Education Committees in both the House and Senate focused on Minnesota achievement gaps on Friday and heard how difficult it is for even the highest performing schools to close a gap once it starts.

The whole House held an all-day “Bridging the Gap” symposium led by the education and early learning committees.  Legislators began the day exploring the changing demographics, the complexities of those changes, and the effects on achievement. Then, they looked at solutions, including the proposed constitutional amendment, the promise of early learning, the Reinventing Minnesota initiative, and community schools.  Learn more   View video

Minnesota children of color has jumped to 31 percent today from 2 percent in 1960.

Don’t let an achievement gap start, because it is so hard to close it, was the main point made by Geoffre Naegle of the Erickson Institute. He started with a brief history of germ theory, then brain development, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and concluded with data on just how hard it is to close a two-year learning gap at for five year olds.

  • The top 20% of schools can close a half of a year by grade 6.
  • The top 3% of schools close one year gap with six years of academic learning in five years.
  • For students who fall two years behind, it takes an insane eight years of academic learning to have 90% proficiency in five years.

“If you were building the school system today, would you start at age 5?” he asked.

For anyone interested in education, the video of his 30-minute presentation is well worth the time.  It starts 31 minutes into this video link. This argument will certainly be part of the case House Leadership will use to promote their $500 m early learning proposal found in HF 1.

Taking Action

The Senate held a two-hour hearing on the proposed Constitutional Amendment SF 3977.  The committee heard from the proponents, opponent or those with questions, including MREA, Home School Association, Ed Minnesota, Katherine Kersten, MSBA, and MASA.  The E-12 Committee members all commented. View MREA’s initial response to the amendment.

Each member generally agreed with the goals of the amendment to close the achievement gap, but not one endorsed the amendment as a way to move forward. Learn more