ECM Editorial: Center for School Change earns kudos for PSEO school study

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Editorial opinion from the ECM Editorial BoardMinnesota has some of the nation’s best programs that enable high school students to take free accredited college classes. This includes the Postsecondary Enrollment Options program, which is open to students grades 10-12.

In order for students and their parents to make good planning decisions on taking college classes, state law requires that all district and charter schools provide “up-to-date” information on their websites and distribute materials to students in grades 8-11 and their families by March 1.

The Center for School Change, located in St. Paul, has released stunning results of a study involving 128 school districts and charter schools, including one from each of the 87 counties. The study revealed that fewer than 1 percent of those districts provided students with complete information on their websites on six major points of the Postsecondary Enrollment Options law.

Moreover, the CSC study found that some districts did not provide any information on their websites on the PSEO options. Most provided only part of the information on such basic facts that under PSEO, tuition, books and fees are free, or that there is a 10th-grade PSEO option, or that students had to declare their intention to take college courses by May 30.

This is shameful.

Under PSEO, students in grade 10 who meet certain standards can take technical and career courses. Students in grades 11 and 12 can take free college credit courses either at the colleges or online.

Tuition, books and fees are all paid for students who take these courses. Money to pay transportation costs of students from low-income families is provided.

The Minnesota Department of Education, to its credit, has acted swiftly on learning the results of the study by the Center for School Change and its director, Joe Nathan. (Nathan writes a weekly column for ECM Publishers Inc. newspapers.)

The MDE is revising its website with revisions made by the 2015 Minnesota Legislature. And on Aug. 14, MDE sent a note to every district and charter school urging them to take the message and transmit it via their websites to help inform parents. We urge districts and charters to provide this information by January 2016, when students begin registering for the 2016-17 school year.

A follow-up study by the Center for School Change is planned this fall, anticipating the March 1 date required by the law to notify students and parents.

ECM Publishers Editorial Board commends the Center for School Change, Nathan, assistant director Marisa Gustafson and intern Diana Chao for their revealing study. Since 1989, CSC has worked directly to improve education, with schools, families, community members and policymakers. More on the center can be found at

– An opinion of the ECM Editorial Board


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