World’s Best Workforce law brings new process to schools

By Kremena Spengler

Staff Writer

NEW ULM – Minnesota schools are being asked to complete a World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) plan for implementation this year, Superintendent Jeff Bertrang tells the District 88 School Board.

Bertrang will attend a Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) session on Dec. 2 to hear more of what MDE is expecting schools to complete.

District 88 has received a “tool kit” checklist of what MDE recommends for districts to do, adds Bertrang.

“There are several pieces that we do already, but may need retooling to meet the intent of MDE requirements. We are required to hold a public meeting about our plan…”

Bertrang specified that he is in the process of “connecting the dots” – assessing of where the new requirements fit in, how they correspond to what the district already does, and what else needs to get done.

According to initial guidance from MDE on the legislation, provided by Bertrang upon request, WBWF is intendended to: have all students meet school readiness goals; have all third-graders achieve grade-level literacy; close the academic achievement gap among all racial and ethnic groups of students and between students living in poverty and their more privileged peers; have all students graduate from high school; and have all students attain college and career preparedness.

Success in reaching these goals will rest on the following performance measures, according to MDE: student performance on the National Association of Education Progress (NAEP); reduction of the academic achievement gap by student subgroup; student performance on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs); and college and career readiness as defined in state statutes (Section 120B.30, Subdivision 1).

School boards are required to develop a plan to support and improve teaching and learning that is aligned to the World’s Best Work Force and includes: clearly defined student achievement goals and benchmarks; a process to evaluate each student’s progress toward meeting the state and local academic standards; a system to review and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction and curriculum; practices that integrate high-quality instruction, rigorous curriculum, instructional technology and a collaborative professional culture that support teacher quality, performance and effectiveness; evidence-based strategies for improving curriculum, instruction and student achievement; and an annual budget for continuation of the district plan’s implementation.

The recommended plan components include: agreement between local unions and school boards on a teacher evaluation system; a rubric that defines the effectiveness of instruction; and a description of the professional standards the district used in the development of the system.

School boards are also asked to establish an advisory committee that ensures community participation, reflects the diversity of the district and its school sites and makes recommendations to the school board regarding rigorous academic standards, student achievement goals and measures.

Under the legislation, the board will publish a report on district plan results each fall; hold an annual public meeting; periodically survey constituencies about their connection to schools and level of satisfaction; and submit an electronic summary of the report to the state commissioner of education.

The result of the legislation will be “a state accountability system that is locally owned and supported by MDE guidance and technical assistance in continuous school improvement and turnaround planning,” says MDE.

A report to the public of how the district meets goals will need to be submitted next fall, says Bertrang.

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