ESSA Update: April 18 State Plan Update Meeting, Tribal Consultations and more

ESSA Masthead

March 31, 2017

Commissioner meets with leaders of tribal nations throughout state

ESSA requires state education agencies (SEAs) and some individual school districts to consult with tribes on various education plans affecting American Indian students. Tribal consultation is an important part of making sure that input and advice from Minnesota tribes around the needs of American Indian students is thoroughly included in our state plan.

Commissioner Cassellius has met with leaders of 9 out of the 11 tribal nations to discuss the ESSA State Plan. She will meet with the remaining two in the coming weeks. The discussions centered around how school districts and tribes can work together on district policies. So far, here are some themes that have arisen:

  • Consultation with districts needs to be ongoing and meaningful - not just someone talking to Tribal members. The district and tribe need to come to the table to work out problems together. They need to mutually arrive at a solution. Identify priorities together work together from the very beginning. Tribes need to be consulted in the creation of policies, not at the end.
  • Native language and culture should be blended natural, it should not be a separate day or class.
  • Need for more teachers of color and American Indian teachers.
  • Many tribal leaders would like consultation to lead to districts and schools being more inviting and relevant for American Indian students, and lead to curricular choices that better represent American Indians, including their specific history and culture in the area.

Once consultation is complete, a report will be published to summarize the meetings.

In the Community: highlights from meetings we've attended

Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans

MDE staff attended the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans board of directors meeting on March 16. Staff presented a brief primer on ESSA for those members unfamiliar with the law, and provided a status update on the ESSA state plan. MDE shared information on the process and that the state plan would be submitted in September.

Board members were curious about how Minnesota charter schools would be affected by ESSA and shared concern about Minnesota’s charter school authorizers. MDE informed members that ESSA will not impact authorizers, although other provisions apply to Minnesota’s charter schools as public schools.

Board members also expressed deep concerns for the students in English Learner services in Minnesota. Members strongly advised MDE to use ESSA to support students in EL services, including those with limited formal education.

Promoting Effective Instruction for Children Learning English Summit

MDE staff attended a one day summit in Minneapolis bringing together English Learner and early learning advocates. Staff from MDE’s Federal Programs division participated on a panel discussing the local and state perspective on English Learner services.

Keynote presenters and experts were clear about the vital role that early learning plays in the success of students in English Learner services. Early learning advocates described that educators and others in the early learning system can play a role in preserving home language and culture, which can be lost later in a student’s academic career.

Early learning staff from Robbinsdale Area Schools shared how their success with family engagement helped educate and encourage parents to effectively participate with their school. Early learning staff helped establish foundational relationships that are key to meaningful engagement.

Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood Parents Council

MDE staff were invited to a Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood parents meeting, and had a chance to hear ESSA feedback from community members. A small group of community elders, parents, current and former students participated.

Participants shared that effective educators and schools should be grounded in the community, and that educators who lived and were from their community had a better chance of success. Community members described that the current system does not do family engagement well.

Community members reported that effective educators: 1) really care; and 2) support student success by recognizing self-esteem matters. Participants stated that bored students become disengaged, and this can lead to acting out.

Participants described that students pass early grades without basic proficiency, at times reaching third grade unable to read. Community members asked that schools and educators set appropriate expectations of kids to set them up for success. They stated that students need to be taught skills that will help them later on in life, such as creativity, up-to-date technology, and family and consumer science.

Please join us for an ESSA State Plan Update: April 18!

Commissioner Cassellius will host a public meeting on Tuesday, April 18 at 5:30 p.m. in Conference Center B at the Minnesota Department of Education.

Come learn where we are at in the process to creating the state ESSA plan, what decisions have been made, and what needs to be done before submitting the plan in September. 

See the flier for details.