Kelly Young of Education Reimagined on Paradigm Shift Toward Learner-Centered Education

Help us kick off a new series on Thursday, October 13, with breakfast with Kelly Young, Executive Director of the DC-based Education Reimagined. Come hear about their work to shift the paradigm in American education toward learner-centered learning—that is, learning that is personalized, relevant, socially-embedded, competency-based, and open-walled.

At Third Teacher-Powered Conference, Flipping Education System is Possible

Designing for Success conference banner

The first weekend of December, more than 320 educators and supporters convened in Boston for the third Teacher-Powered Schools National Conference. Designing for Success, the theme of the sold out 2018 gathering, was tailored to attendees interested in professionalizing teacher roles and moving school decisions and design toward those closest to the students—teachers.

For attendees, the conference was a welcome chance to build relationships with teacher-powered peers from around the country and learn from one another.

“Knowing others think, believe, and know that ‘flipping’ a system is possible ... brings me to a new place today. Thank you for being the group that has me waking up today with a refreshing outlook of hope,” said Julene Oxton, co-founder of Impact Academy in Lakeville, MN, in addressing fellow conference-goers. Other attendees expressed the same sense of rejuvenation and inspiration.

Designing to meet the needs of their community

Throughout the conference, teachers told similar stories: Frustrated that traditional school models did not meet their community’s needs, teachers, parents, and community members joined together to design new schools that would. Teachers continuously design and redesign learning so that students and their families have greater agency.

A full breakout session

In the breakout sessions—presented mostly by teachers themselves—educators worked through challenges they face in designing and running schools with and for their communities. For example, sessions centered on collaborative governance and how to operate effectively and efficiently as a team; how teachers pool their collective expertise to create learning programs and make other changes that better enable their students to learn; and how teachers model democratic practices and intentionally bring underrepresented voices to the table.

In the first week back at school after the conference, teachers were already applying lessons learned.

Julie Cook and her school team, first-time conference attendees from Souderton Charter School Collaborative, used the six-hour car ride back to metropolitan Philadelphia to debrief and reflect on their positive experience. They agreed, “It was great to finally meet like-minded people.”

Deyonne Jackson of Woods Learning Center in Casper, WY described her team the morning after catching the redeye home: As they prepared to coach another team in their district moving toward being more teacher-powered, “it was so cool to hear the team engage in creating interview questions that built upon the learning they acquired at the conference.”

Attendees from a broad spectrum of backgrounds

Attendees gather in the conference ballroom

Attendees represented a broad spectrum of backgrounds: 72 percent of educators came from district schools, with 27 percent charter and 1 percent independent. Attendees from at least 26 states and the District of Columbia were present, in addition to nine international guests. 15 university researchers attended, signalling a growing interest in this innovative model for running schools.

Beyond the many teachers, the conference hosted principals; district administrators; national, state, and local union leaders; support organizations; and philanthropies.

Boston teacher-powered schools open their doors

As with the host communities for the first two conferences, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, Boston is home to many teacher-powered schools. Attendees had a special opportunity to tour some of those schools Friday, November 30 before the conference officially kicked off. Hosting tours were three high schools: Another Course to College, Boston Day and Evening Academy, and Fenway High School; and three K-8 schools: Boston Teachers Union School, Mildred Avenue K-8 School, and Mission Hill K-8 School.

“After seeing [and] hearing about so many other inspirational schools, it’s amazing to me just how differently teacher-powered looks at each school,” said Irene Salter of Chrysalis Charter School in California. “I knew that there was variation in the 15 areas of autonomy—however, there’s all sorts of other key differences that are fascinating to me.”

Teacher-Powered Schools Awards

A key feature of the conference is the presentation of the Teacher-Powered Schools Awards. The Critical Supporter Award recognizes allies who support teacher-powered schools through research and network-building, and was this year presented to Dan French, executive director of the Center for Collaborative Education. French assisted Boston Public Schools to expand its pilot model, launched the New England Small Schools Network, and created the National Turning Points Network. He helped bring about pilot schools in Los Angeles, and has worked nationally to expand collaborative leadership opportunities to other teacher teams including in Minneapolis.

Award winners from Wildlands School

The Extraordinary Achievement Awards recognize two schools—one charter, one district—who actively contribute to the national teacher-powered movement. This year’s awards were presented to Wildlands School, a charter school in rural northwest Wisconsin with a long history as a student-centered, project-based learning school led by a teacher team dedicated to meeting the needs of their students; and Urban Assembly Schools for Green Careers, a district school in New York City that converted to a teacher-powered model four years ago and has seen dramatic improvements in student achievement under the teachers’ collective leadership and learning program changes.

The 2018 Teacher-Powered Schools National Conference was made possible by sponsorship from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Bush Foundation, Boston Teachers Union, and Labrador Foundation.

The next conference will be held in Minneapolis in November 2020. Sign up for the Teacher-Powered Schools national newsletter and follow Teacher-Powered Schools on Twitter for conference updates.

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Taking a Breather

Now that it’s November, we at Education Evolving are focused on our upcoming Teacher-Powered Schools National Conference. Kicking off November 30 in Boston, the conference is the culmination of months of planning, and an opportunity to convene a national network of teachers designing and leading student-centered schools.

With that in mind, we’re taking a break from the blog until we get to the other side of this event.

While we’re out, we hope you’ll check out some of our recent publications:

  • Last week, we published our report, Defining & Measuring Student-Centered Outcomes, which reviews the outcomes that researchers, students, educators, families, and communities indicate are important, and describes the array of emerging strategies for measuring them. The report also presents a cohesive vision and specific next steps for states, school and district learning communities, and individual students and families wanting to move toward more student-centered outcomes.
  • Last month, we updated our briefing memo summarizing and analyzing school quality/student success measures selected by each state, DC, and Puerto Rico as part of their ESSA accountability plans.

We’ll get back to regular posting after the conference as we gear up for next year’s legislative session. Until then.

-The team at Education Evolving

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Defining and Measuring Student-Centered Outcomes

· October 2018 · By

To equitably prepare all students for success in the 21st century, we must define and measure broader, deeper, and more student-centered outcomes for students and schools.

In this paper, we review the outcomes that researchers, students, educators, families, and communities indicate are important, and describe the array of emerging strategies for measuring them.

Finally, the paper presents a cohesive vision and specific next steps for states; school and district learning communities; and individual students and families wanting to move forward in reimagining outcomes to be more student-centered.

PELSB Adopts Tiered Licensure Rule. Four Things You Should Know.

Last week, the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) adopted rule for the new, four-tiered teacher licensure system. This is a huge milestone in what has been a long and sometimes contentious rulemaking process. In particular, the past couple of months have been very busy for PELSB, as they have had to make rule changes to address defects found by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

1) You said the past couple of months have been very busy for PELSB. How so?

Over the past two months, PELSB has had to make changes and resubmit their rule draft to the Chief ALJ several times. A detailed timeline is below:

August 2018

  • 16th: ALJ Barbara Case found eleven defects in PELSB’s rule draft.
  • 31st: PELSB submitted rule changes to Chief ALJ Tammy Pust.

September 2018

  • 17th: Chief ALJ reports PELSB had “adequately corrected all but two of the earlier identified deficiencies.”
  • 21st: PELSB submitted revisions to address the two areas of defects—“Professional license from another state” and “Acceptable Applicant”.
  • 25th: PELSB withdrew their rule draft submission, indicating they would resubmit them after they had made further modifications.

October 2018

  • 1st: PELSB resubmitted rule draft with additional revisions.
  • 3rd: Chief ALJ ordered that PELSB has the “statutory authority to adopt the rules.”
  • 12th: PELSB adopts rule for tiered licensure.
  • 15th: Office of Administrative Hearings filed adopted rules with the Secretary of State.

2) What are some of the changes PELSB made to the rule draft?

Prior to adoption and in response to defects found by the Chief ALJ, PELSB made two changes with regard to “Acceptable Applicants” and “Professional license from another state.”

Acceptable Applicants: In statute, an individual can receive a Tier 1 license and renewals if the hiring district or charter school “was unable to hire an acceptable teacher with a Tier 2, 3, or 4 license.” In order to clarify what “acceptable teacher” means, PELSB’s June 2018 rule draft indicated that PELSB would have “sole discretion” to deny a Tier 1 licensure request.

In the August 16 report, however, the ALJ noted PELSB’s proposal to review Tier 1 applications on a “case-by-case basis” did not provide a clear standard. In her report, the ALJ provided a number of recommendations for how PELSB could rectify this defect. She concluded that whatever PELSB decided to do, they must make it clear what constitutes an unacceptable higher-tiered candidate. In the end, PELSB created and adopted a list of five items that would that would deem a Tier 2, Tier 3, or Tier 4 applicant “unacceptable”.

Professional license from another state: In the August 16 report, the ALJ found PELSB’s proposed definition for “professional license” for individuals from another state to be defective for the following reasons:

  • Appeared to require that “all out-of-state applicants have gone through a teacher preparation program” which conflicts with statute.
  • Uses terms like “conventional,” “nonconventional,” and “alternative,” which the ALJ contended are “ambiguous in this context and are not elsewhere defined.”

To address the defects, PELSB ended up using the definition the Chief ALJ recommended in her September 17 report:

“‘Professional license from another state’ means a professional teaching license issued by the responsible state agency of another state and required by law of that state for an individual to teach in a public school, but does not include an emergency, temporary, or substitute teaching license.”

3) When Will the Adopted Rule Go Into Effect?

Unless Governor Dayton vetoes the adopted tiered licensure rule, they will be effective in late October or early November. Why the delay? Even though PELSB adopted rule, there are several steps that have to occur before the adopted rules become official:

  • The Secretary of State has to send a copy of the adopted rules to the Revisor of Statutes and Governor Dayton.
  • Revisor of Statutes has to prepare an official Notice of Adoption, that they will then send to PELSB.
  • If Governor Dayton vetoes the adopted rules, he must do so within 14 days of receiving them from the Secretary of State and must publish a veto notice in the State Register.
  • If Governor Dayton does not veto the adopted rules, PESLB will publish the Notice of Adoption in the State Register.
  • The rules become effective five working days after the State Register publishes them.

4) Is PELSB Done with Rulemaking?

No, not even close. In fact, for 2019, PELSB has set a robust rulemaking schedule. Specifically, PELSB plans to do rulemaking for:

  • Teacher Preparation Unit and Program
  • Standards of Effective Practice
  • Code of Ethics
  • Teachers of Health, Physical Education, and Bilingual/Bicultural Education

Education Evolving will continue follow and report on PELSB rulemaking, particularly as it relates to teacher preparation programs and the Standards of Effective Practice.

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How States Are Innovating With Assessments Under ESSA

Earlier this week, Secretary DeVos announced the US Department of Education (USDE) had approved New Hampshire as the second state to participate in the Every Student Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) Innovative Assessment Pilot. New Hampshire joins Louisiana, which was the first state Secretary Devos approved to participate in the Pilot.

So, what is the Innovative Assessment Pilot? Like No Child Left Behind, ESSA requires states to use a statewide standardized test in grades 3-8 and once in high school for English and mathematics. However, ESSA created an opportunity for up to seven states—or groups of states—to participate in the Innovative Assessment Pilot and try new kinds of assessments in a select number of districts instead of the standardized state assessment.

The Pilot was inspired by the work New Hampshire has done since 2015 with their Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) accountability system, which they were able to do with flexibilities from the No Child Left Behind waiver.

With five slots open, USDE published a notice on September 17, inviting applications for the second round of the Innovative Assessment Pilot. The deadline is December 17, with Georgia already indicating they want to apply.

This post will provide an overview of both Louisiana and New Hampshire’s innovative assessments, as well as discuss other assessment flexibilities states are taking advantage of under ESSA.

Louisiana: English and Social Studies Innovative Assessment

On July 24, the USDE gave Louisiana the go ahead to participate in the Innovative Assessment Pilot. Initially, five school systems—Ouachita Paris, St. John the Baptist Parish, and St. Tammamy Parish, as well as KIPP Public Charter Schools and College Academies in New Orleans Parish—will participate in the Pilot. This equates to 20 high schools that serve nearly 21,000 students.

According to John White, Louisiana’s State Superintendent, “Research shows students need deep knowledge of a subject in order to effectively read about it. Louisiana’s pilot offers a unique opportunity to develop assessments that support this research.”

Key features of Louisiana’s Pilot include:

  • Streamlining state testing by combining English and social studies assessments;
  • Measuring what students have learned via passages from books students have already read, rather than passages they have not read as part of the curriculum;
  • Assessing students through several brief assessments throughout the year, instead of one longer assessment at the end of the year; and
  • Preserving local control as to which books and assessments their students will take.

Louisiana has five years to develop, pilot, and expand their Innovative Pilot.

New Hampshire Continues With Innovative PACE Accountability System

New Hampshire will not have to start its innovative assessment from scratch. As previously mentioned, New Hampshire has been doing this work since 2015. The flexibility granted to New Hampshire by USDE allows them to continue to build on this work.

In June 2017, Education Evolving and the Bush Foundation hosted two of PACE’s architects—Deputy Commissioner Paul Leather and the state’s PACE curriculum director, Ellen Hume-Howard—to discuss the innovative way they use assessments.

In the PACE pilot, students only take the reading standardized assessment in 3rd and 8th grade, the mathematics assessment in 4th and 8th grade, and the SAT in 11th grade. In the other years, students take common PACE performance-based assessments. Hume-Howard provided several examples of these assessments, which range in topics from a “Speed Stacking Challenge,” where students connect real-world experiences to their math work with decimals, to first-person narrative journals where students write about how their character deals with social issues.

At the event, Deputy Commissioner Leather contended that one of the exciting things about PACE is not necessarily that the standardized testing is reduced, but rather that the performance-based assessments that replace them are seamlessly integrated into the curriculum. Hume-Howard drove this point home, “Our assessments are not events.”

Other Assessment Flexibility Opportunities in ESSA

ESSA created a couple of other opportunities for all states—even those who did not apply for one of the 7 waivers described above—to engage in assessment flexibilities.

One of the flexibilities are interim assessments. Under ESSA, states are allowed to use multiple assessments through an academic year, rather than just a single summative assessment. According to Measured Progress, “...a state or consortium of states could be truly innovative by implementing a two-component assessment system consisting of, for example, curriculum-embedded performance assessments and a shortened end-of-year summative assessment.”

However, no states have decided to use this flexibility. Why? According to Kirsten Carr, senior program director at the Council of Chief State School Officers, many states had spent most of their time drafting and submitting their accountability plans, leaving them with little room to try changing their assessments. Now that all states’ plans have been approved, they can turn their attention to thinking about the various testing options that ESSA allows for.

Another assessment flexibility creates the opportunity for states to allow individual districts to opt-out of their state’s high school standardized assessment and instead use a “nationally recognized” high school assessment, like the ACT or SAT. However, North Dakota is currently the only state that has received USDE approval and allows districts to use the ACT instead of its state assessment.

Several states have had problems with getting USDE approval. Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Connecticut tried to get this flexibility, but were denied by USDE because of “insufficient alignment” with their standards.

Oklahoma initially took another route and decided to end its required high school end-of-course assessments, and was going to allow districts to choose between the ACT and SAT. However, USDE said that, because of concerns with comparability, the state had to choose one assessment as its “default”. Oklahoma chose the SAT.

Minnesota is currently exploring this assessment flexibility for the ACT.

Found this useful? Questions? Sign up to receive Education Evolving blog posts by email or contact the author, Krista Kaput at Also, stay tuned for our upcoming paper on defining and measuring student-centered outcomes, coming October 2018.

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MDE Identifies Schools for Support Under New ESSA Plan. What Does That Entail?

On August 30, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released the first round of 485 schools identified to receive support under the state’s new North Star accountability system, as required by the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Specifically, schools can be identified for comprehensive support, targeted support, or more general support from MDE.

Immediately following the release, news coverage spoke about the new accountability system overall, provided names of the identified schools, and highlighted the state’s unchanging and persistent achievement gaps.

And while the data release and identified schools received widespread coverage, there was little said about what actual supports the schools will receive from MDE and, more specifically, the Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE).

This post will provide an overview of the processes for identifying schools for support and MDE’s RCEs, as well as a deep dive into the two main levels of school support—comprehensive and targeted support.

How Are Schools Identified for Support? Glad You Asked.

As we have previously written, MDE used a three-stage process for identifying most schools for support. The processes are somewhat different between elementary/middle schools and high schools because they use different indicators in the second stage. The processes are described below.

Elementary/Middle Schools

  • Stage 1: Title I schools in the bottom twenty-five percent in proficiency for at least one of the academic indicators—mathematics achievement, reading achievement, and/or progress towards EL proficiency—were moved onto Stage 2.
  • Stage 2: Title I schools in the bottom twenty-five percent for either mathematics growth or reading growth were moved onto Stage 3.
  • Stage 3: Consistent attendance (aka chronic absenteeism) was used to identify the lowest 5% of Title 1 elementary and middle schools.

High Schools

  • Stage 1: Title I schools in the bottom twenty-five percent for proficiency in at least one of the academic indicators—mathematics achievement, reading achievement, and/or progress towards EL proficiency—were moved onto Stage 2.
  • Stage 2A: Title I high schools in the bottom half according to their four-year graduation rates were moved onto to Stage 2B.
  • Stage 2B: Title I high schools in the bottom half according to their seven-year graduation rates were moved onto Stage 3.
  • Stage 3: Consistent attendance (aka chronic absenteeism) was used to identify the lowest 5% of Title 1 high schools.

Importantly, the North Star accountability system does not assign summative ratings to schools. This is different from Minnesota’s former accountability system, the Multiple Measurements Rating system, which had the summative ratings—Reward, Celebration Eligible, Continuous Improvement, Focus, and Priority.

An Overview: Regional Centers of Excellence

After schools are identified, they receive support from the RCEs. In total, Minnesota has six RCEs that are operated through the state’s six service cooperatives. The RCEs were first developed by MDE in 2012, after the state received a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Law.

The Minnesota legislature formally recognized the RCEs during the 2013 legislative session when legislation was passed and signed by Governor Dayton. Under state law, RCEs are charged with assisting and supporting local school boards, districts, and public schools in “implementing research-based interventions and practices to increase the students’ achievement within a region.”

Prior to the state’s new ESSA accountability plan, the RCEs supported schools identified as Focus or Priority. Now, the RCEs provide support to schools identified for either Comprehensive Support and Improvement or Targeted Support, each of which will be discussed more below.

An important distinction between CSI and TS schools is that CSI schools are identified by going through the three-stage identification process in its entirety, as well as by four-year graduation rates. TS schools, on the other hand, are identified by having, for any indicator in the three-stage process, one or more student groups—Ex. English learners, special education, Black, Latino, etc.—in the bottom quartile or that are performing similarly to the CSI schools.

Comprehensive Support and Improvement: MDE’s Most Intensive Form of Support

There are two ways schools can be identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI):

  1. The lowest 5 percent of Title I schools, as identified through the three-stage process described above. MDE identified 34 elementary, seven middle, and six high schools for this support.
  2. Any public high school, regardless of whether they do or do not receive Title I funds, with a four-year graduation rate below 67 percent overall for any student group. MDE identified 152 high schools to receive support in this area.

Schools identified for CSI are required to send the following to MDE by March 1, 2019:

  • Comprehensive Needs Assessment Summary Report: Under ESSA, the district or charter school is responsible for leading and supporting a comprehensive needs assessment process for schools identified for CSI.
  • School Improvement Plan: The primary purpose of the plan is to identify strategies, practices, or programs that can be implemented and that will have the highest likelihood of success. According to MDE’s School Improvement Plan Overview, schools should select strategies that are “informed by research as having a desired impact in addressing root causes for the intended student population.”
  • District Checklist and Approval for Comprehensive Support and Improvement Schools

The school improvement plan must be developed by each school’s improvement team, which should include the voices of educators, staff, and community members. Additionally, district staff should also be represented on the team or have a clear communication pathway between the school and its district. Each school’s improvement team is accountable for making the school improvement work happen, including the development and implementation of the School Improvement plan.

With regard to RCEs, each school identified in this category will be assigned an “advocate” who will work with the School Improvement Team to review, approve, and monitor the School Improvement plans. Specifically, the approval and monitoring process will be part of the technical assistance that the RCE advocate provides. An important component of RCE support is that it strives to provide individualized attention and recommendations so that each school receives the supports that they need to improve student achievement.

Targeted Support: Special Attention for Struggling Student Groups

There are three ways a school could be identified for Targeted Support (TS):

  • Schools where any student group performs at or below the average of the schools identified for CSI for at least one indicator.
  • Schools where any student group performs in the bottom quartile for one or more indicators.
  • Title I schools that would have been identified for CSI if their consistent attendance had been lower. In other words, these are the schools that were in the bottom quartile for Stage 1 and Stage 2 in the three-stage identification process.

In total, MDE identified 157 schools for Targeted Support. Schools identified for TS are not required to submit any of the documents that CSI schools have to submit. Rather, it is the responsibility of the district or charter school to document their improvement activities and maintain records of their local work because MDE will periodically audit the district and schools.

With regard to RCEs, each district that has schools identified for TS will be assigned an RCE staff member who will work with the district or charter school to help build their capacity to support the TS schools.

Other Support from MDE

While CSI and TS are the most intensive levels of school identification, MDE does offer professional development and networking opportunities to Title 1 schools that were in the bottom quartile for at least one of the academic indicators—mathematics achievement, reading achievement, and/or progress towards EL proficiency. MDE identified 134 schools to receive this support.

What’s Next?

MDE has created a timeline for schools identified for CSI. September through December, schools identified for CSI should be forming their improvement teams, conducting a needs assessment, creating a stakeholder communication plan, and starting to select strategies for school improvement. You can see MDE’s suggested Timeline here.

Minnesota will identify schools for support every three years, so the next round won’t be until the 2021-2022 academic year.

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PELSB Approves Rule Changes to Address Defects and Submits Them to Chief ALJ

On August 30, the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB), the new state entity which oversees teacher licensure, held a special board meeting to address defects in their rule draft that Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), Barbara Case, found in her August 16 report. PELSB had previously met on August 22 to review possible changes to correct the defects, with the hopes of approving them, but they did not have quorum.

This was the next step in what’s been a long and, sometimes, contentious rulemaking process for PELSB. For an overview of Minnesota’s transition to tiered licensure, which includes a history of the rulemaking process, read our briefing memo.

At the meeting, PELSB addressed 11 specific areas in rule where the ALJ had found defects. There were a few areas that only needed simple changes, like striking a line. However, other areas were more intensive and required PELSB to choose between different options. There was also a robust discussion between PELSB and public stakeholders on several of the changes considered. The meeting concluded with PELSB voting 6-2 to approve the rule changes.

This post will provide an overview of some of the changes PELSB made to rule and the next steps in the rulemaking process.

Changes Made to Two Most Contentious Areas: Cultural Competency and Tier 1 Mentoring

As we’ve previously written, two of the most contentious areas in the rule draft were:

  • Requirement for Tier 1 teachers to receive mentorship for a first time renewal.
  • PELSB’s definition of cultural competency training programs.

For Tier 1 mentorship, the ALJ determined, “The most reasonable reading of the statute is that it requires Tier 1 teachers to participate in a mentorship program and that a district that does not have a mentorship program cannot hire a Tier 1 applicant.” With that said, she did find a defect with the phrase “board-adopted criteria” because “The rule does not provide a clear rule that the general public can understand.”

To address this issue, PELSB struck the “board-adopted criteria” language and created a formal definition for what a mentorship program would entail. Importantly, the program definition would only be applicable for Tier 1 teachers, and not for Tier 2, Tier 3, or Tier 4.

With regard to cultural competency training, Judge Case found that PELSB had “sufficient facts to adequately support the need for and reasonableness of the proposed rule.” However, she strongly recommended that PELSB replace its proposed rule with language that is already in the Standards of Effective Practice, which PELSB did in their rule changes.

Acceptable Applicants: Prescriptive List by PELSB or District Discretion?

The teacher licensure legislation states that a district can hire a Tier 1 licensed teacher if they are unable to hire “an acceptable teacher with a Tier 2, 3, or 4 license.” Importantly, the legislation does not define “acceptable” nor does it indicate whether PELSB or the district has the discretion to determine who an “acceptable” candidate is.

The ALJ determined PELSB does have the authority to define the word “acceptable” because if left to each district it would “not provide a clear, understandable and generally applicable standard for administering teaching credentials.” With that said, the ALJ asserted that PELSB’s proposal to review applications on a “case-by-case basis” did not provide a clear standard. In her report, the ALJ provided a number of recommendations for how PELSB could rectify this defect. She concluded that whatever PELSB decided to do, they must make it clear what constitutes an unacceptable higher-tiered candidate.

At the August 30 meeting, PELSB addressed this defect by creating a list of five acceptable attributes that districts could indicate a Tier 2, Tier 3, or Tier 4 applicant did not possess as rationale for why they wanted to hire a Tier 1 teacher instead.

PELSB also aligned their criteria of “not acceptable” applicants for Out-Of-Field Permissions with the change they made for the Tier 1 process.

Man, This Rulemaking Process is Long. When Will it Be Done?

On August 31, PELSB submitted their rule changes to Judge Tammy Pust, the Chief ALJ. Judge Pust has five business days to review. After the Chief ALJ reviews the changes, one of two things will happen:

  • If the changes PELSB made are deemed substantial by the Chief ALJ, then the public comment period will start over again.
  • If the changes are not deemed substantial then, on the same day, PELSB will submit the rules to Governor Dayton for approval and take other procedural steps necessary for final adoption.

Education Evolving will continue to follow and report on the PELSB rulemaking process and other relevant topics with regard to teacher licensure.

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Project-Based Social Justice: Reimagining Student Success at Patrick Henry

Conflict resolution. Statistics. Self-advocacy. Science and math. Entrepreneurship. Job interviews. Problem-solving. Types of power. Building strong networks. Their own history.

These were some of the answers students, staff, families, and community members of Patrick Henry High School gave during a gathering last Friday to the question, “What topics should students learn about in school?”

Patrick Henry, a district high school in North Minneapolis that serves primarily low-income students and students of color, is part of a growing movement of public schools and districts around the country that are convening their local communities to create a Portrait of a Graduate—a “collective vision that articulates the community’s aspirations for all students”.

This blog post will explore the themes that emerged from the event last Friday and describe a new social justice themed project-based learning academy that will be launching this fall at Patrick Henry, which the event was intended to inform.

Community Emphasizes Importance of 21st Century Skills and Social-Emotional Competencies

When students, families, and community members arrived for the event, they found a number of large sheets of flip chart paper posted around the space. They were asked to circulate and leave their answers on post-it notes to questions like: “What types of community issues do you think students want to learn about in school?” and “What would an ideal graduate be able to do/have?”

After the gallery walk, a number of school and community leaders addressed the group. Finally, guests shared dinner and participated in facilitated small group conversations where the questions were explored with greater nuance.

Throughout the evening, the themes that emerged echoed what education advocates call “21st century skills” and “social-emotional competencies”. In addition to the skills listed in the opening line of this post, other prominent themes included:

  • Self-management skills (like project management, meeting deadlines, persistence, grit)
  • Communication skills (like collaboration, working across difference, and cultural code switching)
  • Practical college/career skills (like networking, applying for jobs, resume building, and making decisions about college programs)
  • Social justice themes (like self-advocacy, self-care, and knowledge about racism and gun violence)

These themes are also aligned with Education Evolving’s findings on the student competencies correlated with success in college, careers, and life, as part of research we are conducting for a paper on student-centered learning outcomes that is due out in October 2018.

And while community members valued broader and deeper competencies, academics were still highly important. As Sondra Samuels, President & CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone, and one of those who addressed the group, said: it’s important that “students are also expected to meet high standards.” That doesn’t need to be in conflict, she said, “with learning experiences that respect who students are, how they learn, and what they want to do.”

A New Social Justice Themed Project-Based Learning Academy

The Friday gathering was part of the planning process for a new social justice-oriented project-based learning academy that will launch this fall at Patrick Henry. Designed by teachers and supported by a grant from the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation, the academy will “provide an innovative, culturally relevant curriculum option to students who will benefit from real world experiential learning”.

The program will begin with a cohort of 50 students in their junior year. Students enrolled in the program will spend part of their day taking courses from the main high school course catalog. They will also have a special block of time dedicated to project-based learning, where they will work on social justice themed projects that they have chosen and that are aligned with their interests.

Additionally, one day a week, the students will spend their morning working on real-world job skills and then spend their afternoon in the community at an internship aligned with their interests and career aspirations.

While program will start with 50 students, the goal is that one day, when fully enrolled, the academy will grow to serve 250 students—and that successful practices and strategies learned in that program might spread within the larger high school.

Education Evolving will continue to report on innovative ways communities are defining and measuring student learning objectives. Sign up to receive Education Evolving blog posts by email. Also, stay tuned for our upcoming paper on defining and measuring student-centered outcomes, coming October 2018.

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Minnesota Awards State’s First Alternative Teacher Preparation Grants

This week, the Office of Higher Education announced the five recipients of the State’s first Alternative Teacher Preparation Grant Program:

  • Southwest West Central Service Cooperative
  • Learning Disabilities Association of Minnesota
  • Lakes Country Service Cooperative
  • The New Teacher Project
  • Teach For America

According to Larry Pogemiller, the Commissioner of the Office of Higher Education, “The five chosen programs all demonstrate innovative and promising teacher preparation methods that can help Minnesota schools meet the challenge of finding the teachers they need.”

The grant program was created during the 2017 legislative session and allocated $750,000 for new alternative preparation programs that intended to do one or more of the following:

  • Fill Minnesota’s teacher shortage in licensure areas that the commissioner has identified.
  • Recruit, select, and train teachers who reflect the racial or ethnic diversity of the students in Minnesota.
  • Establish professional development programs for teachers who have obtained teaching licenses through alternative teacher preparation programs.

Importantly, only a “school district, charter school, or nonprofit” were eligible for the grant monies, meaning that institutions of higher education were not. Additionally, in order to be eligible, programs must also have been in operation for three continuous years in Minnesota or any other state, and are working to fill the state’s teacher shortage areas. Finally, the commissioner of Higher Education must give preference to programs that are based in Minnesota.

This post will provide a description of an alternative teacher preparation program, as well as a description of the programs for each of the grant recipients.

What is an Alternative Teacher Preparation Program?

In 2011, the Minnesota legislature passed a law that created the opportunity for alternative teacher preparation programs to be created. According to a 2016 Office of the Legislative Auditor report, school district, charter schools, and nonprofit organizations are eligible to establish an alternative program by partnering with a college or university that had an alternative teacher preparation program. Additionally, school districts and charter schools are also able to establish an alternative program by forming a partnership with certain nonprofit organizations, but only after they had consulted with a college or university with a teacher preparation program.

Legislation passed during the 2017 session revised the 2011 legislation and created a clearer path to approval for alternative teacher preparation programs. Specifically, the 2017 legislation removed the partnership requirement. Those changes did not officially take effect until July 1, 2018.

Alternative teacher preparation programs are different from a “nonconventional” program in that they are not offered by a traditional teacher preparation institution and do not need to be associated with a particular school district, charter school, or nonprofit organization.

Even though the opportunity for the creation of alternative teacher preparation programs has been in statute since 2011, no such programs exist in the state. In 2012, Teach for America sought to become the state’s first alternative teacher preparation program, but instead ended up partnering with Hamline University, then the University of Minnesota, and now with Saint Mary’s University to create a “nonconventional” program.

Southwest West Central Service Cooperative

The SWWC Service Cooperative will use their grant money to create a program that ameliorates the “extreme teacher shortage experienced by both SWWC and its more than 55 member school districts.” Specifically, SWWC’s preparation program would train special education teachers, particularly in the areas of Early Childhood Special Education, Emotional or Behavioral Disorders, and Academic and Behavioral Strategists. In the future, they would also likely create programs for Teaching English as a Second Language.

With regard to the teacher training, SWWC said that they would embed experiential learning with on-the-job training, mentorship, and coaching in order to meet teacher licensure requirements and prepare teacher candidates for the changing needs of their students.

Learning Disabilities Association

LDA will use their grant money to create an alternative teacher preparation program for teachers pursuing the special education Academic and Behavior Strategist licensure. Also, with their “extensive partnerships” throughout the Twin Cities and surrounding cities, LDA Minnesota staff will “develop field experience that aligns with coursework with experienced licensed classroom teachers in diversified classrooms.” Another important piece for LSA is the recruitment and retention of diverse candidates, which they plan to do through the development of a strong mentorship and coaching program.

Lakes Country Service Cooperative

LCSC will create an alternative pathway for the shortage areas in Career and Technical Education:

  • Teacher/Coordinator of Work-Based Learning
  • Core Skills for Career and Technical Education
  • Construction Careers
  • Medical Careers
  • Transportation Careers
  • Manufacturing Careers

LCSC’s licensure program will use micro-credentialing, which is a program structure that will be set up with a “stack” of “multiple micro-credentials that are aligned very specifically to the content standards required for that particular license. As candidates progress, they will submit artifacts to be reviewed (by content experts) in relation to the specific micro-credential.” If the candidate provides enough evidence of competency, then the micro-credential will be granted and once the candidate obtains each required micro-credential then their program is considered complete.

The New Teacher Project

TNTP, a national organization that works with more than 30 cities around the country, will expand TNTP Academy—their alternative pathway to teacher certification that currently operates in four states—to Minnesota in order to increase the state’s teachers of color. Specifically, the program aims to recruit and train a “diverse pool of candidates to teach in the hardest-to-staff positions in partnering districts and charter schools across the state.” TNTP noted that about half of the Fellows they train identify as people of color, as compared to 18 percent of teachers nationwide.

Teach For America

Teach for America (TFA) has operated in the Twin Cities since 2009. They currently have 30 corps members and over 675 alumni in the region. TFA indicated that they wanted to “Launch an initial cohort of 30 teachers, 40% of whom are teachers of color and 30% from low-income backgrounds with over a third preparing to teach in subject-area shortages.”

Specifically, they will pursue initial program approval in July 2018 for the following shortage areas:

  • Middle and High School Mathematics
  • Middle and High School Science
  • Elementary, Middle, and High School English as a Second Language

After launching and implementing these programs, TFA plans to expand to special education licensure, which is another shortage area.

Education Evolving will continue to follow and report on the Alternative Teacher Preparation Grant Program, as well as alternative teacher preparation programs in Minnesota.

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