Minnesota Department of Education kicks off Every Student Succeeds Act topic meetings with look at accountability

Minnesota Department of Education kicks off Every Student Succeeds Act topic meetings with look at accountability


Topic: Accountability (Including academic and non-academic indicators)

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) held the first in a planned series of Every Student Success Act (ESSA) topic meetings Wednesday afternoon at their Roseville office. Nearly 100 stakeholders from many school boards, district personnel and other associations came to hear and discuss accountability in context of the federal ESSA’s revamped accountability systems, specifically, the process used to identify schools for improvement or recognition.

MDE Commissioner Brenda Cassellius shared the importance of gathering input from these meetings and how it will have a significant impact on shaping Minnesota’s new system that will begin in the 2017-18 school year. There is an expectation that draft federal regulations or guidance should be released in May or June. Cassellius said she is especially pleased with how under ESSA, states have the authority to set goals and determine measures. She believes our World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) is aligned well with ESSA and can serve as a solid base for Minnesota’s ESSA state plan.

After a short walkthrough of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and ESSA, the commissioner opened the meeting up for discussion and questions. Given the parameters in ESSA law, she wanted the group to share ideas, opportunities they see for Minnesota, and if there are possibilities to build off of existing state or federal efforts or align with ongoing initiatives. There were a handful of comments and ideas from participants and the commissioner shared many ideas as well.

Here are a couple of the remarks/ideas from participants:

Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments

  • Schools could receive credit for those students who didn’t pass an MCA, but who made improvement the following year.
  • MCAs could be used as a college entrance exam for MnSCU schools and the University of Minnesota.


  • Schools could be held accountable to districts and districts accountable to MDE.
  • Districts identify and report what schools are in need of help and what schools are excelling.


  • Weights could be assigned to various grade levels (e.g., high school scores would carry more weight than third-grade results).
  • Include MCA science as part of accountability system.
  • Look at the process of choosing assessments.


  • How will the transition from NCLB to ESSA work, so as not to burden districts?

Commissioner Cassellius encourages any idea to be put forth. Send your ideas to the commissioner at brenda.cassellius@state.mn.us or 651-582-8200.

Notes were taken and will be published on the MDE website. Work groups will be formed from these topic meetings and begin collaborating to develop Minnesota’s state plan in June or July.

NEXT MEETING: School Improvement is the topic of the next meeting slated from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, April 12, at the MDE office in Conference Center B (Room 15). Visit http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/Welcome/Direc/index.html for directions to the MDE office in Roseville.

FULL SCHEDULE: See http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/SchSup/ESSA/MDE035276 for the complete meeting schedule.

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