Educator Edition: 5-8-23

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An update from Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment

Vol. 1, No. 9: May 8, 2023

Updates From MDE

Academic Standards Implementation Timelines

As academic standards are revised in each content area, MDE Content Specialists have created recommended implementation timelines to help districts and teachers plan for implementation. Each of these timelines sets out recommended actions for teachers and district leaders, and establishes an overview of the support and resources that will be offered at the state level. Implementation timelines can be found on content-area standards implementation pages. Timelines are available for Physical Education, Science and Arts. As other subject become available they will be added to the appropriate implementation pages. We encourage you to bookmark the implementation pages for easy reference to implementation timelines and additional resources.

Academic Standards Implementation pages:

Note: Refer to the Using Assessment Results During Transition to New Academic Standards resource on the Science implementation page for guidance on using and communicating about assessment results while transitioning to new academic standards.

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Upcoming Opportunities

Alternate Assessment Coffee Break

Meet with Alternate Assessment Specialists to Give Feedback and Ask Questions

The Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment Division will host a series of virtual Coffee Break sessions for MTAS test administrators and special education staff to ask any questions around alternate assessment, share their feedback, and connect with other special education staff from across the state. Join us on Tuesday, May 9, 4–5 p.m., via Zoom: Alternate Assessment Coffee Break. Please register for the Coffee Break. Bring your favorite beverage, along with your questions and any feedback you have to share at this informal time focused around alternate assessment. This month we will be discussing feedback from the 2023 MTAS Administration, Individual Student Reports (ISR), and planning for next year. This is the last Coffee Break for this school year. The Coffee Breaks will begin for the 2023–24 school year next October. For more information, contact

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Register for the System Thinking About Assessment and Assessment Inventory Professional Learning Series

Have you been getting questions like, how are MCA and ACCESS results used? Or, why are MCA scores decreasing over the last few years? Communicating about standardized assessment results can be daunting, especially when connecting them to your district’s vision for teaching and learning. Add to that a global pandemic, and it can easily feel overwhelming to sort out what exactly these results mean in the context of your local curriculum and instruction goals.

Join us for a three-part series focused on stepping back to take stock of the assessments used in your district, what information they are providing, and how they can tell you more. Save the dates below and register on Zoom for each session to receive a calendar invite. All interested teaching and learning staff, district/school leaders, DACs, and educators are welcome to join!

Assessment Inventory Session 1: Overview of balanced assessment systems and the inventory tool

  • Tuesday, May 16, 1–4 p.m.
  • Register for May 16, Session 1
  • Description: This session will provide a framework and resources you can bring back to your district in order to complete an assessment inventory.
  • Session outcomes:
    • Gain an understanding of recent research calling for more balanced assessment systems that have clear purpose and produce useful information to continuously guide teaching and learning.
    • Have access to criteria and tools for evaluating your assessments as a system to guide teaching and learning, as well as for evaluating the quality and alignment of interim assessments.
    • Gain a clearer understanding about how the information either works together in a coherent system to improve teaching and learning, and/or where there might be gaps or redundancies in the information you are getting from your assessments.

Assessment Inventory Session 2: Using the findings from an assessment inventory to adjust your balanced assessment system

Assessment Inventory Session 3: Developing a theory of action for your Balanced Assessment System

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Curriculum Directors Virtual Meeting

All curriculum directors are invited to meet with the MDE Academic Standards team at one of two virtual meetings, both occurring on May 16. This will be the last Curriculum Director meeting until Fall 2023. Curriculum Director Meetings are an opportunity to connect with content specialist to discuss the tools available to districts for standards implementation. Join either meeting on Zoom:

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Student Agency in Learning 2023–24 Cohort Application is Open

MDE is seeking schools and district teams to participate in a year-long cohort, Student Agency in Learning (SAIL). The cohort is aimed at supporting teachers to develop and refine their skills for gathering and using evidence of student learning to guide instruction. From the teams currently participating in the pilot cohort and from the research literature, we have seen that when students actively co-create knowledge and success criteria with their teachers and peers, it transforms instruction and student learning outcomes.

SAIL content integrates principles of formative assessment with student identity, and classroom culture – to enrich and deepen instructional practice in support of student agency. In the 2023–24 school year, teams of educators and leaders from across the state will have the opportunity to learn and implement strategies for: gathering and interpreting evidence of learning; using learning goals and success criteria; and responding alongside students to guide next steps in learning.

Each school-based team should include one school leader, one site facilitator (teacher or leader), and at least four additional teachers. School system leaders like instructional coaches, peer coaches, and RCE advocates are encouraged to apply as part of a school-based team. Lastly, teams should already have an established meeting structure for professional learning (like MnMTSS linked teams; PLCs, co-planning or grade-level teams) that meet weekly or bi-weekly within your school schedule. This is critical to successfully planning the site-based community of practice meetings.

Each participant must be willing to engage in SAIL content, apply new learning, provide feedback to inform ongoing content improvement, and agree to share their learning with others. Specific content topics covered in each SAIL module are outlined under pathway three of the Professional Learning Opportunities on the Testing 1, 2, 3 page. Some required activities include:

  • Designing a PD calendar for SAIL Community of Practice Meetings at your site that aligns to your school and district calendar (MDE will provide sample resources);
  • Attendance at the virtual SAIL Leadership Launch in August (school leaders);
  • Attendance at the virtual SAIL Facilitator Launch in mid-September (site facilitators);
  • Attendance at the virtual SAIL Teacher Launch in late September (school leader, facilitator, and teachers);
  • Asynchronous independent learning throughout the school year via Canvas (roughly one hour per week);
  • Implementation of the tools and practices learned in the asynchronous modules;
  • Attendance at all virtual meetings for site facilitators (six total throughout the 2023–24 school year).

MDE will host two informational meetings for interested districts and schools. Registration information is below:

If you are ready to register for the 2023­–24 cohort, please submit one application for your site team. The application will close on June 30. Please contact if there are questions.

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Hormel Gifted and Talented Education Symposium

Join us in-person June 13–15 in Austin, Minn., for the annual Hormel Gifted and Talented Education Symposium. Educators, administrators, psychologists, school board members, parents and counselors may choose from in-depth sessions on evidence-based practices for addressing the instructional and social emotional needs of gifted learners, including students who are twice exceptional and culturally and linguistically diverse. Equity, diversity and inclusion are woven throughout all sessions. For more information, visit the Symposium website.

A one-time only donation will fund 20 registration scholarships for the 2023 Hormel Gifted Education Symposium. Up to two individuals per school may be awarded free registration to the symposium. Applicants must be a licensed Minnesota public school teacher, gifted education coordinator/specialist, school counselor/psychologist/social worker or specialist currently working in a Minnesota public school. Awardees must: 1) Agree to attend the entire symposium and 2) Agree to report on their experience at a fall building-level staff meeting. Scholarships will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis until all funds have been dedicated. Applicants must send a statement of their interest and include the name of their school and district. Applications will be accepted only by email with the subject line “Hormel Scholarship” sent to: This offer is available until May 10 or when all funds have been allocated.

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Ethnic Studies Book Club

Educators are invited to participate in an Ethnic Studies Book Club. The group will meet in June and July for three sessions to develop a shared understanding of ethnic studies pedagogy and practices in K–12 education. The club will explore a variety of texts by ethnic studies experts and will have the option to meet in two formats: in-person or virtual (Zoom). Participants will develop, explore, and deepen understanding on the components of ethnic studies and ethnic studies pedagogy, to inform personal practices to build capacity in your teaching positions and learning communities.

The following texts will guide our discussions:

  • Tintiangco-Cubales, A., Kohli, R., Sacramento, J., Henning, N., Agarwal-Rangnath, R., & Sleeter, C. (2014). Toward an ethnic studies pedagogy: Implications for K-12 schools from the research. Urban Rev, 1-22. DOI 10.1007/s11256-014-0280-y
  • Cuauhtin, R.T., Zavala, M., Sleeter, C., & Au, W. (Eds.) (2019). Rethinking Ethnic Studies. Rethinking Schools.

For more information on the book club, contact Sue Xiong, Ethnic Studies specialist. To register, complete the Ethnic Studies Summer Book Club Microsoft Form.

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Important Ideas and Research

Have you accessed the Minnesota Question Tool?

The Minnesota Questions Tool (MQT) resource provides educators items aligned to the Minnesota Academic Standards. The search options found on the dashboard for each subject include: grade, strand or substrand, question types, DOK and years.

  • Strand or Substrand: The strands/substrands for the subject chosen.
  • Question Types: The type of questions available for that subject/grade.
  • DOK (Depth of Knowledge) Levels: Norman L. Webb’s Depth of Knowledge levels of cognitive complexity for the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments. These levels are assigned to each question.
  • Years: Years the questions were released.

The question option within the Minnesota Questions Tool provides educators with access to multiple choice, and technology-enhanced question types. The MQT design includes three key elements: sample question, key/scoring guide and performance data.

  • Question tab provides the answer and includes attributes.
  • Key/Scoring Guide tab provides the correct answer and rationale.
  • Performance Data tab shows the percent of Minnesota students who selected each answer.

Instructionally, the key/scoring guide provides multiple rationales for educators to anticipate student misconceptions. Identifying these misconceptions in the specific standard can help educators plan their instruction and provide students with appropriate feedback.

Educators can use the questions as examples of a few ways the academic standards are assessed on the MCA, and analyze their own instructional materials in relation to the insights from the MQT.

Testing 1, 2, 3 also has additional information on Eliciting Evidence Through Questioning, which describes ways to engage students in questioning routines that support eliciting evidence, such as engaging in assessment conversations and using wrong answers to uncover student thinking.

For more information on the Minnesota Question Tool, access the MQT User Guide.

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Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment

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