Requirements for Continuous Improvement Schools
Title I schools with Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) in the bottom 25 percent are identified as Continuous Improvement Schools. Title I schools identified as continuous improvement schools that are not already Priority or Focus Schools must work with their Local Education Agency (LEA) to conduct a needs assessment and complete a comprehensive school improvement plan and set aside 20 percent of the Title I school allocation for school improvement activities. It is the responsibility of the LEA to provide oversight, monitoring, support and resources to implement these plans.
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will audit a random 10 percent of improvement plans created by schools in the Continuous Improvement category and will conduct site visits at these schools to ensure that the school improvement plan is implemented. LEAs that fail to effectively implement school improvement plans in Continuous Improvement Schools could be subject to withholding of Title I funds until positive actions are taken, or in cases where the LEA is persistently low-achieving, be required to implement additional mandatory set-asides for state-approved LEA improvement activities. These set-asides would be linked to an LEA improvement plan that could include the identification of a need for a staff member dedicated to data analysis, or the designation of an LEA-level liaison between the LEA, MDE, and the statewide system of support.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What do Continuous Improvement Schools have to do?
A: Continuous Improvement Schools are required to work collaboratively with parents, their communities and their districts to conduct a needs assessment, develop and implement a school improvement plan and set-aside 20 percent of the school allocation for school improvement activities. Additionally, Continuous Improvement Schools must notify parents of their status.
Q: Is there a required format or template for the school improvement plan?
A: The template for Priority and Focus school improvement planning is available for use by schools in Continuous Improvement. View the School Improvement Plan template. However, use of the template is not mandatory for Continuous Improvement schools and can vary in terms of format to correspond to district processes. Minimally, the plan should include a summary of goals and anticipated outcomes based on a comprehensive needs assessment, incorporate research - based interventions and action step strategies, and should include targeted professional development to address evidence-based needs to increase student achievement.
Q: Are School Improvement Plans for Continuous Improvement schools submitted to MDE?
A: No. School improvement plans are not submitted to or approved by MDE. Instead, LEAs are charged with ensuring that a needs assessment is conducted and that plans are developed and implemented.
Q: Will MDE monitor the improvement process for Continuous Improvement Schools?
A: MDE will audit 10 percent of Continuous Improvement Schools annually to ensure completion of the process and fidelity with the improvement plan implementation. Audits will include a site visit component so evidence of the needs assessment, planning and implementation must be available at the LEA and made available to MDE if required during the audit.
Q: When is the school improvement plan due?
A: Although there is not a requirement to submit school improvement plans to MDE for review, Continuous Improvement schools are encouraged to develop and begin implementing their improvement plans as soon as possible to fully realize the full impact on student achievement. MDE will begin auditing Continuous Improvement Schools in November 2012 to ensure school improvement plans are being effectively implemented in the 2012-2013 school year.
Q: Are we required to notify parents of the continuous improvement status?
A: Yes. Because regular communication is the foundation of effective parental involvement, districts and schools must continue to provide information about district, school, and student progress to parents. Continuous Improvement schools must promptly notify parents of each student enrolled in the school.
Q: What must be included in the parent notification letter?
A: The notification letters must inform parents of the school’s status and how they can be engaged in their child’s education. The notification letters must be in an understandable, uniform format, including alternative formats available upon request and to the extent practicable, in a language that parents can understand. The information must be provided directly to parents on school or district letterhead through regular mail or email and post it on their website. Additionally, the information must be disseminated through a broader means such as the media, public agencies serving the student population and their families and sending it home in backpacks. Additionally, LEAs are required to attach the dated parent notification letter to the Title I, Part A application in SERVS.
Q: What is the deadline for parent notification?
A: Given the timeline for release of MMR and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in late August, district must notify parents regarding the status of Continuous Improvement schools by October 1.
Q: Is a parent notification letter template available?
A: Parent notification letter templates in English, Hmong Karen, Somali and Spanish are available on the MDE website. LEAs may use the templates but must customize using relevant school information as well as the school or district letterhead. View the templates on the MDE website. To navigate to the site, go to the MDE website and select School Support, Federal Title Programs (ESEA), Federal Accountability. Scroll down the page to locate the letter templates.