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      A new era of accountability for Minnesota's schools

      Posted on May 23, 2012 at 12:56 PM


      This week, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released information about how schools across the state are doing. Unlike years past, this year, the ratings look a little different.

      The ratings are based on a new accountability system – made possible with the approval of Minnesota’s No Child Left Behind (NLCB) waiver - that provides a better, fairer picture of how Minnesota schools are actually doing.

      The new system is a vast improvement from the previous system, which measured schools solely based on a single high-stakes test to determine an Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) score.  That limited snapshot resulted in a system that unfairly mislabeled and over labeled schools as failing – even schools that were performing at high levels.

      Now, with the new Multiple Measurement Rating (MMR) system, schools will be evaluated on a number of equally measured criteria. MDE will take into consideration:

      • Proficiency - How are students scoring on state tests?

      • Student growth - How are students making progress toward their goals?

      • Achievement gap reduction – How are schools doing to close the performance gaps among groups of students?

      • Graduation rate – How many students are graduating from high school each year?

      Along with the new MMR scores, there are three new designations that some schools – those that receive federal Tiltle 1 funding - will receive:

      • Reward School: The highest-performing 15% of Title I schools in the state. The state named 128 schools in this category.

      • Focus School: The 10% of Title I schools making the biggest contribution to the state’s achievement gap. There are 85 schools that received this designation.

      • Priority School: The five percent most-persistently low-performing Title I schools in the state. There are 42 schools that received this designation.

      One of the most exciting parts of the new system is that in addition to providing resources and support to the schools that are not doing well, MDE will be distinguishing the schools that are truly beating the odds.  Not only will a new list of Reward Schools be announced and recognized each year for their great work, but MDE will be looking to them as models of best practices that can be shared in classrooms across the state.

      Newly created Regional Centers for Excellence will play a critical role in supporting schools designated as Priority Schools. These centers are solely designed and devoted to working with these schools to develop a locally designed school improvement plans. 

      Similarly, schools designated as Focus Schools will work with their district to develop a school improvement plan that directly addresses poor performance either within a subgroup, or in graduation rates.

      Minnesota’s new accountability system takes into account the unique challenges facing each community.  It provides schools with new flexibility to develop local plans that address their particular needs, and sets in place a system of statewide support that recognizes that student success is a responsibility we all – parents, educators, communities and policymakers – share.

      To see your school’s rating, visit the Data Center on the MDE website. Choose the, “What is our Multiple Measurement Rating.” box to search for data for your school and see the rating under the new system. Choose the ‘For Parents’ search box to see data results that are summarized reports based on the information that is most requested.

      In the News: read local stories about the MMR ratings

      Kare 11: Minnesota Unveils new system to measure school success

      Winona Daily News: Jefferson elementary one of state’s best

      Brainerd Dispatch: Lowell Elementary School earns quite the ‘Reward’ according to new state results

      The Bemidji Pioneer: Three area schools receive state distinction

      Edina Patch: Edina Schools Post High Scores on Accountability Tests

      Marshall Independent: Local schools weigh in on new measurement for educational achievement

      Mankato: Local schools shine in new evaluations

      Minnesota Public Radio: State’s program a better measurement of Minn. Schools, education office says

      Pioneer Press: Minnesota schools say farewell to No Child Left Behind