Federal Accountability

Requirements for Continuous Improvement Schools

Title I schools with Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) in the bottom 25 percent are designated as Continuous Improvement schools. A Title I school identified as a Continuous Improvement school (that is not already designated as a Priority or a Focus school) and the Local Education Agency (LEA) must collaborate to:

• Conduct a needs assessment
• Complete a comprehensive school improvement plan
• Notify and collaborate with parents regarding the school’s Continuous Improvement designation

Support for a Continuous Improvement school should include a 20% Title I building set-aside for improvement plan activities. It is the responsibility of the LEA to provide oversight, monitoring, support and resources to ensure that continuous improvement school plans are implemented with fidelity.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will audit a random 10 percent of school improvement plans created by schools in the Continuous Improvement category and will conduct site visits at these schools to ensure that plans are being 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 staff member dedicated to data analysis, or the designation of an LEA-level liaison among 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 their parents, communities and districts to conduct a needs assessment and develop and implement a school improvement plan. In addition, a Continuous Improvement school should set aside 20 percent of the building allocation for school plan activities and services. Also, Continuous Improvement schools must notify parents of their status.

Q: Is there a required format or template for the school improvement plan?

A: The MDE template for Priority and Focus school improvement planning is available for use by schools in Continuous Improvement. For a complete and accessible version please contact Tom Gray at thomas.gray@state.mn.us or Chelsea Goebel at chelsea.goebel@state.mn.us. However, use of the MDE template is not mandatory for Continuous Improvement schools and can vary in terms of format to correspond with district processes. Minimally, the plan should include a summary of goals and anticipated outcomes based on a comprehensive needs assessment, incorporate research-based practices and strategies, and should include targeted professional development to address prioritized 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 audit 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, improvement 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 impact on student achievement. MDE will begin the auditing process in December to ensure school improvement plans are being effectively implemented during the 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 posted 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 or sending it home in backpacks. Also, 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: Schools are to notify parents within 30 days of the release of MMR results and being informed of their status/designation as a Continuous Improvement school.

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 letters using relevant school information as well as the school or district letterhead. To navigate this, go to the MDE website and select School Support, Federal Title Programs (ESEA), and Federal Accountability. Scroll down the page to locate the letter templates.