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StudentsFirst Gives Minnesota a "D"

By January 10, 2013 No Comments

StudentsFirst, a national ‘education reform’ organization founded by Michelle Rhee, formerly Superintendent of Washington DC Public Schools, has issued report cards on all 50 states. StudentsFirst gave Minnesota a D in educational policies. MREA profiled StudentsFirst this past summer.

Joe Nathan, a long time Minnesota education reformer and charter advocate, described Rhee as “blunt, controversial, and … sometimes wrong” in his Jan. 11 piece, Improvements needed, but Minnesota school reform improvement efforts do not deserve a D. Read more about the criteria and MREA’s position.

When groups issue report cards, it is important to go beyond the headline and determine if the grading criteria are what the subject of the grade should know or do. In this case, if Minnesota were to achieve an A, would our education system be better than today—which is not bad as judged by TIMSS.

Here’s what the StudentsFirst criteria reveals:

  • To get an A in Elevate Teaching, the state’s policy would need to include annual, comprehensive teacher evaluation based on multiple measures, including 50 percent on student growth.
  • For an A in Empower parents, Minnesota’s annual school report cards that include an A–F letter grade based on student achievement and a student scholarship program limited to low-income students in low-performing schools or districts;
  • For an A in Spend wisely and govern well, the state would need to allow for full state control of low-performing schools and/or districts and full mayoral control of low performing districts.

Each of these A level criteria are questionable as to whether they will contribute to increased student achievement and have had mixed results when tried in other states. Joe Nathan was particularly taken aback by the D- for Parent Empowerment when as he put it, Minnesota is “home of Post-Secondary Options, open enrollment, charter public schools, and options created by local districts.”

StudentsFirst new Minnesota Director is Kathy Saltzman, a former state senator. Hopefully she can pick and choose among the recommendations of Students First, find and promote those with incontrovertible research and bring to Students First a positive voice and role in improving Minnesota’s education of our youth. Get the full report from StudentsFirst.