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9. Curriculum & instruction is student-focused—& equitable

Teaching & learning—

at schools that work, effective teaching means all kids are learning & meeting high expectations

Never

Sometimes

Frequently

Frequently

Always

What to look for: 1. Room setup meets different learning styles 2. Students have the opportunity to make choices regarding their learning & know how their learning is measured 3. Teachers use assessments & teacher evaluations to inform/modify instruction 
 4. Curriculum is reflective of the diversity of the students

7. There’s diversity, experience & cultural intelligence among educators Never

Sometimes

Always

Sample questions: • How do teachers accommodate different learning styles & tailor instruction?
 • How does your curriculum & instruction include different perspectives (multicultural, community experts...)? • What are your special education & Emotional Behavior Disorder rates by race & ethnicity? [Black students account for 67% of those receiving an EBD label in the MPLS district4] • Does the curriculum include opportunity for family voice & choice? 
 • How do teachers provide feedback to students? How do you collect student feedback? • Does the student demographic make-up in advanced courses mirror your school’s enrollment?

What to look for: 1. The number of teachers of color represents student demographics, cultural diversity in school leadership 2. Educator completion of cultural competency trainings
 3. Utilization of frameworks to meet student needs Sample questions: • What percent of teachers of color do you hire & retain? How many have 3+ years of experience? [Teachers of color = 17% in the MPLS district3] • Have all teachers completed cultural competency trainings in compliance with state law? 
 • What additional trainings do teachers participate in? Are they effective? • How do you help teachers become well-versed in trauma-informed practice, positive youth development, social-emotional learning or other frameworks?

Notes:

Authentic engagement & learning— a checklist for families

MINNEAPOLIS

SCHOOL

FINDER A RESOURCE GUIDE FOR PARENTS

Schools that work deliver on rigor & relevance Choosing a school for your child should be an exciting & empowering experience. You have options & it’s important to find a school that offers relevant learning, meaningful relationships & is a best-fit to meet your child’s academic needs.

How to use this checklist—whether you’re looking for a school or seeking change at a current one

Notes:

Measure the learning & experiences schools offer. The following indicators focus on academics & relevance—that is, how well the school responds to the diverse needs of the communities they serve.

10. Students access grade-level curriculum & assignments Never

8. Context for families on curriculum & learning Never

A guide to schools that work

Sometimes

Frequently

What to look for: 1. Throughout the year, families know if the child is on track (in addition to grades) 2. Families have opportunities to understand how curriculum is selected & provide feedback 3. Back-to-school nights (or other events) introduce systems to share data & student performance information 4. Literacy nights (or other events) provide families with academic scores & differentiated information to deepen their understanding of school outcomes

Always

Instructions:

Sample questions: • Does your curriculum meet state standards? • What does effective teaching mean to your teachers? • What are your interventions for students who are not mastering state standards & grade-level content? • How do you prepare kids for college? What college prep courses are offered? What indicators do you monitor to ensure kids are on track for college?

Each indicator features sample questions you can ask to get the answers you deserve & “What to look for” to verify that the school is doing what they claim. When touring a school or reflecting on a school that your child already attends, fill out this sheet. You have a right to a high-quality education for your child.

Never

(not evident)

Notes:

Sometimes (~50% meets)

Frequently (~75% meets)

Always

(100% meets)

Circle the category that corresponds to what you find—ask questions & take notes! When finished, is it a best-fit school for your family? 1

Minnesota Department of Education ‘Report Card’ for the 2018-19 school year.

2

“Why Are Black Students Punished So Often? Minnesota Confronts a National Quandary.” The New York Times, March 18, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/18/us/politics/school-discipline-disparities-white-black-students.html.

3

Minnesota Department of Education ‘Report Card’ for the 2018-19 school year.

4

How one man is challenging the over-representation of black students in special education.” MinnPost, Oct. 12, 2017. https://www.minnpost.com/education/2017/10/how-one-man-challenging-over-representation-black-students-special-education/.

Notes:

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Frequently

What to look for: 1. Students access grade-level materials 2. Students are reading & doing math at grade level; evidence of academic growth 3. For high schools, graduation requirements match college admission requirements & percentage of graduates who attend (& graduate from) college

Always

Sample questions: • What’s your vision for my child? What’s being taught? • How do families understand what kids should “master” each school year? • Are you a pathway to college (college tours, earning college credits in high school...)? • How does the school monitor academic achievement throughout the year? [There are 27 schools in MPLS—out of 143—where underserved kids outpace district average on proficiency or progress] • Do you allow parents to engage in school improvement? How do they engage?

Sometimes

We welcome feedback on this tool as we prepare to include it in the 4th edition of Minneapolis School Finder: info@mncomeback.org.

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Would you like one-on-one support? Contact a Family Advocate: 612-567-6810, FamilyAdvocates@MinneapolisSchoolFinder.org mncomeback.org 1330 Lagoon Ave 4th floor Minneapolis, MN 55408


Start Here 3. Real opportunities to include families & bridge cultural backgrounds

Family engagement & communication—

schools that work are family focused & have constructive, respectful relationships

Never

1. Communication & events are responsive to families’ cultures & needs Never

Sometimes

Frequently

Always

What to look for: 1. Meetings scheduled around parent availability
 2. Interpreters are available; translations reflect school demographics & are standard practice (emails, letters) 3. School personnel changes are communicated to families in real time 4. Access & training for online communication (calendar, grades, messages, attendance) Sample questions: • Does your school offer home visits or family-teacher conferences in the community? 
 • Do you provide interpreters for events? 
 • How are families informed of staffing changes during the school year? 
 • What ways & how often do teachers make contact with families (e.g., positive phone calls, multilingual notes)?

Sometimes

Frequently

Family voice & leadership—

Always

What to look for: 1. School tours are conducted by families & staff 2. The school has a family liaison or someone responsible for working with & advocating for families 
 3. Educators are encouraged/expected to participate in opportunities that get them out of their comfort zone 
 4. Schools give families tools to engage other families &/or connect Sample questions: • Do you help facilitate or empower families to reach out to each other, including those who might be less engaged? If yes, can you describe how this has affected parent engagement? • Do you provide parents with access to advocacy or parent empowerment trainings? If yes, do parents attend? • What is the process for family volunteers? 
 • Can families suggest professional development & training topics?

these are present at schools that work

5. Site council, board &/or advisory council representative of the school’s diversity Never

Sometimes

Frequently

Always

What to look for: 1. Families are presenters/experts of their culture 2. There is a family/parent advisory committee, site council, &/or Parent Teacher Association Sample questions: • Do you have parents on your board or council? What are the demographics? • Do you have a parents’ bill of rights? • What is the process to participate in your family leadership group? 
 • In what way do family leadership groups impact school decisions?

Notes:

Notes:

4. Fair discipline rules & percentages

6. Families set values or principles with school leaders, evaluate how the school lives up to those values

Notes:

Never

2. Welcoming, responsive climate & culture Never

Sometimes

Frequently

Always

What to look for: 1. Signage around the school is multilingual (main office, library, cafeteria) 
 2. Families & students are welcomed when they enter the building, families can easily visit their child’s class 
 3. Principal engagement opportunities & other events are relevant & worthwhile for families (family night, carnival, talent shows, game night, book fair) 
 4. Accommodations for participation at conferences & events (interpreters, transportation, child care, food) 
 5. Other examples of diversity & inclusion being a high priority (e.g., named as part of the school’s mission &/or a core value) Sample questions: • What’s your attendance percentage? [In the MPLS district, 82% Latinx, 73% black & 48% indigenous kids attend 90% or more school days1] • What are your retention percentages for teachers & staff—for people of color? • Explain how your school welcomes parent feedback & your system for responding to it. • What is the procedure for visiting my child’s classroom? 
 • How do you make it easier for families to participate in school events (transportation, interpreters…)?

Sometimes

Frequently

Always

What to look for: 1. Percentages are reported out (e.g., suspension, expulsion) & broken down by race & ethnicity 2. School uses Restorative Practices as a way to promote relationships & reduce suspensions 3. Discipline-based communication are sensitive to historical trauma, avoid triggering words Sample questions: • Have school staff been trained in Restorative Practices? 
 • Does the school use Culturally Responsive Behavior Interventions—or something similar? 
 • What discipline actions do you track (suspensions, dismissals...)? Do you share percentages by race & ethnicity? [Black students account for 76% of suspensions in the MPLS district2]

Never

Sometimes

Frequently

Always

What to look for: 1. No undermining of families or cultures—the school is not intimidating
 2. Families & educators set &/or reflect on values together 3. Families communicate their concerns about the school Sample questions: • Is there a family satisfaction survey—in multiple languages? How do you use the feedback? • What are the ways families communicate? How does the school respond? • What’s the family grievance policy & procedure? Notes:

Notes:

Strong relationships between students, parents & teachers help create the perfect conditions for learning.

Students need to leave school prepared for today’s world.

Notes:

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Profile for MN Comeback

A guide to schools that work  

Designed with and for Minneapolis families to help them demand better schools or ask more from their existing schools. We recommend printin...

A guide to schools that work  

Designed with and for Minneapolis families to help them demand better schools or ask more from their existing schools. We recommend printin...