Districts, Schools and Educators

Public comments on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) draft state plan

as of 8/14/17

Title I, Part A: Accountability. Please share your ideas about how this section of the ESSA state plan could be improved to promote equity and support your students and schools.

  1. With the WBWF goal of Reading we'll by 3rd grade it would be beneficial for more supports to be able to reach these students. I understand this could be a legislative issue.
  2. So a teacher teaches say 2/3rds of the standards in the 2/3rds of the year before the test, but the student is expected to learn ALL the standards? Students should receive some credit if they partially meet the standards.
  3. Less is more. The state about every 10 years comes out with the latest and greatest. Support our district without hampering them with more information requests. Small school districts are getting strangled as 1-3 people do all the reporting. Don't keep adding unless you take something away. Year 11 in MN for me now and not once have I seen reduction in testing or reporting.
  4. No longer require assessment/test scores to be 30% of teacher evaluation. Leave that up to local districts.
  5. Make the students accountable for learning too. Don't pass them just to move them on if they aren't progressing
  6. Please continue to make z scores available to school districts. We have set long term district, school, and instructional goals around this metric.
  7. While the state ESSA plan makes strides in providing resources to in-need schools, I have concerns about a lack of simple accountability data in the form of a per school summative rating for all MN schools. As a teacher of EL students with families, I see firsthand the difficulty families have navigating digital data platforms. Data concerning accountability indicators (achievement, absenteeism, etc) need to be translated into a easy-to-understand resource guide for parents. In order to contextualize this rating, I would like to see a short color coded progress report showing strengths, programming options, and simple data for transparency purposes.
  8. My name is Anthony Hernandez and I'm a 2nd grade teacher at Global Academy in Columbia Heights. I teach all subjects to my second graders and this upcoming school year will be my sixth year of teaching. I was interested in ESSA because I've been fortunate to teach at a beating-the-odds school and I know that a high-poverty school that closes and surpasses the achievement gap is the exception rather than the rule. Throughout 2016 I was a member of the Department's ESSA Accountability Working Group. I also attended a small group meeting with Commissioner Cassellius on February 6, 2016 and an Educators For Excellence ESSA Educators Forum with the Commissioner on September 27, 2016. It is critical that the accountability system's indicators evaluate every school in Minnesota, not just Title I schools, on all subgroups. I think it's a bold step towards equity to hold every single school accountable for all students and not allow certain groups to "hide" underperforming subgroups in their data. One particular area of concern is the funnel system used to identify the lowest 5% of Title I schools. I appreciate that MDE is trying to concentrate resources on the neediest of schools at the time of identification. However, it seems that a weighted point system would be a better identification system and avoid a situation like the following: Under the funnel system, a school could be in the 1st percentile of academic achievement, advance to the next level of the funnel, happen to be in the 26th percentile for academic progress and be deemed not in need of comprehensive support. A weighted systems, that uses all the factors (academic achievement, academic progress, consistent attendance) simultaneously would be a better measure of which schools we need to focus our limited resources on.
  9. I am fortunate enough to serve the scholars of Hiawatha Collegiate High School as a 9th Grade Speech and Composition teacher. Over 12 years as an educator, I have learned that elected officials are vital to supporting our future leaders. I am concerned by the lack of a summative rating in the accountability measures within the draft plan. The lack of a summative rating minimizes the impact of the existing accountability measures. In avoiding a frank and direct assessment of school performance we diminish the trust that parents, students and citizens require of schools and officials. In my classroom, I work with students every day to think critically about their performance. They know that grades are not the end of their learning but the beginning. Sitting with students like Bemnet or Diego, I have been able to show them that a sudden staggering C on their report card may look terrifying, but when you reveal that the root of the problem is just a failure to follow through on applying transition words or comma rules, the issue becomes manageable and the success seems palpable. The less transparent I am about performance, the more frustrated my students and their parents are. The more clearly I can articulate what the issue is through specific scales and data points, the better my classroom becomes. At the same time, I show my students clearly how we are performing as a class, and how I am performing as their teacher. Modeling my own awareness of struggles, challenges, and commitment to improve helps me to guide students through the learning process to genuine learning and growth. We expect students to see grades and grow. We trust teachers to be direct and transparent in performance and change. The citizens of Minnesota deserve a clear, direct, and transparent system to see where we are and how we will grow. I urge the Minnesota Department of Education to include a summative rating in the public reporting dashboard, alongside specific scores in contributing categories.
  10. Since EL students by definition are students who "lack the necessary English skills to participate fully in academic classes taught in English," the expectation that 85% of third grade EL students achieve proficiency in reading/language arts is illogical. We are asking 85% of the EL population to do what they, by definition, are likely not yet able to do.
  11. there was a huge improvement in ESSA not counting EL students' achievement scores until their third year, it still leaves 3rd graders who began school in the U.S. in Kindergarten and 1st grade (and possibly 2nd grade as it wasn't clear how growth would be calculated for 3rd grade students in year 2) in a position of needing to perform better than they should be able to by definition. I applaud Minnesota's efforts to put an emphasis on growth by only looking at growth of year 2 for ELs; however, the continued hard line of proficiency creates unreasonable expectations for many of our students.
  12. we should have expectations that students are growing and are ready to exit EL services in a timely manner (as determined by research: it takes 4-7 years to attain proficiency in academic English, possibly more depending on their academic language abilities in their first language) and that upon exiting (or near exiting), they are able to perform comparably to their peers.
  13. I don't see how you can claim "accountability" for graduation rate improvement until you establish some standard for what it means to receive a high school diploma. That is, there ought to be some sort of graduation test that you have to pass to graduate. If you don't pass, you can still get a "qualified" diploma, or go back for remedial aid until you do pass. But graduation ought to mean something.