MDE Weekly Superintendent Mail

April 3, 2014

Achievement Gap Summit Postscript

On Friday, March 21, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) engaged over 200 educators around the state in a conversation about the achievement gap in Minnesota. The session provided an explanation of the gap data that was sent out to each district, and provided information about a wide range of technical assistance opportunities available to districts from MDE staff including support in the areas of English learners, special education, academic standards, data analysis and the Regional Centers of Excellence.

The session was also live-streamed so that a significant number of participants from around the state could also view the presentations. The recording of the session is currently being edited and will be available to districts for their review. The presentation will be sent to all participants when it is ready and posted for districts to access. Thank you to the panelists that joined us that day as well as all of the participants.

World’s Best Workforce Update

At this time, districts are busy completing their current year’s World Best Workforce (WBWF) plan, holding their public meetings or are already deliberating in work groups to develop the plan for next school year.

Districts would be wise to start the development of student achievement goals for next school year as well as assessing the progress their students have made toward learning targets during the current school year. Sharing this data with advisory groups, community partners and parents to inform them of the successes as well as the challenges that your students face allow their engagement in rich conversations about the direction and strategies that will be the focus of next year’s WBWF plan.

The WBWF planning process provides a platform for districts to comprehensively review all district and building plans that can and should be part of the overall strategic WBWF plan. This includes the development of a district’s literacy plan and the reporting of the reading assessment data as required by statute. (See next week’s newsletter for more information on literacy plans and the data submission process.)

Starting these deep, thoughtful planning processes is paramount to truly “move the needle” on closing the achievement gaps and to provide a system that will ensure success for every student.

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. There will soon be a Web page devoted just to the World’ Best Workforce on the MDE website. Keep checking back to this newsletter for further information! Any questions regarding the World’s Best Workforce initiative can be sent to MDE.WorldsBestWorkForce@state.mn.us.

Regional Centers of Excellence (RCEs)

Expanding the Network from Three to Six

In 2011 the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) launched three RCEs in collaboration with three service cooperatives to establish a consistent, cohesive regional delivery system to provide effective, efficient and equitable access to the Statewide System of Support (SSOS) for all for Focus and Priority schools.

Following the first year of implementation, approximately three-quarters of the Focus and Priority schools working with RCE SSOS staff made progress toward improved student outcomes. One-third of the schools made enough growth to be released from their status as Focus or Priority schools, and several achieved gains that earned them recognition as Celebration or Reward Schools. For more information, read the November 25 press release.

In light of this compelling positive impact on student learning, the Minnesota Legislature established a statute in 2013 to expand the RCE network, to enable this innovative partnership to have even greater impact on improved student outcomes in Minnesota. This legislation (Minn. Stat. § 120B.115) states that the RCEs will “…assist and support school boards, school districts, school sites, and charter schools in implementing research interventions and practices to increase the students' achievement within a region...” and increases the number of centers from three to six. Three additional service cooperatives in Mountain Iron, Fergus Falls and Marshall are in the process of being launched. In the coming weeks and months, services in areas such as family and community engagement, transition planning for high school students, dropout prevention, implementation of academic standards, and the World’s Best Workforce efforts will be made available throughout the state.

Educators wishing to receive more information regarding the services and support offered in the RCEs are encouraged to visit the Regional Centers of Excellence Web page, or contact Anne Lundquist, RCE coordinator, at 651-582-8318.

ACTION ITEM

Implementation of Tax Bill Provisions Relating to Local Optional Revenue

Please view the memorandum regarding the Implementation of Tax Bill Provisions Relating to Local Optional Revenue. Within this memo is a link to view the Tax Bill (Laws of Minnesota for 2014, Chapter 150) Impact of FY 2016 School District Revenue, Aid and Levy.

The department will provide all school districts with details on the calculation of initial referendum allowances for FY 2016 and later, and the process for implementing these changes, as soon as possible.

For assistance with questions regarding referendum and local optional revenue calculations, contact Jon VanOeveren, or Bob Porter.

GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

Competitive Grant Opportunity: State Fiscal Year 2015 – Division of School Support, Regional Communities of Practice – Mini-Grant

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) makes this state funding available for application by Minnesota Regional Education Cooperative Service Units for the benefit of school districts and charter schools to improve implementation of their teacher development and evaluation models in order to meet Minnesota’s statutory requirements for the Teacher Tenure Act.

State funding in the estimated amount of $40,000 is available to fund up to nine projects. Funding is from Minnesota 2013 Legislation Session Law: Chapter 16, Article 3, Section 37, Subdivision 21, Teacher Development and Evaluation Pilot Grant Program. The maximum award is expected not to exceed $4,445. However, MDE reserves the right to award grant amounts that differ than the applicant’s grant request contingent on the number of applications received and other factors.

A regional grantee will represent a consortium of local education educations comprised of two to four team members. MDE will send out a public notice to school districts and charter schools regarding the project once the grantee has been selected. The regional grantee will need to assist on further recruitment of district and charter school leadership teams.

The estimated grant period is anticipated to be from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015. Future funding may be available up to an additional four years.

Access the grant opportunity documents. Applications must be received by (not postmarked by) April 30, 2014, 3:30 p.m., Central Time.

Questions are due through email to Deborah Luedtke by April 9, 2014, 4:00 p.m., Central Time. The question and answer document will be published on the grant opportunity site after April 11, 2014, 4:00 p.m., Central Time.

Competitive Grant Opportunity: State Fiscal Year 2015 – Division of School Support, Federal 2014 – McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) invites Minnesota school districts and charter schools or consortia (representing school districts or charter schools) to apply for this federal 2014 supplemental funding to address the challenging education needs of students who are homeless. Applicants must meet specific minimum homeless student numbers to meet eligibility criteria.

The department has allocated an estimated $545,000 in federal funding from CFDA 84.196, McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth, for this initiative. The department anticipates funding 10-12 projects up to a maximum of $100,000, but award amounts are determined based upon the number of homeless students enrolled in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. The department reserves the right to award grant amounts that differ than the request or the maximum identified above. The estimated grant period is anticipated to be from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, with the option for continued funding one additional year.

Access the grant application and instructions. Applications must be received by (not postmarked by): May 6, 2014, 3:30 p.m., Central Time. Applications should be mailed or delivered — not submitted in the SERVS system.

Questions are due to the contact person below by April 14, 2014, 3:30 p.m., Central Time. A question and answer document will be published on the grant opportunity site after April 18, 2014, 3:30 p.m., Central Time.

For assistance with questions, please contact Roberto Reyes (651-582-8302).

ITEMS OF INTEREST

Minnesota Board of Teaching Licensure Actions

The Minnesota Board of Teaching has taken the following licensure actions:

Blanchfield, Joel (FF# 250750) Mr. Blanchfield’s license was suspended on March 26, 2014, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 270C.72, until he meets the requirements of the Board of Teaching.
Hall, Rebecca (FF# 351935) Ms. Hall’s license was suspended on March 25, 2014, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 270C.72, until she meets the requirements of the Board of Teaching.
Ricard, James (FF# 379687) Mr. Ricard’s teaching license was suspended on March 26, 2014, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 270C.72, until he meets the requirements of the Board of Teaching.

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.