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ROSEVILLE, Minn.- So long, No Child Left Behind.

Hello,Multiple Measurement Ratings (MMR).

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) on Tuesday announced the new mechanism to measureschools across the state. The new ratings are based on what the department is callinga fairer, more accurate accountability system made possible because Minnesota was granted a waiver to through the state's NCLB waiver.

"This is another good day for Minnesota's efforts to raise the bar and improve student achievement for every student," said Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius. "Rather than relying on a failed system that doled out punitive labels and didn't tell the whole story about schools, today we're recognizing our high performing schools and making a commitment to stand beside those schools most in need."

The overriding goal of the new measurement system is to dramatically improve the disparity in academic performance between students of color and poverty and white student, commonly referred to as the "achievement gap." The new accountability structure takes into account school performance in four categories;

  • Proficiency
  • Growth
  • Progress in closing achievement gaps
  • Graduation rate

State officials hope the new focus will close Minnesota's achievement gap, recognized as one of the nation's highest, in half within six years.

Today's ratings also include three school designations:

  • Reward Schools: The highest-performing 15% of Title I schools in the state. The state named 128 schools in this category.
  • Focus Schools: The 10% of Title I schools making the biggest contribution to the state's achievement gap. There are 85 schools that received this designation.
  • Priority Schools: The five percent most-persistently low-performing Title I schools in the state. There are 42 schools that received this designation.

Under the new system schools designated as Reward Schools will be recognized for their good work. MDE will look to share any best practices taking place in those classrooms with other schools across the state. Reward Schools will be identified every year.

Schools designated as Priority Schools will receive the full support of MDE and newly created Regional Centers of Excellence to develop a school turnaround plan based on federal turnaround principles. Under federal regulations, 19 of the schools identified as Priority Schools are currently operating under the School Improvement Grant program.

These schools will have the opportunity to get off the list in 2013 if they are no longer in the bottom 25 percentof Title I schools. Priority schools will be identified once every three years.

Schools designated as Focus Schools will work with their district to develop a school improvement plan that directly addresses poor performance either within a subgroup of students or in graduation rates. These schools will also be identified once every three years.

Minnesota's new accountability system recognizes the unique challenges facing each community which provides districts with the flexibility necessary to create a turnaround plan that best addresses a school's particular needs. In this way turnaround plans will vary from school to school.

"Today marks an important step in our efforts to provide every child with access to a world-class education, said Commissioner Cassellius. "This work will not be easy, but it can be done. With collaboration and commitment from everyone -- from parents, students, educators, communities, policymakers and MDE -- we'll continue on our path to ensure every student has the opportunity to achieve their highest potential."

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