We advance proven solutions toward more great schools

We're elevating what's possible & demonstrating how other cities have increased the number of high-performing schools.

Systemic change takes strong, empowered principals; access to grade-appropriate curriculum; meaningful school performance frameworks; equity and choice in enrollment; and diversity among teachers and school leaders.


Strong principals empowered to lead

Great schools prove that all children can achieve when given the opportunity—it starts with strong school leaders empowered to lead

Cities that effectively close gaps empower schools with flexibilities and decision-making.

Site-based decision-making entails flexibility around time, people, and money:

  • Time—length of day, how students and staff spend their time during the day
  • People—staffing models, hiring decisions, retention decisions
  • Money—budget decisions, staffing models, interventions, partnerships

Successful site-based decision-making also requires:

  • Belief that schools are the unit of change
  • Investment in principal recruitment, development, retention
  • Partnerships with families
  • Teacher leadership

Multi-measure school performance framework

When school improvement strategies are anchored in frameworks, gaps close

Minnesota has excelled at collecting education data, from mastering state standards to college completion. However, our community lacks access to school data and systems lack a common framework from which to apply school-level interventions.

Chicago, Denver, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans are among the cities effectively closing gaps for students underserved. A chief theme—school performance frameworks.

They provide a meaningful, comparable, and understandable definition of school performance across a variety of measures—academic proficiency and progress, culture and climate, diversity, and discipline—to support informed actions from educators, leaders, and families with:

  • Family and community information
  • School continuous improvement
  • System management and accountability
Sample D.C. framework.

School Performance Framework Working Group

Our working group of community, content, and advocacy experts is helping provide guidance and feedback as we engage the broader community in the development of a multi-measure school performance rating that will replace the current Minneapolis School Finder academic rating for schools. Member organizations include:

  • Bellwether Education Partners
  • Centro Tyrone Guzman
  • Chicago Public Education Fund
  • Constellation Fund
  • EdAllies
  • Education Evolving
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
  • Generation Next
  • Graves Foundation
  • Lead The Way Minnesota
  • Little Earth
  • Minnesota Business Partnership
  • MN Parent Union
  • Northside Achievement Zone
  • Page Amendment
  • University of St. Thomas

Interested in learning more, or engaging in the work?

Contact Karn Engelsgjerd at Great MN Schools: kengelsgjerd@greatmnschools.org

School choice & enrollment practices grounded in equity can ensure more underserved families access great schools

Many underserved families struggle to get into their first-choice school, stemming from enrollment processes that they find challenging and inequitable.

U.S. districts with equitable school placement policies commit to:

  • Robust engagement campaigns that effectively reach historically underserved populations, encouraging full participation in the process
  • Clear, transparent rules that are easily accessible to all families and followed by staff to ensure uniform placement experiences
  • Matching rules that reduce manipulable mechanisms in school choice, ensure resource-rich families do not inequitably benefit

Equity enrollment & choice—for all families


Expanding pathways to the teaching profession is a proven solution to grow the pipeline of talented, diverse teachers

For Minneapolis’ diverse student make-up, teachers of color can strengthen:

Teachers of color particularly utilize alternative pathways to enter the profession. The new, state-approved TNTP preparation program marks an initial step to diversify the teacher workforce (TNTP is committed to enrolling 50% of candidates who are people of color, and is slated to launch Teach MN in 2022).


Diverse teachers & school leaders


Every student deserves grade-appropriate curriculum & strong, engaging instruction, provided by teachers who are prepared & supported

Only 25% of indigenous, black and Latinx 4th graders in Minneapolis read at grade-level, compared to 80% of white students. The disparity of their experiences in schools is a leading contributor to this inequity. But with access to four crucial resources, underserved students rise to the challenge:

1. Grade-appropriate assignments
2. Strong instruction
3. Deep engagement
4. Teachers with high expectations

With grade-appropriate assignments, as evidenced by 'The Opportunity Myth,' students can gain 2 months of additional learning. With higher expectations, they can gain 4 months of additional learning.

We make tools available that can help families understand if their child is accessing these resources and advocate at the school level.


Grade-appropriate curriculum & instruction


The science behind how children learn to read

Strong literacy programs–grounded in the Science of Reading–are the foundation for a lifetime of learning

Students who can not read by the end of third grade are four-times more likely to drop out of high school.

Conversely, 89% of low-income students who achieve reading proficiency by third grade graduate from high school.

At Great MN Schools, we work alongside schools, community, and systems to improve and strengthen literacy programs.



Empowered school communities

School performance frameworks

Equity in school choice & enrollment

  • An issue brief by Great MN Schools documenting best practices among large U.S. cities & districts