The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) submitted the state’s ESSA plan to the U.S. Department of Education (USODE) on Sept. 18. Following 18 months of planning and during the 30-day comment period, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius wrote in a letter to stakeholders that MDE, “heard loud and clear the importance of an equitable and excellent education for every student in Minnesota.” 

A major change from Minnesota’s waiver is that MDE estimates that between 300-400 schools will be “identified for support” through the accountability portion of the ESSA plan, and approximately 200 will be high schools.

This represents about 20 percent of all public schools in Minnesota. This is far more than in the current waiver which had very few high schools identified for support.

The accountability methodology is done through stages, not one overall score.  MDE expects to identify these “schools identified for support” in 2018 prior to the 2018-19 school year.  The data used for identification is on a three-year average, so two of the three years are already ‘baked in.’  School leaders should become knowledgeable of this new accountability system and how it may apply to their school and district. 

MREA will host a virtual meeting on ESSA on Oct. 9 from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm.  Michael Diedrich of MDE who was very involved in the planning process, will highlight the features of the plan, what to expect in 2018, and take your questions.  Register here.

Here are more ways to learn about the ESSA plan and what to expect in 2018:

  • Read the 16-page ESSA State Plan Executive Summary. It is very well done.
  • Read pp. 3-5 of the Commissioner’s   letter to stakeholders if you are familiar with the draft plan from August 1 and just want to know what changes were made to the plan in September.
  • Immerse yourself in all the details of the plan and supporting documents on the MDE website.

 USDOE now has 120 days to respond to the state’s plan.  Minnesota can expect a final answer by mid-January.