School improvement

We believe there are many schools in Minneapolis that are doing good work and have a deep commitment to closing the opportunity gap—we support them in developing and implementing plans that will take them from good to great

In order to increase student access to high-performing schools, our “Good-to-Great” investment strategy focuses on schools of all types that are working to get increasingly excellent results for students.

We believe that having the right tools and supports in place to leverage a school’s strengths—and address needs—can accelerate its growth from “good” to “great.” Eligible schools have shown promising results, based on a review of available data—including the MCA, NWEA/MAP, ACT, graduation rates and/or the 5 Essentials Survey.

These supports progress through the following three phases: diagnostic review, success plan development and implementation support.

If you’re interested in learning more about this program, contact Melissa Long:

Technical assistance

Our school improvement work also includes technical assistance. We believe that targeted technical assistance and expert guidance can help high-potential schools improve and high-performing schools sustain their success.

In partnership with MN Comeback, we make several programs available to proven and promising district, charter and independent schools in Minneapolis. We emphasize supports that build and strengthen leadership capacity at the instructional, operational and governance levels. We work with local and national nonprofit leaders to bring best-in-class practices to high-performing and high-potential schools.

Curriculum and instruction

  • ANetWorks alongside school leadership teams to strengthen their school-wide practice and culture of using learning standards, achievement data and analysis of student work to get breakthrough results for students. The level of partnership with ANet is tailored to school need and readiness for implementation; this can include job-embedded coaching for instructional leaders, interim assessments, data reports, tools and instructional resources, as well as informational supports such as learning walks in participating schools.
  • Bellwether Education PartnersProviding an analysis (School Quality Review) of the current state of the school, equipping the school board and leadership a foundation from which to determine next steps.
  • Executive coachingWe partner with EdFuel, a national nonprofit organization, to provide 15 hours of customized, one-on-one coaching to strengthen leadership and management skills. Participating leaders select an expert coach from a local or national pool based on their identified priorities.
  • Groves Literacy FrameworkThrough a partnership with Groves Academy, schools can access on-site literacy coaching from Groves Academy staff to access and support the implementation of the Groves Literacy Framework, and teach reading and spelling to struggling readers with the goal of reaching on-site sustainability after three years. This evidence-based approach helps both emerging and struggling readers (Tiers 1, 2, and 3) become successful readers.
  • Relay National Principal Academy FellowshipAn intensive year-long, job-embedded leadership program for current principals and principal supervisors. It focuses on data-driven instruction through effective implementation of school-wide systems for collecting and analyzing student work, daily practices to maintain engaging learning environments, and best practices and routines for effective classroom observation and feedback to teachers.
  • TNTP Instructional Culture Insight Survey—Uses teacher feedback to help school leaders understand how their teachers perceive critical components of their school culture. Questions target the school’s instructional leadership practices, adult culture, professional development and leadership, and other key components that make the school a supportive and positive organization within which to work and are indicators that lead to strong instruction, teacher retention and student outcomes.


  • EdOpsSpecializes in the finance, student data and operations work of leading schools: finance and accounting, student data, facilities finance support, strategic consulting and special projects, human resources analytics and operations excellence.

Board and governance

  • CharterSource—Brings an integrated, customized approach to supporting school effectiveness by embedding continuous learning, tools to support implementation and systems to operate efficiently and improve school governance.
  • Eklund Consulting—Makes schools a great place to work so that students have a great place to learn. Eklund measures present workplace conditions, job satisfaction and organizational effectiveness both quantitatively and qualitatively, then uses that data to help schools make improvements in building or system-wide culture.

If you’re interested in learning more about these resources, contact Melissa Long:

Learning cohorts

Note:  Schools are expected to cover a portion of the cost of each program and may be asked to submit a brief proposal explaining how the program will accelerate its progress toward clear goals for improvement. Participating schools will have the opportunity to join communities of practice for certain programs to facilitate community building and learning.

We also support our partner and portfolio schools by partnering with national and local nonprofit leaders to bring best-in-class practices to our schools and by enabling collaboration and learning through access to learning cohorts:

  • Talent-Ready CohortStrengthening effective school-based talent management in hiring, developing and retaining diverse, effective teachers (EdFuel, TNTP and MN Comeback facilitate this cohort).
  • Relay Alumni CohortSupporting local graduates of Relay’s National Principals Academy in implementing what they’ve learned once they return to their own schools and classrooms, facilitated by a Relay coach.
  • Academic Community PartnershipHelping schools improve how they invest in parents as partnersthis work utilizes the Flamboyan Framework to identify priorities and high-impact strategies, including how parents are invited in to give feedback on school improvement (MN Comeback facilitates this cohort).
  • Board Governance CohortFacilitating quarterly, peer-to-peer sessions for board chairs to learn and share about leading a board to embrace its strategic role and address big challenges.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of the above programs, contact Rosie Lais:

…Other resources to explore:
Programs (while these are not funded by Great MN Schools, partner schools have benefited from these programs) 

  • 4mativ—Provides comprehensive and integrated transportation management and technology solutions for schools, districts and others in the education ecosystem.
  • The BARR CenterStrong relationships with students lead to great teaching and positive results. Learn about the eight strategies BARR uses to make this a reality for teachers, students and their families.
  • BoardOnTrackSupporting best practices for charter school governance. Offers some free resources and articles on its website, as well as a membership-based online platform and coaching for managing board work.
  • BoardSourceSupporting best practices for nonprofit organization governance. Offers written resources for free or purchase on its website, as well as a membership-based “Board Support Program.”
  • Education Board Partners (formerly Charter Board Partners)“Dedicated to strengthening nonprofit boards in education.” Provides services focused on recruiting “talented, motivated, and diverse” board members and on “tailored support” for board members and executive directors.
  • Innocent ClassroomStarted in Minneapolis, Innocent Classroom is bridging the relationship gap between students and teachers with real-world conversations and application.
  • Propel NonprofitsMinnesota-based organization supporting nonprofit governance and strategic planning with an emphasis on financial oversight. Provides a free online resource library on its website.
  • School Board PartnersFocusing on “connecting, inspiring, and supporting” individual elected school board members though coaching, consulting and networking services.
  • School-Wide Family Engagement RubricFor schools, made possible by the Flamboyan Foundation. This self-guided and -reported tool illustrates what effective family engagement looks like in its stages of development, can help schools focus and prioritize family engagement efforts, and help schools generate new engagement strategies.
  • UnboundEdIts Standards Institute is a five-day professional development experience for leaders and teachers to better align their math and ELA curriculum and instruction to Common Core standards. It encourages greater understanding of the research behind the standards, and also delivers the practical, day-to-day strategies that can improve instructional practice and leadership in your school.

White papers and reports

  • ‘Talent Playbook’Provides clarity for school leaders on critical actions to help hire, develop & retain the best people to advance student learning.
  • Teaching Comes First—Assessment strategy from ANet.
  • ‘The Opportunity Myth’Too many students graduate from high school still unprepared for the lives they want to lead. To find out why, TNTP asked the students themselves and found that students need these four key resources in their daily school experiences:
      • Grade-appropriate assignments;
      • Strong instruction;
      • High expectations; and
      • Deep engagement.