Schools for Equity in Education

– Legislative Update

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This week, the education committees looked at how students are doing academically. The House reviewed a study released by NWEA Research that looked at the impact of the pandemic on students’ education.    As expected, compared to pre-pandemic scores, student achievement at the start of this school year is lower in all student groups, with a more significant decline of 9 to 11 percent in math compared to 3 to 7 percent in reading.   Also, historically marginalized students (based on race and poverty) and students in high-poverty schools were disproportionately impacted and fell even further behind their peers.

The Senate looked at school districts’ progress in their students meeting the five goals of the World’s Best Workforce (WBWF).

  • Kindergarten readiness
  • Third-grade reading proficiently
  • Closing the achievement gap
  • Career and college readiness
  • Four-year graduation rate

The 2022 annual report on the WBWF released the statewide data on third-grade reading, the achievement gap, and graduation. With the WBWF’s goal of 90% attainment in these areas, Minnesota has a long way to go to make sure its historically underserved (based on race, English proficiency, disabilities, and poverty) students get the education that they need and deserve.

What can the legislature do to support schools, students, and families to get better outcomes? The education committees had plenty of ideas and heard 19 bills this week, most of which will not go anywhere given Minnesota’s divided government.

The Senate focused on third-grade literacy and education savings accounts. SF3057 temporarily suspends the WBWF for five years, relieving school districts of the hefty reporting requirements. The bill also condenses the goals of the WBWF. Districts would have to adopt a comprehensive plan to have 90% of their students proficient in third-grade reading.  SF3164 expands literacy support in the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) regional centers of excellence. The center’s leadership must be certified in the highly effective LETRS literacy training that focuses on the science of reading. The bill also provides $700,000 to hire more regional literacy directors to support educators in meeting the proposed literacy goal. Reading by third grade is inherently linked to a student’s success in school and life.  Maybe it is time to put a laser focus on LETRS or similar programs that are evidence-based and scientifically proven to be successful in helping students read at grade level.

SF1525 establishes education savings accounts (ESA), a voucher program that spends $178 million for students to attend private and religious schools. An argument could possibly be made for this competitive grant program if it targeted Minnesota’s at-risk students. However, although eligibility is based on the federal definition of poverty, a family of four making up to $150,000 a year is eligible. Families on the higher end of the household income limit are much more likely to successfully navigate the process to obtain these first-come, first-served grants. Read more on how the vouchers work. See the response from the major education organizations, including SEE.

The House heard HF3300, the companion bill for the Senate LETRS bill that provides $30 million in grants for teachers to take LETRS literacy training. Out of the bills heard this week, this is most likely to pass this session. Read more.

The House focused on the whole child this week. Children struggle to learn if they have unmet mental health needs, unstable home environments, or don’t feel safe in school.  HF1083 establishes two mental health experts at MDE to assist schools in meeting the growing mental health needs facing students. Read moreHF3587 expands funding for full-service community schools. The concept is to make schools accessible for struggling students and their families to access a full array of services they need to achieve stability.  Read more. 

Other bills the House heard this week include.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.



Deb Griffiths
Director of Communications and Community Outreach


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SEE Side-by-Side Comparison

See the education funding priorities of the Governor, House, and Senate.

Education Bill Summary

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