New State Education Benchmarks Impacts Local Schools
A Brooklyn Park elementary school is among those identified as “in need of extra help.” That’s according to a new system designed to provide a better picture of school performance. The Minnesota Department of Education will provide the extra help, which involves collaboration with parents, teachers and leaders of local schools.
In years past, the state used test scores to spot schools that need extra support. Now, there are multiple benchmarks to measure success and flag those in need of improvement. State Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius says the old approach didn’t move the bar fast enough for kids in need of extra help.
“We’re really excited to get started on this work and to start supporting our teachers in a new way that’s not just focused on test scores, but on those real things that matter around student instruction and teacher practice,” said Cassellius.
Schools That Need “Comprehensive Support”
Crest View Elementary in Brooklyn Park was among 47 schools that the state says needs “comprehensive support.” The designation means the school ranked toward the bottom across multiple measurements. Those measurements could include attendance, graduation rates, progress made by students learning English and improvement on test scores. Comprehensive support is the most substantial level of state support. The Education commissioner calls it “an all hands-on-deck system.”
“We actually go right at the school as critical friends to look at the data,” said Cassellius. “Sometimes schools in the past may have had plans, but maybe didn’t have the right resources to implement those plans. So we want to be sure to guarantee that they’re able to make those plans actionable, and to start getting results for every single kid and that kids aren’t falling through the cracks. “
New System Celebrates Achievements Too
Cassellius says the new system isn’t just meant to flag failing schools, but also schools that have achieved success.
“If we don’t look at both, it’s hard for us to know where success is happening,” said Cassellius. “And so that’s a key critical element to see where those pockets of success are happening and ensure even greater success happens across most of our schools, not just some of them.”
Education Minnesota, the state’s teachers union, applauded the new accountability system. The union group says the new “North Star” system “will give local communities a new way to organize for their schools and hold their local leaders accountable if they don’t deliver.”