Standards Implementation Toolkit

Purpose of the Toolkit

In response to the federal requirement to help schools implement the 2010 Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts (ELA Standards), the Minnesota Department of Education created the Standards Implementation Toolkit (Toolkit)—an easy-to-use website that assists schools at all stages of their implementation of the English Language Arts (ELA) Standards. The toolkit supports administrators, teachers, and others during the implementation of standards in order to prepare all students for college or for the needs of the contemporary workplace.

From Exploration, Installation, and through the Full and Sustained Implementation of the Standards, this one-stop shop provides no-cost resources to schools and districts in Minnesota. The tools were developed or reviewed by Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) staff to ensure coherence in practice and quality.

The Exploration:  Map the Road webpages provide a self-assessment activity and information about major implementation concepts related to exploring the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts.

The Installation:  Prep the Road webpages provide a self-assessment activity and tools and resources for using data, coordinating professional development, aligning work through collaboration, and selecting evidence-based interventions. 

The Initial Implementation:  Pave the Road webpages provides a self-assessment activity and tools and resources for using data to drive implementation and fidelity and the building of units and lessons with features of UDL, installation and guidance in academic language, supplemental supports, protocols for scoring student work, and professional development.

The resources in the Standards Implementation Toolkit incorporate principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and promote the development of Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) with practices at each tier aligned to the ELA Standards so that every student will make progress.

Some students may not have the language skills necessary to access and master the ELA Standards. Resources in each section are available to support language development for these students. 

Features of the Toolkit Process

In addition to the ELA Standards, the Toolkit features Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). When addressed together using sound implementation practices, these three pathways to student success will ensure that all students have access to the ELA Standards.

UDL and MTSS assume that all students can learn and achieve at a high level and they promote this value at their core. These research-based best practices guide schools in delivering effective curriculum, instruction, learning and classroom environments, pedagogy, and student assessments. The ELA Standards are also aligned with other MDE initiatives and standards, such as the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress used to guide early childhood practitioners.

While a long-term and complex endeavor, schools and districts will more likely achieve full implementation of the ELA Standards, develop effective systems, and realize improved education outcomes for all students by applying these three pathways simultaneously. Schools and districts may use the resulting structure to implement other important initiatives.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) allows flexibility in the approaches teachers may use to present information to students, the ways students respond to or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and the manner in which students engage with information and the school environment. UDL reduces barriers in instruction and provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges to help students achieve standards. UDL maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including those with disabilities and limited English proficiency. UDL principles were considered in the design of many of the ELA Standards and benchmarks.

Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) provides a framework to ensure that ELA Standards align with all three tiers of the educational system, including the core instruction and group and individual student interventions. Teachers use data obtained through systematic problem-solving processes to make decisions about student movement between tiers and to make improvements to instruction and delivery.

Sound implementation practices involve the careful planning of initiatives, policies, programs, or practices to ensure the highest quality results. Toolkit sections are based on a developmental sequence of implementation stages. Resources in each section were selected or created to support stage-based activities designed to improve the success of implementation. Please note, all listed resources include the full URL, per UDL guidelines and toolkit design team consensus.


Implementing Minnesota's English Language Arts Standards: Opportunities for Innovation
Watch this video to learn how St. Paul Public Schools is using the implementation of the Minnesota K-12 ELA Standards as an opportunity to do business differently.  From the start of this multi-year process the district’s leadership and implementation team has engaged teachers, administrators, and specialists throughout the district in an effort to improve the teaching and learning of the ELA Standards and to create shared responsibility for their implementation. Hear members of the St. Paul team described the important lessons they are learning on the road to full implementation. Stay tuned for part two of their journey.

Common Core State Standards and Diverse Urban Students: Using Multi-Tiered Systems of Support
( This white paper from Council of the Great City Schools’ (CGCS) provides an overview of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for district and school administrators as well as for the general public.

It discusses how the simultaneous integration and implementation of Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) with the implementation of the English Language Arts (ELA) Standards (referred to as the Common Core State Standards in the paper) may benefit all students. Although the paper’s title suggests that the standards were designed for large urban districts and schools, CCSS have relevance for all districts, schools, staff, parents, and students in Minnesota.

The CGCS paper suggests implementing mathematics standards and positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS) through MTSS in addition to the ELA Standards. This suggestion is not inconsistent with MDE’s approach to implementation. If a district or school wishes to address mathematics and/or behavior concurrently with the implementation of the ELA Standards, MDE recommends expanding its leadership and implementation teams to include specific expertise in those areas.

Common Core Standards and English Learners ( is a two-hour webinar that contains an overview of Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The webinar focuses on English Language Learners (ELLs) and provides examples of how the reform has impacted several school districts. The program is based on the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) paper mentioned in the resource summary above, and was sponsored by the National Center for English Language Acquisition (NCELA). Presenters include Judy Elliott, former Chief Academic Officer, Los Angeles Unified School District; Lily Wong Fillmore, University of California, Berkeley; and Margarita Calderón, Professor Emerita, Johns Hopkins University.

  • Background on Standards  - 8/15/13
    The 2010 ELA Standards in Minnesota are based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English Language Arts. The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS) is a collaborative project driven by states to define the k-12 knowledge and skills that all students need in order to be ready for college and careers.