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Minnesota Aims to Ratchet Down Achievement Gap

Education Week (02/26/14) Vol. 33, No. 22, P. 1 McNeil, Michele

Minnesota is using its No Child Left Behind Act waiver to issue progress reports to districts on achievement gaps for small subgroups of at-risk students and is relying on regional centers to help struggling schools. This is contrary to other state methods that focus on A-F grading systems, state takeover districts, and supersubgroups of at-risk students. Minnesota's efforts have put 75 percent of districts on track to reduce their achievement gaps by 50 percent by 2017 for nearly all of their subgroups. In 2012-13, graduation rates for black students rose six times the rate of white students from the prior year, and more than 70 percent of the state's lowest-performing "priority" and "focus" schools have demonstrated improvement on test scores. The state wants to reduce achievement gaps by 50 percent for all eight subgroups of students by 2017, and about 40 percent of districts are on track to meet that goal for all subgroups. Among other things, the state is increasing literacy training, focusing on state and local data teams to help teachers, and increasing use of regional support centers to help the lowest-performing schools. State Education Commissioner Dr. Brenda Cassellius says, "We are not taking over schools. They should find the solutions. Every kid has a predicted growth score now. Every kid matters. Even if they're proficient. ... You still want them to grow-every school and every subgroup."
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