ESSA Accountability Advisory Committee covers weighting of indicators and option for grade span accountability


The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Accountability Advisory Committee held their fourth meeting on Thursday, September 29, in Roseville.

The committee’s agenda included:
1. Report from the school quality/student success subcommittee
2. Discussion of weighting of indicators at different grades
3. Discussion of the grade span option for accountability
4. Advisory Committee Input Document (draft)
5. Wrap up and next steps

A subcommittee determined the fifth indicator (school quality/student success) of the accountability system. For the short term, the indicator should focus on equity for all students. In the long term, this subcommittee would like this fifth indicator to capture change at the local level. The change would be balanced, student-centered and meaningful.

The discussion shifted to the weighting (which will be determined by the state) of each of the following indicators:
1. Proficiency on state tests
2. Progress in achieving English language proficiency
3. Short-term growth on state tests (elementary and middle school only)
4. Graduation rates (high school)
5. School quality/student success (state-developed indicator)

ESSA requires that the first four indicators be given “much greater weight” than the fifth indicator.

In preparation for the regional meetings with the Minnesota Department of Education, go through the exercise and share what your school district’s starting point would be:

Elementary school
Proficiency: ____ percent
English language proficiency: ____ percent
Growth: ____ percent
School quality/student success: ____ percent

Middle school
Proficiency: ____ percent
English language proficiency: ____ percent
Growth: ____ percent
School quality/student success: ____ percent

High school
Proficiency: ____ percent
English language proficiency: ____ percent
Graduation rate: ____ percent
Career/College Readiness: ____ percent

The next topic on the agenda was Grade Span Accountability, a subject revisited from the last meeting by Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. In general, this means we would be measuring academic growth at every grade while using the proficiency measurement for accountability purposes at certain grade levels. The discussion wrapped up with a straw poll by those in attendance. Two options were brought forward:

  • Option A: Include growth in math and reading for all grades (except grade 3) and proficiency for math and reading for certain grades.
  • Option B: Include proficiency and growth at every grade level. Assign proficiency at a much greater weight in exit grades.

There was not consensus due to the fact that many in the room believe this approach would be rejected by the U.S. Department of Education. Which option would you prefer?

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

Visit for more information about these ESSA Regional Meetings.

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.

The Accountability Advisory Committee’s next meeting is schedules for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, October 27, at the MDE office in Roseville.

Visit for more information about these meetings.

About mnmsba

The Minnesota School Boards Association, a leading advocate for public education, supports, promotes and strengthens the work of public school boards.
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