Governor Pawlenty Introduces Race to the Top Education Reform Bill – April 19, 2010

/ 19 April 2010 / Parents United

Office of the Governor

Saint Paul – Governor Tim Pawlenty today unveiled a comprehensive education reform bill, including many initiatives the Governor previously proposed to the legislature, that would improve Minnesota’s education system, enhance student achievement, and help the state compete in round two of the federal Race to the Top initiative.

“While Race to the Top has focused attention on the need for reform, we should be taking these steps regardless of the financial incentives,” Governor Pawlenty said. “There is a national, bipartisan consensus on many items regarding education reform. The time for action is now.”

The Governor noted state legislatures around the country are enacting or considering education reforms in response to Race to the Top. For example, in Maryland last week the legislature passed a compromise between the governor and teachers unions that reforms tenure, uses student test scores in evaluating teachers, and strengthens math and science requirements. The bill is intended to enhance Maryland’s Race to the Top application.

Tennessee and Delaware were the only two states awarded funds in the first round of Race to the Top. Earlier this year, Tennessee enacted a measure, backed by their Governor, to strongly weigh student testing data in teacher evaluation. The Tennessee Education Association initially opposed the measure, but later agreed to the new standards. Tennessee’s new law also allows the state to intervene in failing schools.

Delaware passed a new law that includes the ability to have teachers rated as “ineffective” for three years removed from the classroom, even if they have tenure. Both Tennessee and Delaware also had the support of their state teachers unions.

“Minnesota has a proud tradition leading the way in education reform. We were the first state to enact open enrollment and charter schools,” Governor Pawlenty said. “The national education reform landscape is changing and leading reform states are adopting these kinds of changes. Eventually these measures will be enacted here, too. The only question is whether Minnesota will lead or be late to the game.”

Governor Pawlenty’s Race to the Top education reform package includes seven major areas:

Teacher Quality and Effectiveness

• Align teacher preparation standards with K-12 student standards.

• Require that candidates for college teacher preparation programs pass the basic skills test prior to entry into the program.

• Strengthen teacher preparation in elementary mathematics and require teaching candidates to pass a math content exam.

• Require teaching candidates to complete at least one course online and also learn how to teach an online course to their students.

• Use student performance data to monitor the effectiveness of college of education teacher and administrator programs.

• Incorporate national standards for effective school leadership, such as the standards developed by the National Institute for School Leaders, into the licensing standards for principals.

Alternative Pathways to Teacher Licensure

• Authorize alternative teacher preparation and licensure programs provided by various types of qualified providers to create pathways for mid-career professionals and others to earn a teaching license.

Tiered Licensure for Teachers and Principals

• Implement a three-tiered system for teacher and principals: Beginning teachers will hold an “initial license,” tenured teachers and principals will hold a “standard license,” and highly effective teachers and principals will hold a “master license.”

Statewide Teacher and Principal Evaluation System and Enhanced Q Comp

• Create the Minnesota Annual Teacher Appraisal System (MNATAS) and the Minnesota Annual Principal Appraisal System (MNAPAS).

• For both MNATAS and MNAPAS a task force will develop an annual review and appraisal process and an evaluation system based on standards of professional practice. Evaluation will include multiple measures of student achievement with at least 35 percent linked to student growth.

• Teachers and principals will be rated “highly effective,” “effective,” “needs improvement” or “ineffective.”

• Enhance Q Comp by including principals in this performance pay program.

**Professional Development and Continuing Tenure for Teachers and Principals

** • Currently teachers receive tenure after just a three-year probationary period. This measure would require ongoing formal evaluation at least once every five years beyond that. Annual evaluations will enable tenured teachers to build a portfolio highlighting professional growth and student achievement, with continued tenure based on this portfolio of work.

• This proposal also puts more professional development and mentoring in place, especially in the crucial first years of teaching.

Authority to Intervene in Persistently Low Performing Schools

• Create authority for the Commissioner of Education to intervene in struggling schools and establish plans to turn around those schools. This would give the commissioner express authority to intervene in struggling schools and help them implement a turnaround strategy.

• Create authority for superintendents to assign highly effective teachers to high-need schools.

Allow Successful Charter Schools to Open Additional Sites

• Allow Minnesota to replicate high-performing charter schools serving high-need students. National models like the highly effective KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) would be able to open more sites without having to charter each individual site.

Many of these initiatives were proposed by Governor Pawlenty more than a year and a half ago, in September 2008, and were introduced as legislation in the 2009 session and again in the 2010 session. Governor Pawlenty called for the passage of these important education reforms in his 2009 and 2010 State of the State addresses.

Minnesota’s first round Race to the Top application received good marks for our charter school environment, strong standards and assessments, our Q Comp performance pay for teachers system, and our focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.

The federal reviewers docked Minnesota’s application for failing to have alternative pathways to teacher licensure, not strongly linking student achievement to teacher evaluations, failing to define “highly effective teachers,” incomplete teacher preparation programs, an inability to intervene in failing schools, and lack of support from teachers unions.


April 6, 2010 – Minnesota Race to the Top – Compares Minnesota’s scores to RTTT winners Delaware and Tennessee. PDF of PowerPoint prepared to support Tuesday’s RTTT meeting, Minnesota Department of Education (MinnPost article).