Innovation and ESSA Provisions in the K-12 Conference Bill

On Tuesday, the K-12 Conference Committee discussed an Education Omnibus Bill. At the meeting, a delete all amendment was presented and Commissioner Cassellius gave comments. We are now waiting for the Committee to reconvene to discuss and possibly entertain amendments before it is adopted. Noticeably absent is the overhaul of the teacher licensure system, which will instead be a “stand alone bill.”

Below we have summarized provisions in the Bill that are related to the themes of this blog: innovation, charter schools, and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state accountability plan.

Innovation Provisions

Innovation Research Zones Pilot Program (Lines 63.16-63.7): The purpose of the innovation zones (IZ) are to “allow school districts and charter schools to research and implement innovative education programming models designed to better prepare students for the world of the 21st century.”

Specifically, the Pilot Program would create the opportunity for public schools and other partner organizations to join together to form an IZ partnership. Schools in those partnerships can receive statutory flexibility that makes it easier to implement innovative programs like personalized learning, multidisciplinary models, and competency-based progression.

The IZs were championed by Education Evolving, the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, the Association of Metropolitan School Districts, and the Minnesota School Boards Association, with the support of Schools for Equity in Education and Ed Allies.

Rural Career and Technical Education (CTE) Consortium Grants (Lines 69.12-70.27): The bill creates a grant program for “rural CTE consortia” which will, among other requirements, develop new CTE programs that focus on sectors in the industry that fuel rural regional economy, improve access to CTE programs for students in sparsely populated rural school districts, and provide capital start-up costs for items like a mobile welding lab.

E-Learning Days (Lines 1.19-2.17): An “E-learning day” plan may be adopted by a district school board or charter school, after consultation with the appropriate teacher group. The plans can include up to five “E-learning days” and would allow schools to offer their students access to online instruction when there is inclement weather.

Alternative Teacher Preparation Grant Program (Lines 56.28-58.18): The commissioner, in consultation with the Board of Teaching, must establish and administer a program that awards grants annually to eligible alternative teacher preparation programs that are working to fill the state’s teacher shortage areas.

Grow Your Own new teacher programs (Lines 78.9-78.31): The bill allocates $1.5 million in grants, for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, for school districts that have Grow Your Own teacher programs. The grants are dedicated for school districts serving more than 30 percent students of color, that have Board of Teaching approved non-conventional teacher residency pilot programs.

Charter Provisions

School Readiness Aid (Lines 123.4-123.9): Charter schools would now be eligible for School Readiness Aid. The bill also extends the admission and enrollment requirements for charter schools to apply to preschool and prekindergarten students (Lines 53.31-54.33).

PSEO and Building Lease Aid (Lines 56.6-56.11): A provision would allow a charter school’s building lease aid to count the pupil units for the portion of the day that enrolled students are participating in Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO). Previously, charter schools had not received building lease aid for their enrolled students who participated in PSEO.

ESSA State Accountability Plan

The bill mandates (Lines 67.4-68.2) that the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) submit the ESSA state accountability plan to the legislature’s education policy and finance committees at least 30 days before submitting the plan to the US Department of Education.

The bill also mandates that the plan’s school quality or student success (SQ/SS) indicator be academic. This directive contrasts the innovative opportunity for the indicator to include non-academic measures (ex. chronic absenteeism and student engagement) in the accountability system by which schools can be measured. The bill provides examples of possible SQ/SS measures, like science proficiency or third grade reading proficiency.

Education Evolving will continue to follow and report on the development of the K-12 Education Omnibus Bill.

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