MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail

January 30, 2014

PRESS RELEASE

Minnesota Department of Education Announces Vendor for Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments

Starting next year, Pearson will be the new vendor to administer the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments for grades three through seven, as well as the new grade eight and grade 10 assessments.

Pearson will administer web-based assessments. District staff will no longer spend hours downloading and installing special single-use browsers on every computer, and then reverse that process after testing. The new system will be able to lock down commonly used browsers during testing, and then unlock them when testing ends.

Many of the online testing issues last spring dealt with bandwidth problems. Pearson’s technology infrastructure is different. Districts will have tools to analyze their own infrastructure and make their own determination whether to administer tests continuously connected to the Internet, or with the option of “proctor caching.” Pearson has a new proctor caching system that was used in 2011. It is a secure option that enables tests to be delivered over limited Internet bandwidth. The administrator downloads content only once; data resides on one secure computer and delivers content to the student’s computer.  Read the January 27 press release.

ACTION ITEMS

World’s Best Workforce Update

WBWF Question of the Week: How do I include NAEP scores when not all of our students are assessed every year?  Do I just use Minnesota’s overall scores?

Answer: Because NAEP scores are reported only at the state level and are taken by a random sample of schools, it appears that it is difficult to set a specific NAEP goal for the plan. With this in mind, set the district’s student achievement goals based on the trends indicated in the NAEP scores. For example, Minnesota’s fourth-graders were number 1 in the country in math this year and saw a significant increase in student proficiency rom the past. How does that compare to the math data in your district? You may want to compare the district’s math goals for elementary aligned with the growth and proficiency trends indicated in the state NAEP data. In other words, use the data as a reference point in your goal decision making.

Does anyone have another idea on how to utilize the data points from NAEP to help in setting district or building goals? Submit to the World’s Best Workforce e-mail below and we will share it with the state in the next WBWF update!

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.

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.

Watch for future WBWF updates each week in this newsletter. Any questions regarding the World’s Best Workforce initiative can be sent to MDE.WorldsBestWorkForce@state.mn.us.

Nonpublic Pupil Aids; Promulgation of Fiscal Year 2015 Program Rates of Entitlement and Pupil Reporting Procedure

See the memorandum from Greg Sogaard, division of school finance. The purpose of this memo is to promulgate the Fiscal Year 2015 rates of entitlement. Please forward this information to your district administrator for nonpublic pupil aids. For assistance with questions, contact Greg Sogaard (651-582-8858).

Minnesota Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid Program Criteria

For FY 2006 and later, the Minnesota Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid program provides school districts and charter schools with financial assistance to help with the costs of maintaining Internet access, video connectivity and related telecommunications services as defined on the federal E-Rate Eligible Services List as recurring Priority I services for Internet access, video connectivity, and other related information transfer services. Nonpublic schools are also entitled to aid under this program. School districts are required to work with the nonpublic schools within their boundaries, at the nonpublic schools’ request, to provide or arrange for telecommunications access services to the nonpublic school either through existing school district providers or through separate providers. The Legislature has appropriated $3,750,000 for FY 2014. View detailed program criteria.

MDE has created an online data collection website for schools or clusters to submit cost and e-rate data. The deadline to submit cost data is February 28, 2014.

For information regarding the Minnesota Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid Program Criteria, please contact Chris Kubesh (chris.kubesh@state.mn.us), program finance (651) 582-8319.

Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 21-25, 2014

During this important week, school administrators, safety officers, faculty and even students should review severe weather safety procedures to ensure every school is prepared to respond safely to any weather emergency or natural disaster.

Each day of Severe Weather Week focuses on a different topic that is promoted in local media and through a variety of communications channels (Internet, social media, events, displays, etc.)

• Monday – Alerts and Warnings
• Tuesday – Severe Weather, Lightning and Hail
• Wednesday – Floods
Thursday – Tornadoes (with statewide tornado drills)
- Statewide tornado drills are Thursday, April 24, at 1:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m.
• Friday – Extreme Heat

Visit the Homeland Security and Emergency Management website for more information. Contact HSEM at ready.minnesota@state.mn.us with any questions or comments.

ITEMS OF INTEREST

Minnesota eLearning Summit – July 30-31, 2014

Mark your calendars! Minnesota’s eLearning Summit 2014 will be held July 30-31 at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul. Keynote speakers are Dr. Cable Green (Creative Commons) and Dr. Robbie Melton (Tennessee Board of Regents). The summit is designed specifically for K-12 and post-secondary educators, public and private sectors, to join together for meaningful interaction regarding effective uses of technology with teaching and learning.

This year’s theme is Open. Online. Opportunity. This theme opens the doors and windows of our thinking and practice regarding education as we consider current realities and future possibilities. Through national leaders in education as keynote speakers, interactive breakout sessions, showcase sessions featuring innovative technologies, and various ways to network with colleagues, we will consider what we do and what we might do together.

Call for Proposals: The summit program committee is looking for presenters from K-12 and post-secondary education, encouraging those with a K-12 focus to contribute presentation at the summit. View the Call for Proposals information on the eLearning Summit website. Proposal deadline is February 28, 2014. For assistance with questions regarding session proposals, contact either Mary Mehsikomer, TIES, at mary.mehsikomer@ties.k12.mn.us, or Deborah Proctor, MDE, at Deborah.proctor@state.mn.us.

Registration for the summit will open in February. Early registration rates will be provided until March 31, 2014.

Decision-Making Strategies for Early Kindergarten Entrance Workshop – February 13, 2014

The Decision-Making Strategies for Early Kindergarten Entrance Workshop is designed to assist school districts and charter schools in developing board-approved policies for the early admission of select students into kindergarten or first grade.

The Decision-Making Strategies for Early Entrance Workshop will be held at the Minnesota Department of Education, Conference Center B, Room 15, on Thursday, February 13, 2014, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The workshop will provide you with detailed information about effective strategies for considering select children who potentially may be admitted to kindergarten or first grade prior to meeting the age-eligibility entrance requirements. The cost of the workshop is $25. Morning refreshments and lunch will be provided. CEUs will be available. To register for this workshop, visit the Metro ECSU website. Registration deadline is February 7, 2014.

For additional information, contact Debbykay Peterson at debbykay.peterson@state.mn.us, or contact Wendy Behrens at wendy.behrens@state.mn.us.