MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail

February 28, 2013

Change in State Aid Payment Schedule Due to February Forecast

Please see the memorandum from Tom Melcher, director of School Finance, regarding the change in state aid payment schedule due to the February forecast. For assistance with questions concerning the change in payment schedules, contact Ann Van Diest, (651) 582-8745, or contact Audrey Bomstad, (651) 582-8793.

Commissioner Cassellius Visits Mankato Area Public Schools

As part of a series of school visits across Minnesota, yesterday Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius traveled to Mankato to visit Washington Elementary School to learn about their success in closing achievement gaps and to talk about how Governor Dayton’s budget would impact school districts across the state. Read the February 28 release.

Commissioner Cassellius Visits All-Day Kindergarten Program in Austin

Last week, Commissioner Cassellius traveled to Austin, Minnesota, to visit a successful all-day kindergarten program. The Commissioner’s visit highlighted the benefits of high-quality learning opportunities for children in reducing achievement gaps, promoting strong early literacy skills and laying a foundation for sustained academic success. Read the February 22 release.


Alternate Assessment Waiver

ESEA’s rules for calculating AYP state that no more than 1% of a district’s Index Points can come from students who take the MTAS. This is sometimes called the “1% cap.”  The cap does not relate to the number of students who can take the MTAS, which is a decision made by each student’s IEP team for individual students.

This waiver request does not include students with disabilities who take the MCA-Modified, nor the use of those scores in the AYP calculation. The AYP calculation has built in flexibility for scores from the MCA-Modified, so there is no waiver process for that group. Please refer to chapter 9 of the Procedures Manual for the Minnesota Assessments for further information. View the Procedures Manual on the Minnesota Assessments portal.

Districts that have a unique set of circumstances (including unique programs or demographic situations) that result in an unusually high number of their students taking the MTAS can request an Alternate Assessment Waiver that could result in the cap being raised. The ability to request a waiver will be available in Test WES from Monday, February 25, through Friday, March 22, 2013. If the waiver request is accepted, the district may be granted additional cap space on the number of proficient index points from the MTAS that contribute to the calculation of AYP in 2013. Details about the waiver process are in the Help section of Test WES.

Requests for a waiver can be entered by district staff in consultation with the director of special education, but must be formally authorized by the superintendent. Many superintendents already have a user ID and password for Test WES and have taken steps needed to grant Test WES access to the appropriate staff. The process for requesting access to MDE secure systems is currently being updated. Superintendents that have not already done so should refer to the following pages:

Data Submissions: View the Data Submissions page for information on accessing MDE systems.

Test WES Data Submissions: View the Test WES Data Submissions page for the superintendent authorization form specific to Test WES.

For assistance with questions about the Alternate Assessment Waiver, please contact Eric Kloos at or Stephanie Graff at For assistance with questions about accessing MDE systems, please contact


FY 2013 School Finance Awards

The FY 2013 School Finance Award recipients have been determined.  There was no application process for this year’s School Finance Award. The FY 2013 School Finance Award recipients and FY 2012 criteria are now posted on the MDE website. View the 2013 School Finance Award recipients.

Congratulations to the 422 schools who qualified for the FY 2013 School Finance Award!

Pilot Opportunities for the State Teacher Evaluation Example Model

A draft of the state model for teacher evaluation will be piloted in the 2013-14 school year.  We are asking school districts and local teachers’ unions to express interest in piloting the model, either in its entirety or individual components.  View the memorandum and letter of interest on the Teacher Evaluation Default Model website.  Please submit letter of interest by April 10, 2013. For assistance with questions about the pilot process or the letter of interest, contact Greg Keith or contact Tyler Livingston.

Confucius Institute – 2nd Annual Administrator's Conference – March 8, 2013

On Friday, March 8, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., the Confucius Institute at the University of Minnesota will present "Language Learning in the Age of Mandarin: Models of Sustainability and Success." The conference offers insight into the world of K-12 Mandarin Chinese language program administration for educators interested in starting or developing Mandarin language programs at the school or district level.

This year's conference features guest speaker Chris Livaccari, Director of Education and Chinese Language Initiatives at the Asia Society in New York, who will focus on strategies for building strong and sustainable Chinese language programs in the context of the rapid growth of Chinese language programs in U.S. schools.

Confucius Institute and Minnesota Department of Education staff will be on hand to offer support and programmatic advice for implementing programs in Minnesota. For additional information, including registration, visit the Confucius Institute website. (Lunch will be provided.)

For assistance with questions, contact Ursula Lentz (651-582-8664).