CONTACT: Josh Collins, 651-582-8205, firstname.lastname@example.org
ROSEVILLE – In the midst of news that Minnesota has started moving the needle in closing achievement gaps and that many of the state’s most struggling schools have made significant progress for their students, the Minnesota Department of Education is seeking to leverage this exciting momentum with the announcement of three new Regional Centers of Excellence. Made possible through a $2 million investment by Governor Mark Dayton and the Legislature, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius announced the SW/WC Service Cooperative, Lakes Country Service Cooperative and NE Service Cooperative as the organizations selected to head up this exciting expansion.
Created around the idea that successful school improvement requires a stronger system of support across the state, the Regional Centers of Excellence are located throughout Greater Minnesota and staffed by specialists with expertise in reading, math and other content. By providing a combination of professional development, technical assistance and ongoing support directly to schools, the centers help school leaders create and implement plans to narrow achievement gaps, increase graduation rates and improve student outcomes to ensure all students are ready for a career or college.
Regional center employees work directly with school staff, listening and observing as they collaborate to address areas where students are struggling. Working with multiple schools also allows regional center staff to share best practices between schools. Last year, staff from the regional centers spent 14,396 hours providing direct support to schools.
“As I visit schools across the state, there is one constant wherever I go: Minnesota is home to some amazing and dedicated teachers,” Commissioner Cassellius said. “These men and women have chosen to spend their careers ensuring every child succeeds. It is our job to support them, providing the professional development and technical support necessary to build their tool-kit. The Regional Centers of Excellence are a key part in our work to support teachers.”
The successes of the three initial centers in establishing a coherent statewide system of regional technical assistance and professional development was evident when the 2013 Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR) were released in October. A full 78 percent of schools identified as 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. Further, nearly one-third of schools previously identified as either Priority or Focus schools no longer carry that status due in part to the collaborative efforts of MDE and staff in the centers.
Unlike the original centers, which were funded by federal dollars, the new Regional Centers of Excellence will assist all interested schools and districts in implementing programs that close the achievement gap, increase graduation rates, and increase students’ progress and growth toward career and college readiness.
“Schools should not have to wait until they are deemed failing to receive strategic support, but lack of resources limited our ability to work with every district,” Commissioner Cassellius said. “I want to thank Governor Dayton and the Legislature for their bold leadership. With their investment in this nationally recognized effort, we will be able to provide more schools the help they need to improve achievement for every single student.”
Minnesota’s Regional Centers:
View a graphic showing where the Regional Centers of Excellence are located. Visit the Minnesota Department of Education website for additional information about the Regional Centers of Excellence.