Minnesota may change how it evaluates schools

Published 9:12 pm Monday, August 14, 2017

ST. PAUL — Minnesota officials have drafted a plan that would change how the state evaluates school performance.

The proposal calls for evaluating schools based on state test scores, how many students move up a level on state tests, graduation rates, progress for students learning English and school attendance.

Although many of the metrics would remain the same, schools wouldn’t receive a single overall grade.

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Officials said the changes would raise achievement and get rid of disparities, though critics argue the new measurements would lower the bar.

“I don’t think the current proposal provides enough information to the public,” said Andrea Roethke, director of the education advocacy group Ed Allies.

Roethke said the system could effectively identify low-performing schools, but it wouldn’t provide the community with a way to make sense of all the data.

Ratings help the state determine which schools need extra money and support. Under the proposal, low-performing schools would be flagged and required to create an improvement plan that the state would monitor.

The proposed system would also give low-performing schools more staff training, increased access to regional specialists and the opportunity to apply for state grants.

While the state data would be helpful, Bloomington Public Schools plans to continue to administer its own metrics to monitor the district’s schools, said David Heistad, the district’s research, evaluation and assessment director.

“I’m more interested in really having actionable information,” Heistad said.

The Minnesota Department of Education is expected to have a public comment period on the proposed system, and then seek federal approval in September.