Pawlenty Calls on Legislature to Pass Education Reforms
Saint Paul – Governor Tim Pawlenty today called on the legislature to pass a package of reforms that will strengthen Minnesota’s application for round two in the federal “Race to the Top” initiative and improve student achievement. Minnesota was not a finalist in the first round and federal reviewers said the state lacked important reforms such as alternative pathways to teacher licensure and linking teacher evaluations to student performance.
“Minnesota once led the nation in education reform, but other states have passed us because their legislatures stepped up to the plate and enacted bold new measures,” Governor Pawlenty said. “The Race to the Top grant criteria is very clear, and it includes many reforms called for by my administration during the past several years. Regardless of the opportunity to receive additional federal funds, Minnesota needs to pass these reforms to improve our education system and prepare our children for the future.”
Several reforms necessary to strengthen Minnesota’s application are already in legislation moving through the committee process including a bill sponsored by Senator Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) to create alternative pathways to teacher licensure. Minnesota received only 9.2 points out a possible 21 in this area of the grant.
Governor Pawlenty cited two of his proposals that are also in bill form – the Teaching Transformation Act and the Teacher Evaluation & Tenure Renewal System – that would immediately strengthen Minnesota’s application and enact important reforms that will strengthen teacher training and effectiveness and the evaluation of teachers.
Other reforms not yet in bill form but that would improve Minnesota’s application include:
• Requiring a statewide teacher and principal evaluation system that includes 35 percent of the evaluation based on student achievement
• Requiring the use of Q Comp in every district and adding principals to Q Comp
• Granting the Commissioner of Education authority to intervene in low-performing schools
• Developing a definition of “highly effective teacher”
• Granting school districts and the state the authority to place highly effective teachers in high-need sites
• Providing incentives for highly effective teachers to teach in high-need sites
“These reforms are eventually going to happen in Minnesota, just as they are happening around the country,” Governor Pawlenty said. “The only question is whether Minnesota will lead the way or be dragged along. There’s a growing consensus around what must be done to ensure our children receive a top-notch education. This is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. Now it’s time for the legislature to come together in a bipartisan way to pass these reforms on behalf of our students and future students.”
The application deadline for round two in “Race to the Top” is June 1, 2010. Governor Pawlenty said the state would only apply if significant reforms are passed during this legislative session. If selected in round two, Minnesota could receive up to $175 million in federal funding over three years.
Important education reforms proposed during the 2010 session include:
• Alternative Pathways for Teacher Licensure (SF 2757-Bonoff) – Includes options for alternative licensure through programs not linked to higher education, including non-profit programs like Teach for America and school-board approved programs such as residency models.
• Teaching Transformation Act (HF 3163-Mariani; SF 3028-Stumpf) – Includes proposals to strengthen teacher preparation programs such as aligning teacher preparation standards with K-12 student standards, requiring candidates to pass the basic skills test prior to entry into teacher preparation programs, strengthening teacher preparation in elementary mathematics, monitoring the effectiveness of teacher and administrator programs using student performance data, and incorporating national standards for effective school leadership into the licensing standards for principals.
• Teacher Evaluation & Tenure Renewal System (HF 3388-Garofalo; SF 3028-Stumpf) – Requires a strengthened induction period for new teachers, evaluations based on multiple measures, including academic achievement growth of students, and renewal of tenure every 5 years.