MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail

March 6, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to share information with you regarding pool safety in light of the tragic events last week. I know many of you are reviewing your policies and procedures regarding pool safety. Public pools are regulated through the Department of Health (MDH). Below are talking points about pool regulations, as well as a link that could be helpful to you in your planning.

· School pools must follow the same rules and regulations as all other public pools in Minnesota. The statutes don’t differentiate.
· MDH provides the Pool Code on their website. This includes rules for lifeguards, signage, safety equipment, operator certification requirements, etc. Access the Pool Code on the MDH website.
· Pools must have a lifeguard present, UNLESS there is a sign posted warning that a lifeguard is not present. The individual must have a Red Cross lifeguard certification or equivalent and be responsible for user supervision, safety, and sanitation at all times the pool is in use.
· The rules do not specify a ratio of lifeguards to swimmers.
· Public pools are required to submit to MDH a report of any incidents for which emergency responders are summoned (i.e., any time they call 911) by the close of the next business day following the incident.
· The state requires that the program that prepares a physical education teacher for licensure include knowledge of safety, CPR and first aid. There is no requirement for a life guard certification. School districts may have policies requiring certification, but those are local decisions.

Thank you for all you do to ensure students are safe in our schools and if you should need any further information, please let us know.

- Brenda Cassellius


ACT Honors Students, Schools and Businesses at College and Career Readiness Recognition Ceremony

On Monday, the Minnesota ACT College and Career Readiness Recognition Ceremony was held at the Minnesota Department of Education to highlight exemplary college and career readiness efforts by high school students, high schools, community colleges and employers. Read the March 3 photo release.


Achievement Gap Summit – March 21, 2014

Nearly two years ago, Minnesota set a goal in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Flexibility Waiver to reduce the achievement gap by 50 percent by 2017. Minnesota established annual targets up until 2017 in reading and math for all student groups, including American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, black, white, free/reduced-price lunch, special education and English learners. Each district and school has their own unique targets based on the number of students in each grade level enrolled for the full academic year within these student groups. The proficiency index rates of the Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR) measures school performance against the targets.

On February 10, district superintendents each received a letter from the commissioner outlining their district’s progress to meet the 2017 goal. Now, school superintendents and other district personnel are invited to a professional conversation about the achievement gap. On Friday, March 21, please join this conversation to gather more information on your data as well as learn about technical assistance opportunities from Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) staff. MDE staff will share information regarding available support to districts including the areas of English learners, special education, academic standards, data analysis and the Regional Centers of Excellence.

Participants will also be able to hear from their colleagues about specific efforts their districts are making to close the achievement gap and raise student achievement for all students. The Summit is scheduled for 9 a.m. -12 p.m. on March 21 at the TIES building, 1667 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108. To RSVP, please contact Maria Vincent.

We hope you can join us in this opportunity to focus as a state on this issue. Thank you again for the work you do every day on behalf of Minnesota students.

Needs Assessment Survey for Teacher Development Evaluation – Closing Date Extended to March 14

The Minnesota Department of Education, in partnership with Education Minnesota and the Minnesota School Boards Association, is conducting a needs assessment survey regarding teacher development and evaluation. We request that a district superintendent or designee, on behalf of the school board, complete this survey with the president of the exclusive representative of teachers or a designee, on behalf of teachers, so that a joint perspective is offered in the response data. While joint agreement is not required for charter schools, we encourage charter directors to complete this survey in collaboration with teacher leadership.

Read the memorandum and access the needs assessment survey. District participation is encouraged, as the information you provide will be helpful to MDE while it examines how it can best support preparation for and implementation of teacher development and evaluation systems. The response deadline has been extended. Please submit your response by Friday, March 14, 2014.

For assistance with questions, contact Tyler Livingston.

Minnesota Common Course Catalog (MCCC): Reporting Year 2012-13 Opens March 17, 2014

The reporting year 2012-13 will open for MCCC K-12 data collections on March 17, 2014. Reporting year 2011-2012 will remain open for school districts that have not completed reporting for 2011-12.

We plan to open reporting year 2013-14 and close reporting year 2011-12 in fall 2014. From then on, we will be on a regular, annual reporting cycle for MCCC data collections. There are no changes to the MCCC Course Classification Catalogues for grades K-8 or 9-12 for the 2012-13 reporting year. Please continue to use the 2012 MCCC Course Classification Catalogues for both grade levels.

MCCC data from 2011-2012 will be loaded to the Minnesota Statewide Longitudinal Education Database and used for reporting purposes. All school districts should report as accurate and complete MCCC information as possible. If you have questions or need more information, please contact Cheryll Ostrom (651-582-8417).


Competitive Grant Opportunity: 2014 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) – Due April 22, 2014

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) makes this funding available for the purpose of addressing the priorities identified in Minnesota’s Five Year LSTA Plan (2013-2017). Minnesota’s plan identifies two overarching goals and several sub goals directed at ensuring that all Minnesotans have access to quality library services.

All legally established (in Minnesota) public, academic, special, and school libraries, library cooperatives and consortiums, and tax exempt non-profit organizations willing to serve as fiscal agent for a project that benefits a library are eligible to apply. Interested applicants that meet eligibility guidelines are invited to submit applications that address the priorities identified in Minnesota’s Five Year LSTA Plan (2013-2017). Access the Five-Year LSTA Plan (2013-2017).

Proposals are welcomed that expand programs and services that support Minnesotan’s needs for education, lifelong learning, continuing education, workforce development, 21st century and digital literacy skills; and/or establish a strong infrastructure and build capacity for improved coordination among and between eligible libraries to improve the quality of and access to library and information services.

This competitive grant opportunity estimates that $600,000 is available to fund approximately 12 grants using federal funds from the Grants to States – Library Services and Technology Act (CFDA 45.310) Award LS-00-12-0024-14. The maximum grant award may not exceed $150,000. However, State Library Services (MDE) reserves the right to offer grant awards to more or less than 12 applicants and in award amounts that differ than the applicant’s grant request.

Please visit the grant opportunity site. To access the grant opportunity application and instructions, scroll down to the “Library Services Technology Act Grant for Federal Year 2014.” Signed and submitted applications must be received by (not postmarked by) April 22, 2014, 3:30 p.m., Central Time.

Two webinars have been scheduled to provide application guidance: Friday, March 7, 2014, 1-2 p.m., Central Time; and Thursday, March 13, 2014, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Central Time.  Please refer to the grant instructions documents for further information.

For assistance with questions, contact Jackie Blagsvedt ( Questions are due to Jackie Blagsvedt through e-mail by March 18, 2014 at 3:30 p.m., Central Time.

Celebrating the Veteran in My Life – Student Poetry Contest

April is both Month of the Military Child and National Poetry Month. In recognition of these occasions, Senator Al Franken is hosting the 3rd Annual Children's Military Poetry Contest. In recognition of the extraordinary work of Minnesota men and women who serve our country, this year's theme is "Celebrating the Veteran in My Life." The poetry contest is open to all children in grades K-12 throughout Minnesota, with three age categories of grades K-6, 7-9, and 10-12. Children can celebrate ANY veteran or active military member, including a relative, family friend, teacher, neighbor, etc., who has had a positive impact on the child's life.

"Celebrating the Veteran in My Life" Poetry Contest Rules:

· Participants may submit only one entry per person to, or by mail to: Office of Senator Al Franken, c/o “Poetry Contest,” 60 Plato Blvd., Suite 220, Saint Paul, MN 55107.
· The poem’s maximum word count is 250 words; no minimum word count.
· Entry must be submitted by April 18, 2014, and must have name of child, child's grade, parent/guardian name, address, phone number, and name of school.
· Entries will be judged based on six criteria, including: relevance to theme, creativity, judge's impression, fluency, structure, and technical excellence.

Top winners in each category will be selected to receive the following:

· Invitation to join Senator Franken at a reception in his St. Paul office along with special guest judges: Minnesota Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Larry Shellito; Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen; Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard Major General Richard Nash; and Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius.
· Press release of winning poem and photograph from reception sent to local newspaper (with parent/guardian authorization)
· Grand Prize: 151 place-winning poems in each age category will be displayed at Sen. Franken’s office. First-place winners will also receive an autographed book by Minnesota author and host of "Prairie Home Companion" Garrison Keillor.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please e-mail or call 651-221-1016.

Fourth Annual Purple Up! – April 15, 2014

Wear purple on April 15. April is the Month of the Military Child and Purple Up! is a way that schools and communities and can show support during April. Take a photograph in purple and have it posted on the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Facebook page. Please send photos to Laura Groeneweg.

Purple Up! at the Rotunda. Families of the deployed, family readiness groups, Yellow Ribbon networks, all branches of service, and Minnesota’s military family supporters are invited to the State Capitol Rotunda to be part of a "Purple Up" photograph opportunity to support families of those deployed.

When: Tuesday, April 15, 9 a.m.
Where: Capitol Rotunda, St. Paul

Why: Nationwide, more than two million kids have a parent or parents serving in either an active duty or reserve role for the U.S. Armed Forces. In Minnesota, 20,000 men and women are currently serving. Their children bravely face the uncertainty of their parent's safety when they are away, as well as the difficult reintegration when they return. It is important for these military-connected youth to know that their nation and community stand by them in support.

The fourth annual Purple Up! is a fun way to show our support and is an opportunity to call attention to these special challenges faced by military kids. Put on your purple and come out to support these kids. RSVP by April 1 to Laura Groeneweg (, lead child and youth program coordinator. Find out more about military youth recognition opportunities on the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon website.

ED Review – A U.S. Department of Education Newsletter

ED Review provides a biweekly update on U.S. Department of Education initiatives and activities. See the latest ED Review posting on the U.S. Department of Education website.