The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) hosted two more of its Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Topic Meetings this week at its office in Roseville.
MSBA’s Government Relations staff attended both meetings, please see their highlights below.
Monday, May 2: Foster Care and Homeless Youth
The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act ensures a student experiencing homelessness the right to receive a free, appropriate public education free of barriers. School districts must keep the best interest of the student first when it comes to education placement and work to keep the student in the school he/she attended before homelessness occurred. Transportation must be provided.
The ESSA requirements change the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to strengthen the school stability requirements and the provisions regarding access. The ESSA modifies certain definitions of “homeless children and youth” and “school or origin.” The new requirements remove the provision for children awaiting foster care and increases funding levels for subgrants. Annual report cards must contain student achievement for those in foster care, as well as high school graduation rates.
Some remarks and questions from the 50-plus participants included:
- A question of how MDE was going to assemble the work groups. An MDE rep said they would be looking to have experts in certain areas attend the work groups. They will also be looking at anyone essential that might be missing from the group.
- Will there be organized efforts to proactively reorganize student data portability?
- A member urged MDE to work closely with Hennepin County on free and reduced lunch benefits for the foster children.
- A participant urged the creation of an education stability group — specifically to deal with the official activities foster care children must attend, such as court dates that are outside the student’s control and should not be penalized for. Currently many receive unexcused absences.
Wednesday, May 4: Guidance Regarding Title Program and Requirements
MDE reminded those in attendance that draft regulations from the federal government are not complete so everything discussed Wednesday was a response to the past (ESEA and NCLB) and current law (ESSA).
These listening sessions are the first step — but not the only step — to engage stakeholders. Here are the estimated timelines:
- May/June — The U.S. Department of Education will issue draft regulations to states.
- June/July — Topic area work groups will be formed and will work through the summer before holding regional meetings.
- August/October — Regional meetings to lay out ESSA requirements and framework.
- October — U.S. Department of Education is expected to issue final regulations.
- November/December — Final work group discussions.
- Early 2017 — Minnesota will be prepared to submit its ESSA state plan Minnesota will want to be one of the first to states to submit their plan.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was enacted in 1965 and many of the components are incorporated into ESSA. ESEA was landmark legislation since it was the first time federal government dollars were used in eligible school districts with concentrations of low-income students. This act established the principle that federal title funding would supplement, not supplant. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) brought its own requirements and most agree it was an overreach of federal government into public schools. In an attempt to fix NCLB, the 2007 waiver system moved from a punitive system to a system that rewards performance. With the 2015 passage of ESSA, the federal government transitions some decision-making back to the state. However, the original purpose of the law or the basic premise has not changed.
What we know about ESSA:
In general, the emphasis is on ALL children while maintaining a focus on targeted populations. There is not necessarily more funding, but more flexibility.
- Title I: To provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps.
- Title II: Improve effectiveness of teachers, principals and other school leaders providing instruction to low-income and minority students.
- Title III: Ensure English learners attain English proficiency and develop high levels in academic achievement in English.
So what is new? Here are some of the issues Minnesota as a state and school districts will need to grapple with.
- Title I program models must include at least one indicator of school quality or student success incorporating the concept of a well-rounded education.
- The states may approve schoolwide programs at schools with less than 40 percent of children from low-income backgrounds. Previously, the threshold was schools with greater than 40 percent poverty.
- Professional development requirement is removed; however, there is still the expectation of high-quality teachers.
- An ombudsman is required to ensure equity between private/public equity.
- Supplement not supplant — aggregate expenditures vs. individual for maintenance of effort. Tracking of this principle is an aggregate amount of state plus federal spending as opposed to tracking each expenditure as required under NCLB.
- States must collect and publicly report on disparities that result in students of low income and students of color being taught by ineffective, inexperienced, and out-of-field teachers at higher rates than others.
- Federal funding formula will be based more on poverty indicators.
- Evidence-based measurement is emphasized in professional development and class-size reduction.
- English Learner (EL) replaces LEP.
- Add EL with disabilities and long-term ELs.
- Family engagement is required.
Given the parameters of ESSA that we have outlined, MDE is interested in hearing from YOU. Please take the time to respond or get involved. Contact MDE officials at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-582-8200.
- What ideas do you have?
- What opportunities do you see for Minnesota?
- Are there possibilities to build off of existing state or federal efforts?
- Where are the possibilities to align with ongoing initiatives?
Official notes and frequently asked questions from all the meetings will eventually be posted on the MDE website.
MDE continues to encourage all interested stakeholders to learn and contribute in this process. The next meeting, on “Social-Emotional Learning, School Climate, Healthy Learning Environments,” is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, at the MDE office in Roseville (Conference Center B, Room 15).
The final meeting, “Family Engagement” is slated for 10 a.m. Thursday, May 12 (in Conference Center B, Room 16).
Visit http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/SchSup/ESSA/MDE035276 for the complete meeting schedule.