AccountabilityQuality Teachers

Rural Education Well Represented on State Work Groups

By January 6, 2015 No Comments

by Fred Nolan, MREA Executive Director

The 2014 legislature called for two Working Groups and Task Forces to meet between legislative sessions to make reports to the legislature regarding education-specific topics. There are now four active working groups at the state level with MREA representatives from throughout Minnesota providing voice for the needs of education in rural Minnesota.

Testing Advisory Work Group

This fall, Governor Dayton tasked Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius with convening a Testing Reduction Advisory Group to provide a foundation for discussion and make recommendations to reduce testing. The group will look at streamlining the assessment system while still maintaining high standards for Minnesota students.

Lee Carlson, Teacher and Continuing Improvement Specialist at Northside Elementary School in St. James, is the MREA Representative to this group. Sherri Dahl, representing MDE’s Local Assessment and Accountability Advisory Committee (LAAAC), is from MREA member district Red Lake. Learn more on the work group and its reports.

The group’s next meeting is January 13. Carlson invites your comments and suggestions. Please contact him directly with your input at

Teacher Development and Evaluation/Alternative Teacher Professional Pay System (ATPPS) Alignment Work Group

This group has reviewed issues related to aligning program requirements in statute, funding for Minnesota’s alternative teacher professional pay system (ATPPS), and the teacher development and evaluation (TDE) program.

Ben Barton, Superintendent at Caledonia Schools, was the MREA Representative on this work group. Also participating were Pam Daly, Instructional Coach from MREA member district Detroit Lakes, and Michelle Krell, Elementary Principal from MREA member district Kasson-Mantorville.

This group has completed its work and provided their alignment and funding recommendations to Commissioner Cassellius for her consideration. The work group’s #1 recommendation is for the Legislature to combine the TDE and ATPPS programs into one program under the provisions of Minnesota Statutes, sections 120A.40 and 41. The group is calling for equal funding for all districts at the level currently available under Minnesota Statutes, section 120A.415, ($169 per pupil in state aid, and the ability to levy an additional $91 per pupil).

The Commissioner is to provide her recommendations to the legislature by Feb. 1.

Multi-Tiered System of Early Intervention and Instructional Support

The 2014 Legislature tasked the Commissioner to create a work group to develop recommendations for improving the academic performance of underachieving students through a multi-tiered system of early intervention and instructional support. The group’s recommendations must be consistent with Minnesota Statutes, section 125A.56.

This work group is being co-chaired by two MREA members: Lee Carlson, St. James, and Julia Espe, Superintendent at Princeton Public Schools. Carlson is representing MREA and Espe is representing the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA). Tonya Pearson, Reading Recovery Teacher from MREA member district Brainerd, is also on the committee.

This Work Group’s next meeting is scheduled for January 9.Learn more on the work and reports.

Test Policies and Procedures Committee

This fall, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) established a Test Policies and Procedures Committee (TPPC). Developed in response to the recent spate of cheating scandals in major U.S. cities including Atlanta, Philadelphia and St. Louis, the committee is focusing on test security and administration. The committee’s next meeting is January 7 and has meetings scheduled into June 2015.

Sharon Borgert, District Assessment Coordinator and Curriculum Coordinator for MREA member district Eden Valley-Watkins, is the MREA Representative to this committee. Darcy Josephson, District Assessment Coordinator from MREA member district Redwood Area, is also on the committee. The committee’s materials are not yet available on the MDE web site.