Minnesota School Boards Association’s Summer Seminar was a great opportunity to learn new things and refresh on others. Commissioner Brenda Cassellius once again graciously gave her time to three breakout sessions for our members. It was a wonderful opportunity to share thoughts and ask questions. Here are some highlights:
Assessments – There were several questions and comments regarding the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA). Currently Minnesota public schools are required to participate in the statewide assessment program. Reading and mathematics tests are administered in grades 3–8 and high school (students in grade 10 take the Reading MCA, and students in grade 11 take the Mathematics MCA). The Science MCA is administered to students in grades 5 and 8 and in the high school grade when students take a life science or biology course. With very few exceptions, all public school students in the above grades take the MCA. Cassellius asked members to consider a change in when we “count” the MCA results and use them for exit grade data. For example, perhaps we still test grades 3-5, but only use grade 5 data for accountability purposes.
She urged members to utilize the Math Tool Kit, which looks at the level of difficulty, scope and sequencing to see where the gap is between what is being taught and what is tested.
Special Education – Cassellius reiterated that Governor Dayton places a high priority on eliminating obstacles to some of the roadblocks in special education, especially the teacher shortage and paperwork.
World’s Best Workforce & Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – Cassellius hopes for plain language and streamlined processes as we work on ESSA. She encourages school board members, parents and other stakeholders to be engaged. In an effort to get some ideas churning, Cassellius challenged members to think about what they would do if they were required to set aside 2 percent.
Cassellius mentioned two things a number of times during the three breakout sessions: 1) “Stay focused and be sure everyone is on the same page.” And “You should be asking for forgiveness, not permission.” She encourages all to become more involved in the ESSA by participating in the discussion. Watch here for more information on where and how to participate.