Technical Assistance Response 1

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1 Technical Assistance Response Date: March 23, 2015 To: From: Re: Michigan Department of Education Bersheril Bailey, State Manager, and Beverly Mattson, Ph.D., contributing author, Great Lakes Comprehensive Center Minnesota Support for Turnaround Efforts Description of Minnesota s Support for Turnaround Efforts The Michigan Department of Education requested assistance from the Great Lakes Comprehensive Center (GLCC) in obtaining information on how the Minnesota Department of Education is implementing school turnaround efforts. Michigan identified five questions that the state would like answered about Minnesota s efforts: 1. What is the organization and composition of the Minnesota Department of Education s (MN DOE s) Division of School Support? 2. What are the funding strategies for the state-level offices for turnaround efforts? 3. What are the legal frameworks and turnaround delivery systems (from initiation to its current state) that drive district and school turnaround in Minnesota? 4. What is the Statewide System of Support (SSOS) for turnaround schools in Minnesota? 5. How does Minnesota implement state efforts in the areas of district and school turnaround (including implementation, intervention, progress monitoring, and performance outcomes for gain and non-gain schools )? To address this request for information, GLCC conducted a review of the MN DOE website, relevant state and federal documents, presentations by MN DOE personnel and others, and a telephone interview with a representative of MN DOE. This report presents brief background information on Minnesota demographics before presenting information in response to the five questions. Technical Assistance Response 1

2 Background Information on Minnesota Demographics In Minnesota, for the school year, there are 328 public operating elementary and secondary independent districts, with 2,006 schools serving a total K 12 enrollment of 837,154 students (Minnesota Education Statistics Summary, MN DOE website). The ethnicity of public school students is: American Indian/Alaskan Native 20, % Asian/Pacific Islander 61, % Hispanic 71, % Black, not of Hispanic Origin 98, % White, not of Hispanic Origin 604, % Public special populations include: English learners (ELs) 70, % Special education 128, % Free/reduced-price lunch 328, % Responses to Michigan Department of Education s Questions 1. What is the organization and composition of the MN DOE s Division of School Support? The Division of School Support at MN DOE directly reports to the Commissioner of Education (see MN DOE organizational chart later in this report). The Division supports: the Quality Compensation Program (an alternative teacher compensation and professional development funding system); the statewide system of support for the state s identified Focus and Priority Schools; and the administration of School Improvement Grants. Additionally, the Division provides technical assistance to schools and districts in the areas of educator effectiveness and evaluation, continuous improvement planning, and professional development (Greg Keith, personal communication, March 18, 2015). The Division is headed by Director Greg Keith. According to Mr. Keith, the Division includes two teams: Team for alternative pay, performance, and teacher evaluation Team for the Statewide System of Support (SSOS) and School Improvement Grants (SIGs) The team for alternative pay, performance, and teacher evaluation includes a supervisor and five staff members. The team for the SSOS and SIGs includes a program manager and two staff who indirectly supervise the teams of the six SSOS/Regional Centers teams (Greg Keith, personal communication, March 18, 2015). In addition, the Division includes: One position assigned to principal development and evaluation Two administrative personnel positions One technology position One position for Regional Centers of Excellence for work other than the SSOS Technical Assistance Response 2

3 Cross-Agency Implementation Team (CAIT) Horizontally, the SSOS is coordinated at the state agency by the Cross-Agency Implementation Team. The CAIT includes representation from the Divisions of Academic Standards and Educator Effectiveness, School Support, Special Education, Student Support, and Research and Evaluation. The team also includes the team coordinators and the Regional Center of Excellence directors, representing the SSOS, from across the state. (Greg Keith, personal communication, March 18, 2015). These team meetings support a coordinated system of support for schools that offers consistent quality and activities. The CAIT does the following: Provides expertise in respective content areas Plans the professional development for teams Supports a system-level approach to school improvement Collaborates cross-divisionally and with SSOS school content specialists Reviews program evaluation data and seeks feedback from SSOS staff (Keith & Ziemer, 2014) The CAIT s purpose is to: Collaboratively design and develop materials and resources to be used by staff to support common implementation practices that increase educators ability to improve teaching practices that result in increased student achievement. Provide and exchange ongoing professional development and support to staff as needed, and in response to the needs that emerge in Focus and Priority Schools. 2. What are the funding strategies for the state-level offices for turnaround efforts? According to Mr. Keith, the Division is funded primarily by federal funds that are supplemented with state funds. The administrative funds from Title I funds two positions at MN DOE to facilitate the crossagency implementation teams that direct the work of the regional centers (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014, ESEA Waiver Extension). The source of funding for the Directors and program managers of the Regional Centers of Excellence is state funds. The primary sources of funding for the Statewide System of Support are federal funds, including ESEA funds, School Improvement Grant funds, and administrative funds. Funding for the SSOS personnel at the Regional Centers utilizes the small percentage of Title I funding set aside for that purpose. This amount is allocated to the regional centers of support on a formula basis (based on the number of Focus and Priority Schools in the region) to support a team of regional specialists in the areas of math, reading, English learners instruction, special education programming, and data coaching. (Greg Keith, personal communication, March 18, 2015; Minnesota Department of Education, 2013). Technical Assistance Response 3

4 Minnesota Department of Education Source: Minnesota Department of Education, 2015 Technical Assistance Response 4

5 3. What are the legal frameworks and turnaround delivery systems (from initiation to its current state) that drive district and school turnaround in Minnesota? Differentiated Recognition, Accountability, and Support System Minnesota s ESEA waiver (approved in 2012 and extended in 2014) includes a state-developed differentiated recognition, accountability, and support system using two different ratings for schools: a multiple measurements rating (MMR) and a Focus Rating (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014). The MMR includes metrics for: Proficiency Growth Achievement gap reduction Graduation MN MDOE uses the MMR to identify schools for recognition, accountability, and support (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014). The Focus Rating measures proficiency and growth of minority students and students receiving special services (e.g., English learners, Special Education, Free and Reduced Price Lunch) in the following two domains: Focused Proficiency and Achievement Gap Reduction score compared to statewide targets. MN DOE calculates the Focused Proficiency the same as the MMR Proficiency Domain using fewer student groups. The Achievement Gap Reduction measures the ability of schools to get higher levels of growth from lower-performing student groups than statewide average growth for higher-performing groups (Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Accountability System, 2014). A school s performance on the above measures is determined by student performance on Minnesota s statewide assessments in mathematics and reading and the four-year on-time cohort graduation rate. Title I School Designations Minnesota uses the MMR to further differentiate recognition and accountability for Title I schools. In addition to Reward, Priority, and Focus schools, Minnesota identifies some additional Title I schools for Celebration and Continuous Improvement designations (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014). The designations are as follows: Reward Schools are schools in the top 15 percent of Title I schools. Celebration Schools are the 25 percent of the schools below Reward school cutoff. Continuous Improvement Schools are the lowest 25 percent on MMR that are not identified as Priority or Focus Schools. Technical Assistance Response 5

6 Focus Schools are schools in the lowest 10 percent on the Focus Rating (FR). Priority Schools are schools in the lowest 5 percent on the MMR (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014). The top 15 percent of Title I schools (approximately 125 schools) are identified as Reward Schools. An additional 25 percent of high-performing Title I schools (approximately 210 schools) receive the Celebration Eligible status, with 10 percent of Title I schools (approximately 85 schools) being designated Celebration School (Minnesota Department of Education website (2014), Priority, focus, and reward schools) The bottom 5 percent of Title I schools (approximately 42 schools) are identified as Priority Schools. Ten percent of Title I schools (approximately 85 schools) are identified as Focus Schools. The bottom 25 percent of schools (approximately 210 schools) that are not already identified as Priority or Focus are designated as Continuous Improvement Schools (Minnesota Department of Education website, 2014, Priority, Focus, and Reward schools). 4. What is the Statewide System of Support (SSOS) for turnaround schools in Minnesota? SSOS Purpose and Goals Currently, the state s SSOS includes six Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE). The purposes of the Regional Centers of Excellence are to reduce by half the student achievement gap, increase graduation rates, increase proficiency, and accelerate growth by doing the following: Creating a statewide infrastructure that will support a common, coherent implementation of evidence-based practices and interventions. Providing cohesive focused systemic support to districts and schools to maximize resources, build capacity, and promote sustainability of reform efforts that will significantly increase educational equity, excellence, and efficacy for all students. Applying the Common Principles of Effective Practice (see below) and key components of implementation to support the infrastructure (Dibb, Lindquist, Clark, & Riley, 2013). The Common Principles of Effective Practice include: goals and outcomes, evidence-based programs, data-driven decision making, multi-tiered systems of support, implementation as intended, culturally responsive, aligned with academic standards, and student, parent, and community engagement (Dibb et al., 2013). MN DOE joined with the National Center on State Implementation and Scaling Up of Evidence-based Practices (SISEP) to develop an infrastructure that can be used to scale up high-quality, evidence-based practices across the state. MN DOE provides technical assistance on key components of implementation as well as critical principles of effective practice using the Common Principles of Effective Practice (CPEP) framework (Minnesota Department of Education, Technical Assistance Response 6

7 The primary goal of the Regional Centers of Excellence is to focus schools and districts on closing the persistent achievement gap between high- and low-performing students, especially the achievement gaps between minority and non-minority students and between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014, ESEA Flexibility Request). To achieve the goal, the Center Directors for the SSOS collaboratively work with regional staff, MN DOE, service cooperatives, and each other to raise student achievement and close the achievement gap in Focus and Priority Schools by creating sustainable leadership focused on student growth. NOTE: See responses in this report under question 5.b., Intervention, for additional information about how the SSOS operates with schools. SSOS Specialist Teams consist of personnel with expertise in reading, mathematics, special education, English language development, implementation science, data, and equity. They have weekly regional team meetings, and collaborate monthly with an MN DOE specialist. There is quarterly professional development, including a half-day meeting with MN DOE specialists. They also attend conferences and professional development sessions with Priority and Focus Schools. The Minnesota SSOS has a two-pronged approach to working with schools: (1) improve classroom instruction by implementing evidenced-based instructional strategies, while (2) improving infrastructures in the school. According to MN DOE (Minnesota Department of Education, n.d.d.), the work to improve school infrastructures includes: implementation of state academic standards; alignment of curriculum, instruction and assessment; school leadership teams and teacher learning teams; school culture; family engagement; and continuous improvement processes. Principles for SSOS Theory of Action The Minnesota SSOS theory of action is shaped by three fundamental principles that impact the design and delivery of services to schools: coaching, implementation frameworks, and coordinated statewide systems (Minnesota Department of Education, n.d.d.). Rather than using a directive and compliance-oriented approach, the Minnesota SSOS builds relationships with schools to facilitate change and build capacity through a coaching model. The coaching approach is based on the principles of equality, choice, voice, reflection, dialogue, and praxis. Minnesota uses five implementation frameworks based on implementation science developed by the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) to support system and practice change. The five frameworks include leadership teams, stage-based implementation, implementation drivers, useable interventions, and plan-do-study-act cycles. MN DOE coordinates the SSOS vertically and horizontally. Vertically, the SSOS consists of six regional teams who provide services to schools. The team coordinators meet monthly for program planning and evaluation, and quarterly for professional development and networking. Technical Assistance Response 7

8 Horizontally, the Cross-Agency Implementation Team, described under question 1, coordinates the SSOS. History of SSOS in Minnesota In 2012, the MN DOE launched three Regional Centers of Excellence (RCEs) in collaboration with three regional education service cooperatives to facilitate implementation of the statewide system of support. MN DOE used approximately $3 million of federal Title I funds to support the implementation of the SSOS. Specifically, the funds supported three Center directors and three teams of content area and school improvement specialists, called advocates, to work regionally to support schools through the SSOS model (Dibb et al., 2013; Minnesota Department of Education, n.d.c.). Following the success of the first year of implementation of SSOS with three RCEs in 2012, the Minnesota Legislature established a 2013 statute to expand the network with a focus on the World's Best Workforce goals. Minnesota Law, Chapter 116, Article 2, Section 7, states: Regional centers of excellence are established to assist and support school boards, school districts, school sites, and charter schools in implementing research-based interventions and practices to increase the students' achievement within a region. The statute included the proposed evaluation tools to be used to measure the extent to which the desired results were achieved. At that time, the Minnesota legislature appropriated $2 million over a two-year period for the Centers (Dibb et al., 2013). As of , there are now six RCEs serving Priority and Focus Schools (Keith & Ziemer, 2014). 5. How does Minnesota implement state efforts in the areas of district and school turnaround (including implementation, intervention, progress monitoring, and performance outcomes for gain and non-gain schools )? 5.a. Implementation (by Priority and Focus Schools) Priority Schools Implement turnaround plans. Priority Schools implement turnaround plans based on the turnaround principles outlined in the ESEA Flexibility guidance. All Priority Schools develop a detailed action plan on how they will address the specific root causes of the school s Priority identification, whether it is based on a lack of student growth, an achievement gap with a specific subgroup, overall student proficiency, or low graduation rates, or multiple issues. The schools submit the plans to MN DOE through the SSOS. MN DOE then reviews the plans for fidelity with an established set of action standards. In addition, Priority Schools have the opportunity to partner with Reward Schools to share best practices and collaborate on school improvement activities (Minnesota Department of Education, 2013). Technical Assistance Response 8

9 Use Title I funding. To achieve turnaround, MN DOE requires Priority Schools to set aside 20 percent of their Title I funds for state-approved school improvement activities. District involvement and requirements. District leadership involvement in the building leadership teams is paramount, and the action plans speak specifically to how the district will oversee plan implementation. The districts with Priority Schools must complete a district-wide needs assessment to provide direction and context for the Priority School s school improvement plan. The district must also use the results of the needs assessment to create a plan to address any weaknesses in the district s ability to implement improvement plans within Priority Schools (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014). Focus Schools Implement action plans. All Focus Schools develop a detailed action plan for addressing the specific root causes of the school s identification, whether it is based on subgroups with low levels of proficiency, subgroups with low levels of growth, or low graduation rates, or a combination of these issues. The schools submit the plans to MN DOE through the SSOS. MN DOE reviews the plans for fidelity with an established set of action standards. Improvement plans are the basis of the technical support and improvement efforts at the building level (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014). Use Title I funding. To close achievement gaps and improve graduation rates, Focus Schools are required to set aside 20 percent of their Title I funds for state-approved school improvement activities. These funds must be earmarked in a Focus School s school improvement plan to ensure that resources are being directed to the specific aspects of a school s plan. The approval of a Focus School s Title I application is dependent on the approval of their improvement plan, and the earmarked funds within that plan. Only activities that are tied to interventions for the subgroups for which Focus Schools were identified are approved as uses of the 20 percent setaside (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014). District involvement and requirements. The districts of Focus Schools must complete a district-- wide needs assessment to provide direction and context for the Focus School s school improvement plan. The district must also use the results of the needs assessment to create a plan to address any weaknesses in the district s ability to implement improvement plans within Focus Schools. Minnesota statute requires all districts to have Educational Improvement Plans, which serve as the foundation for the process of district assessment and improvement planning. MN DOE requires districts to update their Educational Improvement Plans based on the results of the needs assessment with the goal of improving their capacity to facilitate targeted support for the Focus Schools (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014). Non-compliance of Focus Schools. Title I funds may be subject to deferral from districts that fail to comply with the school improvement requirements at Focus Schools until they have taken positive steps. The positive steps may include: submitting an improvement plan, completing a Title I budget that reflects the priorities in the improvement plan, or beginning to implement activities included in the improvement plan. Mandatory set-asides for state-approved district improvement activities may be put in place if districts with Focus Schools persistently fail to improve student achievement (Minnesota Department of Education, 2014) Technical Assistance Response 9

10 Key Activities of SSOS With Schools The graphic below presents the key activities that are facilitated in schools by SSOS team members and activities that team members engage in to plan support for schools (Minnesota Department of Education, n.d.d.). The first four activities represent a sequential series that lays the foundation for the ongoing work in schools. 5.b. Intervention (Technical Assistance/Support From SSOS) Interventions Across Priority and Focus Schools Initial contact with schools and districts. Once MN DOE identifies a school, the regional teams make initial contact with the school and district leaders. During that initial meeting, there is a discussion and negotiation on the roles and responsibilities of the school, district, and SSOS team members. (Each school has one assigned SSOS team member who acts as that school s advocate. In the advocate role, SSOS team members connect schools to needed resources, act as communicators and liaisons, and facilitate planning and the improvement of school infrastructures. Each team member also plays the role of a specialist for schools in the team s region). Next, during the meeting, there is a discussion on the definition of continuous improvement and staff shares the SSOS theory of action and the coaching approach (Minnesota Department of Education, n.d.d.) Initial inquiry with schools. The SSOS team and schools use a series of assessment tools and discussion protocols to provide an overview of the school s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for improvement, and threats. The process includes brief interviews with school personnel and an inventory of the school s programming. Establishing a functional school leadership team. A functional school leadership team is defined by the SSOS Leadership Team Rubric. The Rubric helps the team assess itself and define the team in areas such as organization, functions, communications, focus, and use of data. The Technical Assistance Response 10

11 SSOS offers a series of leadership team trainings which focus on the SSOS improvement process, the use of data, the implementation of academic standards, the implementation frameworks, and team processes. Needs assessment to define priorities. The leadership team engages in a continuous needs assessment process that defines priorities and the implementation of evidence-based practices. The SSOS works intensively with schools on data review, analyses, and uses. Based on the needs assessment, the teams identify two or three areas for their initial work and conduct root cause analyses. Leadership team plans, monitors, and documents implementation. Using the SSOS s Record of Continuous Improvement, teams are led through a stage-based implementation approach using ongoing plan-do-study-act cycles. Teams use feedback loops for progress monitoring that include collecting and documenting evidence of effort, fidelity of implementation, and impact on student learning. This process facilitates schools responses to implementation needs by using the research-based competency, organization, and leadership drivers. During this time, SSOS teams work on-site with school teams to: Determine current operational and performance status of the school Assist in planning strategic interventions and infrastructure development to address identified needs Provide coaching, training, and technical assistance to support implementation Monitor progress and support modifications by using the SSOS five rubrics aligned to school infrastructures and the Records of Continuous Improvement (Minnesota Department of Education, n.d.d). 5.c. Progress Monitoring According to the MN DOE s SSOS continuous improvement and program evaluation plan, the collection of evidence for progress monitoring of Priority and Focus Schools addresses the following eight questions: 1. To what extent does MN DOE provide support to advocates around improved infrastructures in the schools and evidenced-based instructional strategies? 2. To what extent does SSOS support vary by region? 3. To what extent are districts assisting schools to improve infrastructures, implement evidenced-based instructional strategies, and improve student achievement? 4. To what extent is the continuous improvement process being implemented in schools? To what extent is improvement sustainable? 5. To what extent does evidence exist in schools to show fidelity of implementation around evidenced-based instructional strategies? 6. To what extent are school infrastructures improving? 7. To what extent is sustained progress being made to close the achievement gap in half by 2015 measured by MMR increases and proficiency rate and growth z scores in both math and reading? Technical Assistance Response 11

12 8. To what extent does progress vary by school, by designation, by region, by SIG status? (Minnesota Department of Education, n.d.b.) MN DOE collects and analyzes the following evidence/data to answer the above questions: Effort data for the RCE s staff time, activities, and resources (CESTAR) Tracks efforts and outcomes, links efforts to Work Plan, guides support provided and needed, hosts resources, and collects school implementation and achievement data. CESTAR data reviewed twice a year Topics and evaluations of professional development reviewed annually Implementation and fidelity data SRAS (System of Recognition, Accountability, & Support) self-assessment results (periodic reviews) Annual school surveys Record of Continuous Improvement (RCI) This Record of Continuous Improvement uses the NIRN frameworks and implementation science to help schools establish a facilitated network of support for sustainable change. Reviewed quarterly Rubrics for Leadership Teams, Learning Teams, the RCI, and Family and Community Engagement. Each rubric is organized by structures, critical features, and stages of implementation (awareness, developing, succeeding) Rubric reviews conducted quarterly Minnesota Common Principles of Effective Practice (CPEP) School Profiles twice a year Annual impact data Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) results Access for English language learners developed by World-Class Instructional Design and Assessments (WIDA) MMR results Focus Rating (FR) results Comparison of results across programs (Dibb et al. 2013; Keith & Ziemer, 2014; Minnesota Department of Education, n.d.a.) 5.d. Performance Outcomes According to Keith and Ziemer (2014), MDE reports the following progress of Priority and Focus schools: Technical Assistance Response 12

13 Priority School Progress 17 of the 42 Priority Schools designated in 2012 were no longer designated as Priority Schools by 2013, with seven Priority Schools eligible for Celebration School Recognition and two Reward School designations 78 percent of Priority Schools demonstrated improvement on the MMR from 2012 to 2013, with 33 percent improved by 20+ MMR percentage points Focus School Progress 10 of the 85 Focus Schools designated in 2012 no longer had Focus designation in 2013, with 14 Focus Schools eligible for Celebration School recognition and one Reward School recognition 71 percent of the Focus Schools demonstrated improvement on the Focus Rating from 2012 to 2013; 30 percent improved by 20+ FR percentage points. A MN DOE press release (Minnesota Department of Education, October 2014) reported: 74 percent of Priority Schools, that worked closely with the Regional Centers of Excellence, demonstrated better student growth in 2014 than in percent of Priority Schools, that worked closely with the centers, are doing a better job today of closing achievement gaps than they were in percent of all schools, initially designated as Priority or Focus, improved to the point that they are no longer designated as low-performing. Since being designated as Priority or Focus Schools in 2012, nearly 20 percent of schools, working with the state, improved so much that they are now being recognized for strong performance by receiving the Celebration Eligible or Reward designation. Focus schools, working with the centers, are also making strides in closing gaps about 54 percent have better achievement gap closure now than in In just one year, between 2013 and 2014, almost 20 percent of schools across the state improved their MMR score by more than 10 points, and 7 percent improved by more than 20 points. Non-gain schools. According to MN DOE s ESEA Flexibility Request (2014), if a Priority School finishes its three-year period of identification only to be re-identified as a Priority School by finishing in the bottom five percent of schools, the school will be subject to restructuring. In the event that a Focus School regresses, the SSOS and MN DOE will work with the school to identify areas where improvement is needed. Technical Assistance Response 13

14 Sources: Dibb, S., Lundquist, A., Clark, A., & Riley, S. (2013). Minnesota state/regional partnership to advance student achievement. Presentation at the 2013 Association of Educational Service Agencies (AESA) Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX. Retrieved from Keith, G., & Ziemer, E. (2014, September). Minnesota s Regional Centers of Excellence: Statewide System of Support. Presentation at the Center on School Turnaround Conference, Building Systemic and Sustainable Turnaround Efforts, Burlingame, CA. Retrieved from Minnesota Department of Education. (n.d.a). Continuous improvement in districts and schools Website. Roseville, MN: Author. Retrieved from Minnesota Department of Education. (n.d.b). SSOS continuous improvement and program evaluation plan. Roseville, MN: Author. Minnesota Department of Education. (n.d.c). Statewide System of Support. Roseville, MN: Author. Retrieved from Minnesota Department of Education. (n.d.d). Statewide System of Support theory of action. Roseville, MN: Author Minnesota Department of Education. (2013, December). School Improvement Grants Application for FY Submitted to U.S. Department of Education. Roseville, MN: Author. Retrieved from Minnesota Department of Education (2014). ESEA Flexibility Request. Waiver Extension. Submitted to U.S. Department of Education. Approved July 31, Roseville, MN: Author. Retrieved from Minnesota Department of Education. (2014, October). State releases data showing support to schools is working, highlights where additional support is needed. (Press Release.) Roseville, MN; Author. Retrieved from Minnesota Department of Education. (2015). Minnesota Department of Education organizational chart. Roseville, MN: Author. Technical Assistance Response 14

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