30 States, Including Minnesota, Submit ESSA Plans to USDE

On Monday, 30 states, including Minnesota, turned in their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability plans to the US Department of Education (USDE) in the second and final deadline. Four states—Florida, Texas, and South Carolina—received extensions for later this fall due to the recent hurricanes, and last April sixteen states and the District of Columbia turned in their ESSA state plans to USDE.

Minnesota’s accountability plan is the culmination of the work that the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) engaged in for the past 21 months. According to Commissioner Cassellius, “Our state plan was created with input from thousands of educators, parents and community members and is grounded in our goal that every child has access to an education that celebrates a student’s unique assets, works to overcome barriers to learning and helps every child reach their full potential.”

Specifically, MDE held over 300 statewide stakeholder engagement meetings, and also formed five ESSA committees that were comprised of a wide range of stakeholders, including educators, students, families, professors, and policy advocates. Education Evolving has extensively covered the state’s ESSA accountability plan development process, as well as reported in detail on several components of the plan.

In a letter to education stakeholders, Commissioner Cassellius outline some of the changes that were made to the plan, in response to public feedback, since it was posted in August, and since we last reported on its contents:

  • Title 1, Part A: Access to Educators, School Condition and School Transitions: Added language around how MDE will support district and charter schools in providing “effective transitions for students and families to successfully transition between early childhood and K-12 schools.”
  • Title 1, Part A: Accountability: Provided more clarity around MDE’s desire to align ESSA and the World’s Best Workforce (WBWF). Specifically, MDE noted that they have more work to do around the school readiness goal currently in WBWF, and also indicated their desire to “expand the use of the kindergarten entry profile statewide.”
  • Title 1, Part A: Accountability: MDE note that they would “continue to examine options and opportunities” for using in-school suspension data in a “meaningful way” within the school quality or student success (SQ/SS) indicator.
  • Title 1, Part A: School Support and Improvement: The plan clarified that all schools that are identified for targeted support and improvement will “assess and address resource inequities as part of the required needs assessment and improvement process.”
  • Title II, Part A: Supporting Effective Instruction: MDE updated this section to include how MDE will assist with improving the skills of educators, and in particular the trainings they are doing for early care and early education teachers who are working with English language learners.

For an overview of the changes MDE made to the plan, read here.

What’s Next for Minnesota’s ESSA Accountability Plan?

USDE has 120 days to respond to MDE’s state plan, which will be implemented during the 2018-19 academic year. Given that USDE has approved all of the submitted state plans, even if they did not necessarily include some of the changes that USDE requested in their official feedback, it seems unlikely that MDE’s plan won’t be approved. Additionally, in a recent interview, Secretary DeVos noted that she is encouraging states “not to err on the side of caution, but to really push and go up to the line, test how far it takes to go over it.”

Education Evolving will continue to follow and report on Minnesota’s ESSA state accountability plan. In October, look for a post regarding some of the more innovative state accounting plans, and recommendations for how MDE could possibly improve and build upon the state’s accountability plan in the future.

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