Well-focused investments in quality pre-K can yield to the public a return up to $16 for every $1 spent. Tell lawmakers to help Minnesota kids access quality early education and care so they enter kindergarten ready to succeed.
In 2011, Minnesota passed its first statewide teacher evaluation framework (law HF-26), which will provide school leaders and districts with a trusted system to make personnel decisions based on teacher performance. This critical step forward, however, is not enough. Right now decisions about who to hire, promote or even lay off when faced with budget deficits are based solely on seniority. The creation of an evaluation system will only drive gains in student achievement if we connect it with common sense reforms to Minnesota’s teacher tenure law so that we can use the system to reward quality.
We need to use our teacher evaluation system to ensure that a great teacher teaches every child. This principle means awarding tenure to teachers who demonstrate their effectiveness. It also means moving from a layoff system that focuses only on years on the job to one that retains the most successful employees. Let’s reward first-string teachers and move them out of the penalty box.
Academic research shows that next to the quality of instruction that teachers offer, the quality of the principal is the second most influential in-school factor for improving student outcomes. To ensure that an effective school leader leads every school, Minnesota needs a comprehensive principal evaluation system. In 2011, the Minnesota legislature mandated the creation of a work group to develop just that model. The legislature and the governor must work together in 2012 to ensure that every Minnesota principal is judged upon a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation grounded in the performance of their school, with a majority of a principal’s evaluation based on student learning and teacher performance. Our schools, our teachers, and most importantly, our students need principals capable of ensuring that all kids achieve at the highest levels. They are Minnesota’s MVPs: Most Valuable Principals.
In hockey, a power play is when your team has a numerical advantage on the ice. More great athletes dramatically shift the odds in your favor. The same principle applies in education. The more great schools, the better the chance of meeting the needs of every Minnesota student. But right now the opposite is true: too few great schools means too many children are at risk of failure. The result is widening achievement gaps and lackluster achievement gains. We need to change these odds by scaling school models with proven results and holding accountable those that prevent children from receiving the kind of education they deserve. To renew our focus on innovation, MinnCAN will provide report cards for all schools, showcase superstar schools, call for the closure of persistently low-performing schools and seed an achievement kick-start fund. By scaling up school models with proven results, we can put Minnesota back on top and ensure that all Minnesota children have an equal opportunity for a great public education.
The Playbook for Education in Minnesota builds on the facts in our second annual State of Minnesota Public Education report. This report shows that when it comes to offering all of our kids a great public school, we’re not living up to our Minnesotan ideals. There is still so much more work to be done. We’re up to the challenge, but we need your help.