To further implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), SECC provided information to the Office of Federal Programs (OFP) staff as follow-up to previously delivered ESSA PD sessions. In support of the two charter schools PD sessions, SECC shared Charter Authorizers: What They Are & Why They Matter, a two-page special report from the Education Commissions of the States. The report provided an overview of charter school authorizers, explained their role in ensuring charter school accountability, and included examples of Indiana’s and Nevada’s strong authorizing policies. The clear and concise information should prove beneficial to OFP staff in expanding their understanding of charter schools. Additionally, as follow-up to the equitable services professional learning session, SECC shared an April 2017 equitable services frequently asked questions (FAQ) web page from the California Department of Education with the Mississippi ombudsman.
MDE’s eight-person team and SECC participated in the Center on School Turnaround’s (CST) Four Domains Workshop. During the workshop, the MDE team worked on refining the Office of School Improvement’s theory of action (ToA), which will help guide the 2017–2018 school improvement work. It is important to note that the MDE team embraced the concept that turning around low-performing schools will be an agency-wide effort and not limited to the Office of School Improvement. This is an important step forward for providing cohesive services to Mississippi’s low-performing schools, with future agency-wide efforts focused around the four domains, namely Turnaround Leadership, Talent Development, Instructional Transformation, and Culture Shift. This coordinated effort will allow low-performing schools to hear the same language and receive increasingly aligned services from all MDE offices. The MDE team developed next steps during the Four Domains Workshop meeting, and later refined these steps during an August 24 team follow-up GoToMeeting. An implementation timeline for August–November 2017 was developed, with “persons responsible” and “needed resources” identified for each action step. The first face-to-face post-workshop team meeting is scheduled for next month.
Additionally, SECC met with a twelve-person MDE team, including Federal Programs staff, to initiate discussions for the Year 6 Work Plan. Three state priorities were identified by the Mississippi team: early childhood, educator quality/equity, and federal programs/ESSA. Challenges, needs, activities, expected district/school impact, and critical SEA staff were discussed for the state priorities. Follow-up work on the Year 6 Work Plan will continue.