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Great Public Schools Criteria for Minnesota

Great Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.

Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in Minnesota.

Readiness to Learn

Full-day Kindergarten:

Early Learning Services Program Directory Search. The early childhood years from birth to the start of kindergarten are an important time of rapid growth. The Minnesota Department of Education has a variety of helpful programs for parents and their children.

Minnesota's Early Childhood Development (ECD) system involves two programs:

  1. Early childhood education: Programs that prepare children for kindergarten such as Head Start and the School Readiness program.
  2. Child care: Subsidized child care programs to allow parents to work or enroll in work training programs.

Governor’s Early Childhood Reform Proposals (March, 2006). The Governor's early childhood reform proposals total approximately $10.2 million in the first year and $10 million per year thereafter. Funding will come through redirected federal TANF funds. The Governor's proposals include:

Reinstatement of the Minnesota Kindergarten Readiness Assessment and intervention for children deemed "not ready" for kindergarten. The Governor's proposal would reinstate Minnesota's Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, which samples 10 percent of the state's kindergartners at a cost of $287,000 per year.

For the roughly 1,400 children deemed "not ready" for kindergarten, the package includes $1.5 million worth of initiatives enabling educators to intervene in the development of these children and address their specific skills in need of further attention.

Educate new parents in partnership with the United Way and allow non-licensed, non-center based care providers and non-parent caregivers to attend ECFE. The package includes funding to educate new parents to care for their children in partnership with the United Way and health care providers. In a state with the highest percentage of working women and two-earner households, children are increasingly cared for by non-parent guardians. As a result, the reforms will also enable non-parent, non-guardian care-givers such as grandparents and relatives to attend Early Childhood Family Enrichment (ECFE) classes, which offer parenting skills development classes. Non-licensed, non-center based care providers will also be allowed to attend due to a grant program costing $2.1 million per year.

Increase transparency and accountability by basing allocations on children served. To increase transparency and accountability in the system, part of the ECD reform will involve revising current Head Start state allocations to target unmet need and pay based on the number of actual children served, rather than number of children enrolled. Currently, funding for Head Start, which provides comprehensive services to increase school readiness of young children in low-income families, is based on the number of eligible children, rather than the number of children actually served. Such a change would help improve the equity of Head Start allocations across the state by targeting funds to areas with a higher level of need at no additional cost to the state.

Inclusion of an educational component in child care programs. To further improve both transparency and accountability, the initiative will devote $6.1 million to tying the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment to care providers and ECD programs. As a result, child-care centers, licensed family care providers, and family, friend and neighbor (FFN) caregivers would receive a designation from the Minnesota Department of Education for having a strong developmental component and promoting kindergarten readiness.

One of the findings that emerged from Itasca's ECD program review was the need to embed early education in child-care services, thus combining the two essential aspects of early childhood development. In the past, many child-care programs chose to, but were not required, to embed developmental elements. As a result, the reform package announced today provides transparency for families in selecting child care programs with a strong development component.

Develop curriculum for child care providers and increase transparency and accountability. The initiative will also create incentives for Head Start providers and child care providers to work together to provide an integrated set of services for at-risk children who qualify for both programs. The Minnesota Department of Education and Department of Human Services are beginning discussions about how to integrate and pay for Head Start eligible children at no cost to the state.

In a further effort to integrate the child-care and early childhood education aspects of the ECD program, part of the reform will involve translating Minnesota Early Learning guidelines into curriculum for formal and informal care providers. The initiative will assist child-care providers in developing curricula based on early learning guidelines and help communicate child assessment results to parents. The Minnesota Department of Education will work with the Department of Human Services to provide such integration, transparency, and accountability at no cost to the state.

Source: Minnesota Department of Education: Early Learning Services

NEA Grant to Close Achievement Gaps

Education Minnesota plans to use its NEA Grant to Close Achievement Gaps to mobilize members to lobby the legislature to fully fund early childhood education. They also will work to maintain the integrity of the state's Alternative Teacher Professional Pay System (ATPPS), which was legislated in 20005, and will train at least 100 local union and district teams on the steps required to qualify for the ATPPS.