MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail

January 10, 2014

Commissioner’s Dialogue with Superintendents – January 15

The monthly conference calls with Commissioner Brenda Cassellius are one of the best ways to stay informed about each other’s work and continue an open dialogue. School district superintendents are invited to participate in the next monthly dialogue via audio conference call Wednesday, January 15, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Call-in instructions will be e-mailed to you two days prior to the conference call.


World’s Best Workforce

“One Plan” Survey for Superintendents and/or District Staff – Deadline Today!

In conjunction with the World’s Best Workforce legislation requiring districts to develop a comprehensive strategic plan that will align district educational initiatives from pre-kindergarten to high school graduation, MDE is exploring the possibility of creating a structure to simplify multiple application processes and components. Ideally, this “unified” application (or “One Plan”) would allow more efficient application development and promote more strategic alignment across multiple applications/plans, intended outcomes and funding sources (for example, common or general information that is required of multiple applications/plans would not need to be repeated).

MDE is seeking your input to inform the agency’s One Plan Initiative work group. Please take five minutes to complete this short survey by the end of the day today, January 10!

Your feedback and ideas will be utilized the agency work group that is working in the development of this tool. Your involvement and input is greatly appreciated and valued! Take the One Plan Initiative online survey.

World’s Best Workforce Updates

District leaders are busy developing the portions of their World’s Best Workforce plans and making plans to involve and inform their district stakeholders in the development of the plan. A good place to start is to assess the student achievement strategies already in place that are having positive results and build the district plan from there. Using formative and summative student data will ensure that the plan is developed as a continuous improvement instrument.

World’s Best Workforce Question of the Week:

“If we are applying for integration funds as a collaborative, does the collaborative itself need to do a WBWF Plan?”

No, the WBWF Plan is required of districts and charter schools only. In completing a WBWF Plan, the district should explain the strategies they will utilize as a result of the integration funds to drive student achievement in the district. The integration plan is a subset (like a Q Comp, ADSIS, or Title I application) of the World’s Best Workforce Plan.

A planning document is available to help drive formative conversations within school districts as they develop their WBWF plans over the next several months. Access the planning document. Watch for future WBWF updates each week in this newsletter.

A PowerPoint presentation on the WBWF legislation is available that can be used by districts to inform staff, parents and other stakeholders. Access the PowerPoint presentation.

Any questions regarding the One Plan Survey or the World’s Best Workforce initiative can be sent to

District and School Site Verification – Please review contact information

So that school districts and charter schools are informed of important information from the Minnesota Department of Education, we will soon be updating our superintendent e-mail listserv. This listserv is used for sending the MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail and any other special mailings (including urgent messages) from Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. This is a good time for district and school site verification coordinators to review and update their school and district contact information if any changes have occurred recently.

To update contact information for your district or school, visit the District and School Site Verification webpage. If you have questions, please e-mail or contact Mary Pat Olsen at 651-582-8624.


Minnesota Algebra Challenge 2014 – February 3-7, 2014

Can Minnesota students solve 250,000 algebra problems in one week? The Minnesota Algebra Challenge is on for the week of February 3, 2014! This incredible opportunity is open to all K-12 students in Minnesota. It is free and includes teacher resources and free access to a Web-based version of DragonBox. The program is accessible on any Mac or PC, or other device with an updated browser that supports Flash. (IOS is not supported at this time.)

Visit the Minnesota Algebra Challenge 2014 website to sign up. It only takes a few minutes to get started and a few more to add your student names to the roster. With one click, you can generate printed access code cards for your students. Then you can access a limited preview of how the game works. It is recommended that you schedule a half hour or so in the lab ahead of the challenge date so that students can practice logging in and going through the tutorial levels. Then find 1.5 to 2 hours of time during the challenge week to play again. After the challenge week, students should be able to continue playing!

For assistance with questions, contact Chris Hesselbein, technology integration specialist, TIES, at or 651-999-6508.

Minnesota-China Teacher Exchange Program 2014-15

Minnesota K-12 teachers are invited to participate in the Minnesota-China Teacher Exchange Program at the Hangzhou Foreign Language School (HFLS), a select high school located outside the city of Hangzhou. Hangzhou is one of the seven ancient capitals of China and approximately three hours south of Shanghai.

The program, started in 1986, provides Minnesota teachers an opportunity to teach conversational English and American culture to students in grades 7-12, and for Minnesota schools to invite teachers from HFLS to teach Chinese language and culture. Minnesota teachers from any subject area are eligible to participate in either a semester or full-year program. Teachers in both countries receive compensation and upon their return, share their experiences and cultural learning in their respective schools.

Please distribute this professional development announcement to the teachers in your district. Read more information about the program on the Department of Education website. If you have questions or would like to request an application, contact Ursula Lentz, world languages content specialist, at 651-582-8664 or Application deadline is February 15, 2014.