Educator Edition: 6-5-23

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An update from Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment

Vol. 1, No. 10: June 5, 2023

Updates From MDE

Note: There will be no July edition of Educator Edition. We’ll see you again in August.

Funding a Well Rounded Education

Education finance is complicated but knowing more about the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) can help all district staff and teachers understand the resources available to meet student needs. ESEA Title programs are generally intended to provide equal access to a high quality, well-rounded education. The federal funds must also supplement and not supplant what would be required by or paid with other funds. The Distinct Purposes of ESEA Funds document summarizes the purpose of each of the ESEA Title programs administered by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Student Access and Opportunity division. For more information about a fund and its purpose, please visit this document or contact the program specialist listed on the ESEA page of the MDE website.

Starting in school year 2024 (SY24), the application for ESEA Title programs will be in the new Minnesota Education Grant System (MEGS). There are several training options to support a smooth transition to this new system. Check the MDE Calendar for specific dates and times for the following topics:

  • MEGS Overview, Accessing MEGS, and Completing Central Data Collection (1 hour)
  • Completing the ESEA Consolidated Application in MEGS (2 hours)

These sessions will be offered multiple times from May through August. Additional MEGS-related training topics will be added to the MDE Calendar throughout SY24. Additionally, members of the MDE Student Access and Opportunity division will host office hours during the June, July, and August Title Tuesday sessions to support the completion of the ESEA Consolidated Application.

The ESEA Grant Application Tools page of the MDE website includes several resources that you may find helpful, including the SY24 Timeline for ESEA Applications in MEGS and SERVS document. Contact with questions about the SY24 ESEA Consolidated Application.

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Mathematics Alternate MCA Test Specifications Public Review Open Until June 30

Following the 2022 revisions to the Minnesota K–12 Academic Mathematics Standards being finalized through the Rulemaking process, the Math Alternate Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (Alt MCA, formerly MTAS) will begin assessing these standards in Spring 2028 for students with significant cognitive disabilities. In collaboration with a committee of Minnesota educators, MDE has drafted the test specifications for the Math Alternate MCA to assist with the development of the new series of assessments. In addition to test specifications, the document includes extended benchmarks, which are based on the new Minnesota math standards but reduced in depth, breadth, and complexity.

Members of the public are encouraged to review the proposed test specifications and provide feedback through the Math Alt MCA Test Specifications Feedback Survey. The survey will be open until June 30.

Feedback from multiple perspectives, including math and special education teachers, is important in creating the best assessment possible for Minnesota students with significant cognitive disabilities. Please share this information with applicable district staff.

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Upcoming Opportunities

Hormel Gifted and Talented Education Symposium

Join us in-person on 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.

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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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Upcoming Culturally Responsive Arts Education Learning Opportunities

Two 2023 summer institutes will be offered to support culturally responsive arts learning. More information and the registration process will be posted on the Culturally Responsive Arts Education page of the MDE website.

Reimagining Arts Education: Native Arts Summer Institute

July 25–27

Location: TBD

Participants will take a deep dive into Dakota and Ojibwe arts and cultural expression as well as essential understandings about contemporary Native arts. Participants will have an increased understanding about culturally responsive and anti-racist practices with a focus on developing curriculum and instruction that authentically and appropriately integrates Dakota and/or Ojibwe arts. This institute will focus on supporting K–12 arts educators. Participants will have an opportunity to put their learning into action by developing and piloting innovative and culturally responsive lessons or units of study during the following school year. Continued support during the following school year for this curriculum development will consist of regular virtual communities of practice, and a professional development day for sharing and reflection.

Reimaging Arts and Ethnic Studies Summer Institute

Aug. 1–3

Location: TBD

Participants will explore the intersection of the arts and ethnic studies, and unpack the connection between identity, social activism, and the arts. Participants will also investigate how the arts can empower students to reclaim, envision, and create, centering their voices as counter-narratives against historical and contemporary injustices. This institute will focus on arts, social studies, and ethnic studies educators working at the secondary level. Participants will have an opportunity to put their learning into action by developing and piloting innovative and culturally responsive lessons or units of study during the following school year. Continued support during the following school year for this curriculum development will consist of regular virtual communities of practice, and a professional development day for sharing and reflection.


July 24–26

Location: Duluth, Minn.

This unique in-person experience is designed to provide K–12 educators with the guidance, support, and resources they need to create a computer science pathway for students in their school districts. At this event, you will have the opportunity to network with other educators from your district and across the state. The goal for this week is to provide a comprehensive professional development experience that will help Minnesota gain much-needed ground in ensuring students receive equitable computer science education. Minnesota Department of Education specialists will be presenting during one of the evening receptions and as part of the Building Equitable Computer Science Pathways Workshop for School Leaders workshop. Register on the Empower{MN:CS} website.

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Important Ideas and Research

Planning Grammar Instruction that Works

A recent article in the National Council of Teachers of English Council Chronicle recommends that instruction of grammar in the context of reading is a great way teach students to understand grammar and to be comfortable using accurate grammar. The article, Teaching Grammar in Context,[1] examines the instructional strategies recommended by Deborah Dean, a professor of English at Brigham Young University, in her 2022 book What Works in Grammar Instruction.[2] The article highlights several of Dean’s recommendations for classroom teachers, emphasizing grammar instruction using texts that are being read in the class.

“Keep mini (grammar) lessons short and focused” and “Use examples from class text.” These recommendations are connected in that Dean is suggesting showing students how grammar is used in text and encouraging students to associate meaning with the grammar. A great example in the article describes Dean writing sentences from a text on the board, providing short instruction on the grammar skill, and then asking students what a certain set of words does in the sentence.

“Don’t be intimidated by grammar.” Dean says that if teachers don’t know the answer to a student’s question about grammar that they can model life-long learning by looking up the answer and sharing it with students. Dean says that the most important thing to keep in mind about teaching grammar is “to be curious and interested in language and to share that enthusiasm with your students.”[3]

These recommendations connect so well to the 2020 English Language Arts standards, now in the rulemaking process, which emphasize accurate grammar use in authentic purposes such as writing and speaking, attending to audience and context.

[1] Lorna Collier, “Teaching Grammar in Context,” National Council of Teachers of English Council Chronicle (Vol. 32, No. 1, September 2022) 19-21.

[2] Deborah Dean, What Works in Grammar Instruction (National Council of Teachers of English, 2022).

[3] Collier, “Teaching Grammar in Context,” 21.

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Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment

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