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Meeting Minnesota Department of Education Requirements for High Quality e-Learning Days

Meeting Minnesota Department of Education Requirements for High Quality e-Learning Days

Minnesota students and educators are held to high standards when it comes to the amount of content that needs to be covered each school year. Unfortunately, Minnesota’s nasty winter weather isn’t very in-tune to those standards. School days cancelled due to inclement weather (not to mention the other things out of our control, like unexpected building or transportation issues) can quickly cut into student learning, and state instructional hour requirements.

The good news is that online learning options are providing new alternatives to keep students learning even when they’re not able to physically be in the classroom. Even better, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is recognizing the value of these opportunities and recently approved amendments to the Minnesota Automated Reporting Student System (MARSS) to allow for up to 5 e-Learning days* to count towards required instructional hours.

To ensure that e-Learning days truly support seamless student learning, MDE requires schools and districts looking to take advantage of this option to submit a plan for approval at the beginning of each school year. To help you put together a high-quality plan for next year, we’ve broken down the four e-learning day requirements MDE has outlined along with tips on how Edmentum’s online programs can support your e-learning days.

1. Accommodations for students without sufficient access to the Internet, hardware, or software in their homes

MDE has stipulated that all students must receive a similar learning experience on e-learning days regardless of their access to technology and the internet. Students without access must be given off-line options that are on-par in terms of subject matter, task difficulty, interaction, and should not be expected to make up any e-learning day work at a later time. Students can be provided with alternative printed materials and can complete hand-written work. They should also have access to their teacher throughout the e-learning day by phone.             

How Edmentum programs can help:

  • Take advantage of mobile-optimized courses and lessons for students who rely on smart phones for internet access
  • Leverage printable worksheets and activities available in all programs
  • Assign writing assignments with prompts available within programs

2. Accessible digital instruction for students with disabilities under chapter 125A and meet the needs of each student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP)/504 plans

MDE’s goal in offering the option for e-learning days is to minimize disruptions to student learning, and this has to extend to everylearner. Thought needs to be given to the devices and programs students with IEPs or 504 plans are already comfortable with using in the classroom and how those can be incorporated in e-learning day plans. It’s also important to consider what additional support these students will need in terms of access to and interaction with their instructors in order to have a productive learning experience.

How Edmentum programs can help:

  • Personalized learning paths in Exact Path are created for each learner based on an adaptive diagnostic assessment, and provide scaffolded lessons focused on individual student growth
  • Accessibility tools including text-to-speech, translation, highlighters, and more are built in to all programs
  • Real-time analytics and communication tools allow instructors to closely monitor student progress, quickly provide feedback, and interact with students when assistance is needed

3. Notification to parents and students of the plan must occur at the beginning of the school year and, upon implementation of an e-Learning day, there must be at least two hours’ notice prior to the normal school start time that students are to follow the e-Learning day plan

Setting clear expectations is one of the keys to successful e-learning days, which is why the MDE is prioritizing explicit communication about these days to students and parents both at the start of the school year and in a timely manner when one will occur. Make sure that students understand that e-Learning days are not a day off, and that they must complete all assigned work to stay caught up with their classes. Provide parents with guidelines on how they can support their student on e-Learning days, and remember that for some parents, arranging child care will be a concern on these days. Finally, keep in mind that student attendance must be taken for each class on every e-Learning day. It is being left up to schools and districts whether they want to consider it an excused absence if parents want to opt their student out of e-learning days.

How Edmentum programs can help:

  • Utilizing parent communication tools within each program and ensuring processes are in place in advance of e-learning days
  • Visibility into student time and activity within Edmentum programs can support attendance-taking procedures
  • If Edmentum programs are already embedded in your school or district, utilizing them for e-learning days can provide a more seamless experience for both students and parents

4. Access to teachers via telephone and online during normal school hours

MDE has made it clear that e-learning days must offer parity to standard classroom days in terms of rigor, quality of instruction, and interaction. Just as these days aren’t intended to be a day off or a “catch-up” day for students, neither are they intended to be such for teachers. Teachers should be actively monitoring student progress and providing guidance throughout the e-learning day, and effective tools for communication between students and teachers need to be in place to support this.

How Edmentum programs can help:

  • Study Island Group Sessions (including new game-based sessions!) can facilitate whole-class practice and learning from home
  • Progress monitoring tools like visual reports and real-time notifications help teachers keep tabs on each students’ learning and needs
  • Interactive whiteboard tool in Courseware digital curriculum allows teachers to work through problems directly with students
  • Built in communication tools provide an additional avenue for students to access their teachers

Want to find out more about how Edmentum programs can support MDE-approved e-learning day plans? Check out these blog posts on leveraging Courseware, Exact Path, and Study Island to make sure  learning doesn’t skip a beat when bad weather and other unexpected events keep students and teachers out of the classroom!

*This PDF was created by and belongs to the Minnesota Department of Education. The link to the original document can be found here.