contacted for their feedback. View the 2010 Report to the Legislature.

Please take some time to consider whether you are aware of any Minnesota statutes or rules that might be mandates, including mandates that should be repealed because they do not promote public education in Minnesota and mandates that you consider unfunded. Feel free to forward this notice to your staff or anyone else that may wish to respond to this request.

Your response is requested by Friday, April 18, so that the legislative report can be completed in a timely manner. Thank you in advance for your assistance! Please respond to Kerstin Forsythe ( For assistance with questions, you may contact her at 651-582-8583.


Teacher Development and Evaluation – Informational Webinars

District and charter design teams consisting of district and teacher leadership are working on local plans to meet the teacher development and evaluation requirements in Minnesota Statutes, sections 122A.40 and 122A.41. To support their work, Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) staff will conduct a series of informational webinars to help district teams finish design of local models and plan for implementation in school year 2014-15.

Each webinar, unless otherwise noted, will last one hour and includes fifteen minutes for questions from participants. The planned session dates and topics are:

· Thursday, April 24, 3-4 p.m. – Lessons from the Pilot of the State Model
· Thursday, May 1, 3-4 p.m. – Student Learning Goals
· Tuesday, May 6, 3-4 p.m. – Student Engagement – Surveys and Other Measures
· Tuesday, May 13, 3-4 p.m. – Statutory Q&A and Updates

View further information, including webinar descriptions on the Educator Evaluation Web page.

Register online (

Contact Tyler Livingston (651-582-8427) with questions or topic suggestions.

Full-Day Kindergarten Implementation Seminar – May 20, 2014

Save the Date! More than Hours: Creating Differentiated Kindergarten Environments that Build Knowledge and Skills for All Students

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is hosting a seminar May 20, 2014, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., featuring Dr. Sharon Ritchie from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina. The goal is to assist school districts and charter schools on effective practices for full-day kindergarten implementation, with a special emphasis on working with culturally and linguistically diverse students and students in poverty. This seminar will focus on research-based practices for scheduling and designing an optimum learning environment for full-day kindergarten. Key strategies for maximizing effective learning, including using a blend of teacher facilitated, child initiated, and peer-to-peer learning across content areas will be presented.

Registration information will be posted on the MDE Calendar of Workshops, Trainings, and Meetings the week of April 14. CEUs will be available for participants. For additional information, contact Debbykay Peterson (

FREE GIS Mapping Workshops for K-12 Teachers – Summer 2014

Learn how your students can use map-based data to investigate questions in social studies, science and other content areas. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has worked with ESRI to develop a statewide license for K-12 education in Minnesota allowing teachers, administrators and clubs to utilize professional mapping software FREE for instructional purposes (ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Online).

Spatial education and geographic information systems (GIS) are now part of Minnesota State Social Studies Standards.

· Standard 1: People use geographic representations and geospatial technologies to acquire process and report information within a spatial context.
· Standard 2: Geographic inquiry is a process in which people ask geographic questions and gather, organize and analyze information to solve problems and plan for the future. Mapping benchmarks are found in grades 4, 6 and 7. GIS is specified in 8th grade and high school benchmarks. GIS also supports standards in other content areas, especially science, mathematics and CTE.

To help develop skills for teachers to utilize in their classrooms, the Department of Education is partnering with GIS professionals around the State to host free ArcGIS workshops. The workshops will be offered at various locations and dates in June and July 2014. Attending a workshop will provide a teacher with the basics of geographic spatial thinking, what is GIS and how ArcGIS Online can be used by teachers and students to quickly and easily develop map products. The workshop will include hands-on exercises and a round-robin discussion. CEUs will be available. Click to access the workshop signup schedule and registration information.

For assistance with questions, contact Scott Freburg (651-582-8789). Additional information may be found on the Geographic Information Systems in K-12 Web page.


Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program – Application now Available

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), Division of Safety, Health and Nutrition, will be soliciting applications for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) from school food service authorities of elementary schools. The award period is anticipated to be July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015.

Eligible applicants must: 1) Be an elementary school; and 2) Participate in the National School Lunch Program; and 3) Have at least 50 percent or more of its student’s eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Priority will be given to schools with the highest level of free and reduced-price enrollment. Recipients of the FFVP will offer free fresh fruits and vegetables as healthy snack options to elementary school children during the school day. This program creates healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices, expands the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience, increases children’s fruit and vegetable consumption, and makes a difference in children’s diets to impact their present and future health. Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture FFVP website for more information on the program.

Access the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Application Instructions SY 14-15 on the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Web page. Application is available through the Cyber-Linked Interactive Child Nutrition System (CliCS) website.

Applications are due May 2, 2014, Midnight, Central Time.

For assistance with questions, contact Sami Beilke (, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program coordinator, 651-582-8376, toll free at 1-800-366-8922.

Minnesota Computers for Schools – Monthly Promotion

Minnesota Computers for Schools refurbishes donated computers and provides them to schools at a minimal charge. Learn about their monthly discounts on the Minnesota Computers for Schools website.