In this dismal budget year, the House K-12 Education Policy and Oversight Committee crafted its omnibus bill with an eye to a more robust future.
Committee Chairman Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul), who sponsors HF1179, said the state’s changing economy characterized by new energy technologies, globalization and changing demographics “begs for us to deliver science, math, language and cross-cultural competencies in new ways with all kids, not just those who are already performing well.”
The committee approved the bill March 26. After adopting some amendments, the House K-12 Education Finance Division laid the bill over April 1 for possible inclusion in its omnibus bill.
Incentive for innovation
The bill proposes “incentive revenue” for school districts to accomplish those goals. Starting in fiscal years 2014-2015, they would be required to use 5 percent of any increased basic revenue for research-based practices or curriculum shown to improve learning across the student spectrum. Mariani knows it’s an unusual action and that there won’t be extra revenue this year.
“For me it really has more to do with the policy of placing expectations. We’re not going to simply put more money into K-12, we’re going to drive new policy that attempts to catch up with the changing nature of our student demographic and the changing demands of our economy.”
Calming testing anxiety
Lots of time and money is invested in testing, such the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment series. Such “snapshot” tests capture some useful data, including performance in a given year in a school or within a certain group or grade of students and create system-wide benchmarks, but other kinds of assessments capture data that’s more useful to classroom teachers.
Proposed is a five-year grace period on the math Graduation Required Assessment for Diploma and an alternative path to graduation for the projected 38 percent of 11th graders who could fail the math GRAD they’re scheduled to take this month. That would buy time for lawmakers to study the value of high stakes tests and to hammer out a long-term solution, such as end-of-course examinations, acceptable to all parties, including the governor, who opposes the alternative path.
Rep. Randy Demmer (R-Hayfield) unsuccessfully sought March 26 to strike the provision.
“I was concerned about us veering away from our resolve to get assessments of our kids that had meaning,” Demmer said later. “I honestly believe that if we don’t give tests meaning and purpose, make these tests high stakes, we’re not going to get good data because students won’t take them seriously.”
The bill would also implement computer adaptive testing starting in the 2010-11 school year for grades 3-8, which uses interactive technology to adjust a test to the ability of the test taker and allows results to be quickly used by a classroom teacher to identify and correct instructional gaps. The proposal could save school districts money by eliminating duplicative testing.
Schools could expand their use of growth model assessments, in addition to those measuring proficiency and yearly progress. Students would be measured against their own performance and growth between two or more points in time which can show they’re making progress, even if they’re not fully proficient.
Boosting teacher quality
The bill calls for teacher professional development for re-licensure based on job-embedded, reflective, evidenced-based methods of improving classroom practice, not just on logging a certain number of hours. It also links Q Comp to evidence of effective practice, which Mariani predicted could prove thorny as the bill progresses, as the governor strongly prefers to link Q Comp to student outcomes.
State special education provisions would align more closely with federal laws and rules. For example it would shift the burden of proof in a due process consideration from the district to demonstrate it is complying with the law to the party seeking relief. It would also repeal the requirement that school districts provide special education services for nonpublic school students, as well as the use of some restraint and isolation procedures, replacing them with updated interventions that trained staff would use to manage aggressive student behavior.
Rep. Carol McFarlane (R-White Bear Lake) had moved March 26 to strike that provision, but was pleased her amendment prompted stakeholders to hammer out a compromise.
“I would suggest that after amendments that were made today we’re heading in the right direction,” she said after the April 1 hearing. “I appreciate that people have been willing to come together to make good policy.”
Other provisions involve capacity-building and policy analysis with a wide view of education policy across the educational spectrum. One would add four legislators to the P-20 Partnership, an existing think-tank on education policy involving stakeholders beyond K-12 silos. Another would direct the independent Office of Educational Accountability to report to the Legislature on statewide educational accountability information.
Not included in the bill is charter school reform legislation, introduced separately as HF935, sponsored by Rep. Linda Slocum (DFL-Richfield), nor education mandate reductions, the subject of HF920, sponsored by Rep. Tom Tillberry (DFL-Fridley).
A companion bill, SF1253, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), awaits action by the Senate E-12 Education Budget and Policy Division.
The year without a K-12 law
School funding is flat, no reforms enacted
(view full story) Published 6/1/2010
House K-12 omnibus bill fast-tracked
Senate slow to respond with companion legislation
(view full story) Published 5/13/2010
K-12 education omnibus bill stalls
Teacher licensure proposals in contention
(view full story) Published 5/6/2010
K-12 education bill moves forward
Measures would activate reforms, stabilize school funding
(view full story) Published 4/29/2010
Resuscitating Race to the Top bid
New bid could hinge on proposals to boost teacher effectiveness
(view full story) Published 4/22/2010
Raiders of the lost fund
Slew of reforms could boost Permanent School Fund income
(view full story) Published 3/25/2010
Schools shore up state’s checkbook
Obscure law forces drawdown of school reserves before state can borrow
(view full story) Published 2/25/2010
At Issue: No shifts, no cuts
Education funding in a holding pattern
(view full story) Published 5/29/2009
At Issue: E-12 education bill that might have been
Funding held steady with no shifts proposed, but no Minnesota Miracle
(view full story) Published 5/15/2009
At Issue: Investing in quality care for kids
Lawmakers hope for long-term benefits of early investment
(view full story) Published 4/24/2009
At Issue: Building a better formula
Omnibus K-12 education finance bill floor debate highlights obstacles
(view full story) Published 4/24/2009
At Issue: Whose values are they anyway?
Lawmaker carries on family legacy with sex education bill
(view full story) Published 4/17/2009
First Reading: One school doesn’t fit all
Efforts put forward to tailor charter school law
(view full story) Published 4/10/2009
At Issue: Hopeful education goals in a dismal year
Omnibus bill addresses changing needs and future demands
(view full story) Published 4/3/2009
At Issue: Getting kids to move
Bill aims to ensure ‘No child left on their behind’
(view full story) Published 2/20/2009
First Reading: Accountability funding for all
A ‘New Minnesota Miracle’ requires a leap of faith
(view full story) Published 2/13/2009
At Issue: Q Comp found wanting
Performance measure has perks, but is it affordable?
(view full story) Published 2/6/2009
At Issue: Reforming education, saving money
Bipartisan support shown for mandate reduction and shared services
(view full story) Published 1/23/2009
Feature: Passing the torch of democracy
Youth immerse themselves in lingo and actions of lawmaking
(view full story) Published 1/16/2009