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Minnesota’s New Education Budget: Using Increased Funding to Close Achievement Gaps

Minnesota’s New Education Budget: Using Increased Funding to Close Achievement Gaps

It took a special session, but in the last week of May, the Minnesota Legislature passed a 2-year, $20 billion education spending bill. So, now that the ink has dried, what will this new budget actually mean for Minnesota educators? Here are the highlights:

  • A 2% increase (totaling $388 million) in per-pupil funding as dictated by the funding formula used by school districts for operations
  • New special education funding totaling more than $90 million to cover the “cross subsidy” left to districts between federal and state funding for required services
  • A total of $30 million to improve school safety, spurred by recent school shootings
  • Continued funding of $40 million for 4,000 preschool spots at districts across the state

Ultimately, these are modest increases from the current budget. However, this new budget does enable Minnesota educators to invest in additional resources to address persistent achievement gaps and better serve students with special needs. It also marks a good opportunity for administrators to look carefully at current spending within their own organizations and consider ways to maximize these new dollars.

Keep ESSA Accountability Requirements Top of Mind

Under new ESSA requirements, growth is a top priority in Minnesota and nationwide. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) ESSA Accountability Plan sets ambitious goals to be met by 2025, including to reach a 90% graduation rate for all students, with no student group rate below 85%; to attain 85% of English language learners making progress in achieving English proficiency; and to achieve 90% proficiency rates in 3rd grade literacy and 8th grade math, respectively, with no student group rate below 85%. To comply with these requirements and stay competitive within Minnesota’s open enrollment system, school and district budgets, especially related to classroom technology and online programs, need to be built with a focus on resources that enable this kind of significant student growth.

Leverage Assessment to Address Achievement Gaps

When student growth and closing achievement gaps are at the forefront, comprehensive diagnostic and formative assessment programs are an efficient way to put expanded budget dollars to use in order to pinpoint student needs and personalize instruction. Formative assessment and Minnesota K–12 Academic Standards–aligned practice tools, like Edmentum’s Study Island, can be a cost-effective way to help classroom educators get a pulse on progress and support students in general population classrooms with targeted content. Meanwhile, more robust adaptive diagnostics combined with automated personalized learning paths, like Exact Path from Edmentum, can precisely pinpoint gaps in understanding and prescribe tailored playlists of lessons and activities to build upon existing knowledge and achieve real growth for students in need of intervention. The best programs can fill multiple needs, not only providing student data but helping you answer that critical question of “what’s next?”

Growth in Action: How Apple Valley’s FIT Academy is Using Assessment for Learning

Edmentum partners are proving how effective a combined approach of assessment and targeted practice can be. Assessment is absolutely critical to the mission of FIT Academy, a charter school in Apple Valley currently serving students in grades K–9, with plans to soon expand through grade 12. At FIT Academy, a holistic approach and the learning science behind movement is used not only to help instill lifelong healthy habits but also to help students, many of whom struggled at previous schools, achieve academic growth. With extra time for activity built into the school day, FIT Academy administrators and teachers rely on regular assessments administered through Exact Path and Study Island for meaningful insights to provide the kind of personalized instruction students need, all within cohesive and streamlined, student- and educator-friendly platforms.

Ready to see how Edmentum’s programs Study Island and Exact Path can stretch your budget dollars and support MDE goals for student academic growth to close achievement gaps? Download our guide to Assessment for Learning!