“Great schools change everything.”
Those words offered by Daniel Sellers, executive director of MinnCan demonstrate what could be in Minnesota when it comes to K-12 education.
Unfortunately, that is not the case, as the state continues to see a major achievement gap in various groups, such as students of color, low-income students and Native American students.
MinnCAN, the Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now, is a non-profit entity focused on improving education in the state through various efforts.
Nicholas Banovetz, MinnCAN deputy director, made a stop in Redwood Falls this past week to talk about current education trends and policy it is working to implement as part of a 12-city tour.
Stopping in Redwood Falls was intended not only as an effort to raise awareness of the education issues facing the state but also to recognize the Redwood Area School District as a top-performing school when it comes work being done to close the achievement gap.
A similar stop was made in Morgan as part of the tour.
Banovetz stopped by Cedar Mountain in Morgan to talk with staff about issues they see as concerns and to recognize the secondary school, which listed ninth in the state in the middle school for low-income student performance.
Reede Gray Elementary School was seventh among elementary schools in the state for Native American student performance, while RVMS was second among middle schools in Native American student performance. All are things for staff, administrators and the community as a whole to be proud of, said Banovetz.
The rankings are based on the results from the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests which were administered in Spring 2012.
Closing the achievement gap among all student groups is a major focus of leadership at the Minnesota Department of Education, and that focus has also been emphasized by MinnCan leadership.
Banovetz said Minnesota in some of those areas has extremely low scores, adding the state has one of the lowest rankings for socioeconomic scores in the country.
That, agreed Banovetz, does not reflect the tradition Minne-sota has maintained over the years as one of the leaders of education in the nation.
Getting back to that leadership spot is one of the goals of MinnCAN, as it creates policy that focuses on improving graduation rates and increases the investment in early childhood education. MinnCAN, which has been in existence for nearly three years, has helped to create 14 different education-related policies in the state.
Banovetz said the intent is to shine a light on those areas where education programming being offered is working and to help demonstrate what a great school is supposed to look like.
Part of the tour in rural areas of the state is intended to help MinnCAN hear the points of view from education leaders and then to take those ideas back to help create even more policies that enhance education for kids. Find out more at www.minncan.org.