Educator Edition: 8-7-23

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An update from Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment

Vol. 1, No. 11: Aug. 7, 2023

Updates From MDE

2020 K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts

On June 26, the 2020 Minnesota K-12 English Language Arts Standards were published in the state register. They are effective five days after that publication date and are to be fully implemented in the 2025–26 school year. Supports for implementation are on the ELA Standards Implementation website. The MDE ELA Specialist, Victoria Mucha, can answer questions and provide assistance as districts work toward implementation. Email

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Text Selection in English Language Arts

The adoption of the 2020 Minnesota English Language Arts Standards offers a great opportunity for teachers and leaders to think about integrating student choice of texts into the English Language Arts classroom, as defined in Anchor Standard R3.  

Teachers who have historically used a novel-study model can easily add more student choice by expanding to a book club model (where students read one of four texts, for example). MDE encourages literacy teachers to locate at least one place in their scope and sequence where they can provide for student choice in text selection as they plan for the coming school year. Find ways to invite students into shared decision-making around texts to both empower and engage them, while also maintaining a locus of control in instructional design so that you are creating the most effective instruction. As the teacher, it is your role to define the frame around text selection and make that frame fit the academic task.

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Arts Education Legislative Updates

The 2023 Minnesota legislative session resulted in historic legislation being passed with regard to education, including changes to state statutes that directly impact K–12 public arts education. Visit MDE’s Arts Page to find an overview of the changes.

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Upcoming Opportunities

STEM Day at the Fair

It’s almost time for the Minnesota State Fair, and Thursday, Aug. 24, is STEM Day at the Fair.

STEM Day brings together several dozen STEM education providers, leading Minnesota corporations, award-winning teachers, and thousands of families to explore and celebrate all things STEM. It’s an opportunity for youth and their families to take time to play, learn, and discover in ways that might surprise and delight them.

This year’s theme is “You Belong in STEM,” assuring everyone that they have a place in the STEM community and in a STEM career. The event will celebrate the diversity of roles and individuals in STEM today and the opportunities for tomorrow. Minnesota’s Presidential Math and Science Teaching Award winners will be recognized at 11:05 a.m. in a short ceremony on the stage. STEM Day at the Fair is located in Carousel Park, just outside the Grandstand, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. While you’re at the Fair, stop by the Education Building to visit MDE’s booth, and Math-on-a-Stick (located across from the Fine Arts building).

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Computer Science Education Working Group

Applications are open for the Computer Science Education Working Group and will close on Aug. 25. MDE is seeking computer science teachers, and representatives from many groups across the state. The goal of the Computer Science Working Group is to develop a strategic plan for a statewide computer science education program. Applicants must agree to the assumptions and the timeline and be available for all meetings from October 2023 to March 2024. The final plan is due in March 2024. In addition to the five full group meetings, there will be many small group meetings scheduled to draft pieces of the plan between meetings. Please read the Computer Science Working Group Assumptions Document prior to completing the online application for adults. A separate application is available for high school students to join the working group.

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Important Ideas and Research

What is Computer Science?

In the last session, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Computer Science Education Advancement Program to begin increasing access to computer science education in the state. Computer science education is not just for older students who are interested in a career, and it should not be saved as a reward for students who excel in math. Computer science should be taught to every student, starting in kindergarten.

According to authors Lynch, Ardito, and Amendola (2020), “(T)oday what it means to prepare young people for civic and economic engagement requires that they critically understand the way digital technologies enable and inhibit such engagement.” (p. 3). They say that the “primary reason to teach it [computer science] is because many crucial aspects of society are increasingly mediated by digital technologies.” (p. 16).

One place to start is to have a better understanding of what computer science is. According to the statute, “Computer science means the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their implementation, and their impact on society.” To put it more plainly, computer science goes beyond simply about using computers and technology toward creating new technology and solving problems with computers.

The table below highlights some of the things that do and don’t fall into the area of computer science.

Computer science is… Computer science is not…

Creating mobile phone applications or programs that help solve a problem.

Using software like Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

Programming your own video game.

Playing computer games.

Programming a sensor to send an alarm when a door is opened.

Watching videos on YouTube.

Using a computer to manipulate a large data set and create graphs and other representations to help discover patterns.

Learning keyboarding.

Understanding all the parts of computers and how they work together.

Using educational technology tools.

If you’re interested in participating in the discussion about how we can increase access to computer science education in Minnesota you can apply to be part of the computer science working group. Details can be found on MDE’s Computer Science website.


Lynch, T. , Ardito, G., Amendola, P. (2020). Integrating computer science across the core: Strategies for K-12 districts. Routledge.

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Division of Academic Standards, Instruction and Assessment

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