2011 Press Releases

For Immediate Release: December 6, 2011

Contact: Charlene Briner 651.582.1145

Commissioner Cassellius Announces Series of Statewide Meetings

Public Meetings Will Focus on No Child Left Behind Waiver and Plans for New Accountability System

Roseville, MN – The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) today announced a series of statewide public meetings to provide information about Minnesota’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waiver request. Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and Department staff will embark on a statewide tour to present information about Minnesota’s waiver request and plans for a new accountability system that will more accurately and fairly measure schools progress.

The first Public Meeting will be held in Rochester on December 8, from 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. at the International Event Center, 7333 Airport View Drive S. W., Rochester, MN

The second Public Meeting will be held in St. Cloud on December 14 from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. at the Apollo Campus, 1000 - 44th Avenue N, Suite 100, St. cloud, MN.

“While the goals of NCLB are noble and some aspects of the law have been effective, it’s clear Minnesota can, and must do better,” said Commissioner Cassellius. “That’s why Governor Dayton has taken the lead in making Minnesota one of the first states to create an accountability system that is more responsive to the needs of our students, our schools and our state. These meetings will provide the public an opportunity to hear about Minnesota's waiver request, ask questions and offer feedback.”

Central to Minnesota’s waiver request is the move from a widely criticized system that uses a single high-stakes test to measure school performance to a system that uses multiple measurements of accountability. Cassellius says that while measuring proficiency is absolutely essential in any accountability system, other data is needed to get a full picture of how a school is meeting the needs of students.

“NCLB has proven to be a flawed and ineffective system and we are excited to have the opportunity to replace it with a system that works for Minnesota,” said Cassellius. “This plan offers us a chance to make real progress in closing the achievement gaps that have plagued our state for more than a decade and that put our economic future at risk.”

As outlined in the waiver request, Minnesota’s accountability plans will look at individual student growth, achievement gap reduction and graduation rates in addition to proficiency rates to generate a Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR) for every school in the state. The MMR rating measures performance in four key areas: proficiency in reading and math, student growth from year-to-year, higher levels of growth in groups of students that are farther behind, and progress in improving high school graduation rates. Schools that struggle to meet some or all of the goals will be given support to change the way they operate.

The new accountability system will allow the state to acknowledge schools that are most deserving of recognition, as well as focus attention on the schools in need of additional support. Schools will be identified as Priority, Focus and Reward Schools. The state’s lowest-performing schools will be identified as Priority Schools and will work directly with MDE to implement turnaround strategies that aim to dramatically improve the school's performance. Focus Schools are identified as the schools making the largest contribution to the state's achievement gap. Those schools will work with their district and with the support of MDE to provide targeted assistance to low-performing subgroups. The state’s highest performing schools will be identified as Reward Schools and will be singled out for recognition and studied to identify best practices.

“We believe this proposal gives Minnesota the best chance to achieve our goals of closing achievement gaps and promoting high academic performance for all students,” said Cassellius. “I know Minnesotans care deeply about our students and our schools. I’m looking forward to sharing this plan -- to bring our schools from good to great -- with citizens across the state.”

In addition to the meetings in Rochester and St. Cloud, subsequent meetings in the metro area and other regions of Greater Minnesota are in the planning stages for January and February.

To read more about Minnesota’s NCLB waiver request visit: http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/Welcome/AdvBCT/NCLBWaiver/index.html