RELEASE: Minnesota submits Every Student Succeeds Act state plan with focus on improving equity in schools

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department of education

For Immediate Release

Contact: Josh Collins


September 18, 2017

Previous Announcements

Minnesota submits Every Student Succeeds Act state plan with focus on improving equity in schools

Plan emphasizes outcomes for each student population at every school and will increase number of Minnesota schools receiving on-the-ground support 

ROSEVILLE, MN – Today, the Minnesota Department of Education submitted the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan to the U.S. Department of Education for review and approval. Developed over the last 21 months, with input from 300 public meetings and feedback from thousands of stakeholders from across the state provided, Minnesota’s plan is designed to create more equitable opportunities and outcomes for all students.

“Minnesotans have always placed a high value on our schools and the world of opportunities that come from a great education,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “Our state plan was created with input from thousands of educators, parents and community members and is grounded in our goal that every child has access to an education that celebrates a student’s unique assets, works to overcome barriers to learning and helps every child reach their full potential.”

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed in December 2015 as the nation’s new pre-K through grade 12 federal education law, replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and promises to address educational disparities and inequities for students living in poverty, students of color, American Indian students, and students with disabilities. Unlike NCLB, the new ESSA law has at its core a commitment to not only identifying achievement disparities among students, but requires states to work with underperforming schools to  create individual plans that strategically address disparate outcomes.

Minnesota’s ESSA plan emphasizes family and community engagement during all stages of a student’s educational career. It requires that school districts consult with all local tribal nations and communities, and outlines a process for creating a more cohesive statewide approach to supporting English learners. Further, the plan ensures that local school districts will be held accountable for supporting every student in their schools. Instead of only looking at overall student achievement, schools will be accountable for the achievement of students by race, socio-economic status and disability. Schools will also be required to look at their expulsion and suspension data closely and integrate strategies to address disparities and improve school attendance rates.

“Creating a world-class education system doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it requires all hands on deck,” said Cassellius. “I want to thank the teachers, school leaders and community members who contributed to shaping this plan. Together, we have created a roadmap that will lead us to better outcomes and opportunities for every child in Minnesota.

Under Minnesota’s ESSA plan, the state’s award-winning Regional Centers of Excellence will significantly expand their involvement with schools and districts identified as needing support to improve. The plan calls for identification and varying levels of support for between 300 and 400 schools, an increase from the 85 schools currently working with the Regional Centers under the NCLB waiver. Minnesota high schools will be included in the cohort of schools receiving assistance and support. The Regional Centers, recognized by Harvard University as a top program in national innovation in 2015, provide on-the-ground assistance to districts and schools to create the capacity and conditions that support change. This support can be a variety of forms, such as guidance on professional development, community engagement or reviewing data.

Next Steps and Additional Information

The U.S. Department of Education has 120 days to respond to Minnesota’s state plan, after which the work to implement the finalized plan will begin.

Minnesota’s plan, as submitted, is available on the MDE website here:

Commissioner Cassellius also released a letter to stakeholders outlining changes between the draft state plan posted for public comment on August 1 and the finalized plan submitted today. The letter is available on the MDE website at:

An executive summary of the plan is available on the MDE website at: