Minnesota EL – Equity ESSA Plan Initiative

Building on the strengths of two strong education equity advocacy organizations in Minnesota–the Coalition for Asian American Leaders (CAAL) and Minnesota Education Equity Partnership MnEEP)– founded the Minnesota Multilingual Equity Network which launched the MN EL –ESSA Initiative in 2016.  This Initiative aims to coordinate major conversations with representatives of multilingual organizations and with multiethnic families and students most impacted by English Language Learner school policies and practices in the state.  We have direct educator and community/family representation from the Latino, Hmong, Karen and Somali communities of Minnesota. Through this culturally responsive community engagement, an EL-ESSA stakeholder advisory group was formed to represent a vital equity agenda for ESSA EL-specific state plan recommendations.

In June 2017, the Initiative launched it’s policy brief:

ESSA-PolicyPaper-Final-Web-image

ESSA Policy Paper Final Web (PDF)

ESSA Policy Paper Final Web (ePub)

Policy Brief Press Release(PDF)

This Initiative receives financial and technical support from the Migration Policy Institute–funded by The McKnight Foundation and The Joyce Foundation.

What is ESSA?

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the newly revised version of a federal law first created in 1965: the Elementary & Secondary Education Act. This landmark law had the goal of better serving historically disadvantaged groups of students through funding dollars to States. It has been rewritten several times since 1965. The 2002 version was called No Child Left Behind (NCLB). ESSA became law in 2015 and will be fully implemented in the 2017-2018 school year.

To understand the importance of ESSA, it is helpful to know how the federal government’s approach to school accountability has changed over the years. The key concepts to keep in mind are flexibility in how states and school districts help historically disadvantaged groups of students and how they are held accountable for doing so. Flexibility is also thought of as local control. ESSA now balances both flexibility and accountability when historically one had more weight over the other.

Understanding the origins of racial disparities in education, and ESEA coming from the 1964 Civil Rights Act, ESSA is grounded in civil rights and therefore education provisions must address such disparities. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. Examples of discrimination covered by Title VI include racial harassment, school segregation, and denial of language services to English learners.

Student outcomes will still comprise a majority of the accountability system, but with more meaningful indicators that include:

  • Proficiency in state learning standards still counts, like NCLB.
  • Student growth or another academic indicator must be included for elementary students.
  • Graduation rates are included for high schools.
  • English language proficiency would also be incorporated for English learners.
  • At least one more indicator is also required. States get to choose how to define this. It could include things like chronic absenteeism, access to advanced course work, suspension and expulsion data, and freshman-on-track rates.

All states are required to submit a new state plan to the U.S. Department of Education for the 2018-2019 school year. For more information on the specifics of ESSA, refer to Ed Trust.

MN Department of Education ESSA Timeline

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is in communication with districts, stakeholders, and the general public throughout the process of developing Minnesota’s new plan, which will be submitted in September 2017. MDE has been hosting listening sessions, focus groups, and formal committees and work groups since spring 2016 to draft the state plan through meaningful stakeholder and community engagement.

December 2015: ESSA signed into law.

April, May, and June 2016: Regular topic area meetings with stakeholder groups to explore ESSA’s contents and hear from stakeholders on their questions and priorities.

July to December 2016: Committees in various areas convened to inform Minnesota’s state plan.

December 2016: USDE released final new regulations.

January to May 2017: Workgroups and accountability committee continue to develop Minnesota’s state plan.

February 2017: US Congress repealed most final regulations from December 2016.

April 18, 2017: First public update convening on preliminary decisions.

June 15, 2017: Second public update convening on preliminary decisions.

May, June, and July 2017: MDE writes draft state plan.

August 2017: Public comment period for draft state plan.

September 2017: Revision from public comments and submission to USDE.

2018-2019 School Year: ESSA takes effect.

For more information from MDE, visit their website (link: http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/dse/essa/)