ESSA committee covers accountability, WBWF alignment, testing at latest meeting

ESSA committee covers accountability, WBWF alignment, testing at latest meeting


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Accountability Advisory Committee held their third meeting on Thursday, September 15, in Roseville.

The committee’s agenda included:
1. Update Stakeholder engagement opportunities and ESSA Resource Kit
2. WBWF and ESSA Alignment
3. School Quality/Student Success Subcommittee Report
4. Advisory Committee Input Document (Draft)
5. Updated Process Agreement and Equity Definition
6. Wrap up and next steps

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will be going on the road to hold Every Student Succeeds Act Regional Meetings. Plan to attend a meeting in your area (venues and more details TBA):

  • October 5 — Duluth
  • October 6 — Bemidji
  • October 13 — Marshall
  • October 14 — Rochester
  • October 26 — St. Cloud
  • November 3 — Burnsville

MDE has updated its website at to reflect the progress and activity of the committees. The site also provides information on some of the key areas being discussed, as well as an informational sheet with commonly asked questions that can be used to share information by education stakeholder groups.

Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius addressed the group and discussed the World’s Best Workforce and ESSA alignment. In summary, she stated there are three other state accountability systems that need to be considered: the World’s Best Workforce, the Integration and Achievement program, and Q Comp (school Q Comp goals).

A key question: How do we get the World’s Best Workforce indicators to align and simplify our accountability system while not compromising student achievement?

Finally, Commissioner Cassellius pointed out that not every grade level that is tested needs to be included in the accountability system. For example, districts could test in every grade but only use the fifth-grade and eighth-grade testing outcomes as part of their accountability measure. At the high school level, a district could use a composite score of math and reading. This option could put a lot of pressure on fifth-grade and eighth-grade teachers. Grade configuration at elementary school and middle school also need to be considered.

Commissioner Cassellius raised another question: Who would support a district-level accountability system instead of the current system that uses individual school-level data reporting? This will be an important question in the development of Minnesota’s new accountability system.

The School Quality or Student Success Subcommittee provided an update after meeting two times. They reported on two issues: (1) chronic absenteeism and (2) career and college readiness.

  • Chronic absenteeism or some other attendance-based calculation could be an indicator of school climate and student engagement.
  • Career and college readiness options. Participation in one of a range of high school programs (AP tests, career and tech programs) could be an indicator of access to career and college readiness opportunities. The subcommittee was clear that they could not reach consensus on moving this item forward because districts are in different places in terms of career and tech programs and postsecondary options.

The best option seems to be the percent of students who are accessing career and technical education (CTE), Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), Concurrent Enrollment and PSEO. Measures are difficult — participation or preparedness? Some districts may not have a PSEO option, AP or IB option. Equity in access to these programs does not currently exist — this presents a problem when developing an accountability system around this measurement.

The Accountability Advisory Committee’s next meeting is schedules for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 29, at the MDE office in Roseville.

See for meeting information.

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