Press Releases

For Immediate Release: October 1, 2013

Contact: Josh Collins, MDE, 651-582-8205 or

State's 2013 Accountability Results Show Significant Progress for Priority and Focus Schools

New Investments by Governor Dayton and the Legislature to Expand Existing Regional Centers Will Accelerate Early Progress.

ROSEVILLE – Seventeen schools previously identified as Priority schools and 10 schools previously designated as Focus schools will no longer carry that status due to their substantial progress in raising achievement for all students and reducing achievement gaps. In addition, 10 of these schools are now eligible to apply for Celebration recognition, and three will be honored as Reward schools. As the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released the 2013 Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR), Minnesota’s Education Commissioner pointed to the data as evidence the state is beginning to bend the curve in closing its achievement disparities.

“Today’s release is about the hard work taking place every single day in our schools to ensure the success of each child,” Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. “It is because of the inspiring commitment, dedication and collaboration of teachers, support staff and school leaders that we are seeing improvements in our Priority and Focus schools.”

Commissioner Cassellius also acknowledged that some schools saw a lower MMR than the previous year, which corresponds with 2013 MCA results.

“It is no surprise to see that there are schools who received a lower MMR than in previous years. As we saw with the assessment results released last month, anytime a new test based on new standards is given, we can expect to see some variations,” Commissioner Cassellius said.

In looking at the growth for those schools exiting the Priority and Focus status, Commissioner Cassellius highlighted their success as important progress toward reaching the state’s goal of closing achievement gaps in half by 2017. Priority and Focus schools throughout Minnesota serve racially and ethnically diverse student populations with high levels of poverty. Priority and Focus school demographics show that 75 percent receive Free or Reduced-Price Lunch, 68 percent of those enrolled are minority students, 26 percent are English language learners and 14 percent receive special education services.

This year, Governor Dayton and the Legislature invested $2 million to expand the state’s Regional Centers for Excellence, a key part of MDE’s efforts to offer comprehensive school support. Schools designated as Priority or Focus work with MDE and a Regional Center of Excellence to develop and implement a school improvement plan. Using a combination of professional development, on-site technical assistance and ongoing support, the centers help school leaders create and implement plans to narrow the achievement gap, increase students' progress and growth toward career and college readiness, and increase student graduation rates.

By providing this strategic support and ensuring access to resources to aid their efforts, Priority and Focus schools are seeing notable growth. In fact, 78 percent of Priority schools demonstrated improvement, many by more than 20 percentage points on the MMR. Similarly, 71 percent of Focus schools demonstrated growth on the Focus Rating from the previous year.

Identifying what best practices were utilized in the improvement plans for schools that made substantial gains will be a focus of MDE this coming year. Commissioner Cassellius will soon be visiting these schools, offering administrators and staff the opportunity to share what’s working in their school in order to share their success with other schools across the state.

This year, 131 schools received a Reward designation, while 225 schools are classified as Celebration Eligible. These groups represent the highest performing of Minnesota’s 853 Title I schools. Of the schools designated as Reward, 79 of them have received the honor twice, while 20 have been recognized as a top performer all three years.

“I want to congratulate this year’s Reward and Celebration Eligible schools for their exceptional efforts, and especially commend the Priority and Focus schools for making such tremendous progress over the past two years,” Commissioner Cassellius said.

New Priority and Focus schools were not designated this year. Those schools are identified on a three-year cycle to allow time for new strategies to take hold and for the state to provide concentrated support and resources to those schools strategically identified as having the greatest need. New Priority and Focus schools will be announced in fall of 2014.

Schools exiting Priority and Focus lists are:

Priority Schools:

Edison Senior High School, Minneapolis Public School District
Wellstone International High School, Minneapolis Public School District
New Designation: Celebration Eligible
Red Lake Secondary, Red Lake Public School District
Cass Lake-Bena Secondary, Cass Lake-Bena Public School District
North View IB World School, Osseo Public School District
New Designation: Celebration Eligible
Sheridan Hills Elementary, Richfield Public School District
New Designation: Celebration Eligible
Brooklyn Center Secondary, Brooklyn Center Public School District
Braham Area Secondary, Braham Public School District
Keewatin Elementary, Nashwauk-Keewatin Public School District
New Designation: Reward
Ogilvie Secondary, Ogilvie Public School District
Mahnomen Elementary, Mahnomen Public School District
New Designation: Celebration Eligible
Isle Secondary, Isle Public School District
Humboldt Secondary School, St. Paul Public School District
A.C.G.C. Elementary, A.C.G.C. Public School District
New Designation: Reward
East Central Senior Secondary, East Central Public School District
New Visions Charter School, Minneapolis
New Discoveries Montessori Academy, Hutchinson
New Designation: Celebration Eligible

Focus Schools:

Kenny Elementary, Minneapolis Public School District
New Designation: Celebration Eligible
Southgate Elementary, Austin Public School District
New Designation: Celebration Eligible
Jefferson Elementary, Rochester Public School District
Viking Elementary, Pelican Rapids Public School District
Climax Elementary, Climax-Shelly Public School District
Red Lake County Central Elementary, Plummer Public School District
Paynesville Elementary, Paynesville Public School District
New Designation: Reward
Long Prairie Elementary, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Public School District
New Designation: Celebration Eligible
New Millennium Academy Charter School, Minneapolis
New Designation: Celebration Eligible
Partnership Academy, Inc., Richfield
New Designation: Celebration Eligible

Other Resources:

Read a list of the 2013 Reward Schools

See a summary of 2013 MMR results

View a spreadsheet of all of the 2013 MMR results data