SISEP Center Active State

Minnesota Department of Education

Mission: Leading for educational excellence and equity. Every day for every one.

The Minnesota Department of Education has partnered with SISEP for 13 years. Throughout the partnership, MDE has implemented a multitude of evidence-based practices.

“Connecting us with other states engaging in similar implementation work has been appreciated for the networking opportunities and learning.”
Greg Keith, Director of Educator and School Support

Implementation Teams Cascade

Minnesota's Team Structure

Executive Sponsors of SISEP Partnership:

  • Greg Keith, Director of Educator and School Support Division
  • Eric Kloos, Assistant Director of Special Education

State Implementation Science Specialist:

Ellen Nacik State Implementation Specialist

Ellen Nacik serves as a full-time Implementation Specialist in the Division of Special Education at the MN Dept. of Ed. She has partnered in different capacities with SISEP/NIRN since 2009. Her original training is in school psychology. Over the last 28 years, she has partnered with and learned from outstanding teams at the classroom, school, district, county, region, state, and national levels. This experience, paired with opportunities to continuously apply the AIFs to many evidence-based practices in different contexts to improve outcomes, is a most meaningful and rewarding career.

John Gimpl State Implementation Specialist

John Gimpl started his journey with SISEP at the kickoff in 2009. After a few years of learning, he became a state implementation specialist collaborating with districts and schools to monitor their systems to support positive student results. His work focuses on applying implementation successes to general education programs. The most recent emphasis is aligning state efforts regarding MTSS – with a priority on building capacity and effectively implementing core instruction.

SISEP Implementation Specialist

Caryn S Ward Ph.D. Implementation Specialist

Associate Director of Education and Measurement for the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Ward provides intensive, and informed implementation supports to state and local education systems nationally through her work as the co-director of the State Implementation and Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices Center, Center on School Turnaround, and National Center for Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning.

State Management Team (SMT) – Each initiative has leadership level team members who lead projects informed by Active Implementation. MDE continues to work to establish a cabinet level connection to represent this work.

MDE Implementation Team (MIT) - The MDE Implementation Team functions as the state design team in conjunction with IIST. The MIT is made up of education specialists, supervisors and a director who oversee regional, district and school implementation work.

The Role of Purveyors - As part of the team structure, The Minnesota Department of Education works closely with purveyors of the evidence-based practice selected.

Implementation Drivers

Minnesota's Approach

"Helping people do simple better."
Mary Hunt - PBIS Specialist

The approach taken by the Minnesota Department of Education in utilizing the Active Implementation Frameworks to improve student outcomes originated with their State Systemic Improvement Plan. Since then, the process has not only grown and influenced the internal structure of the department, but also their collaborative approach to the work.

The Minnesota Department of Education followed this theory of action when selecting an evidence-based practice to address the graduation gaps of American Indian and Black students with disabilities.

  • Use data to select or target the specific population and specific challenge.
  • Select evidence-based practices that meet the need
  • Develop a cascade of teams from the state level to the building level to support implementation
  • When appropriate, scale-up
  • Monitor continuous implementation & examine outcomes

Throughout this process, the Minnesota Department of Education partnered with regional agencies, local districts, and purveyors to improve upon the implementation process and ensure fidelity.

For example, to improve the gaps in the competency drivers, MDE

  • collaborated with local districts to develop a selection process for the evidence-based practice, Check & Connect
  • To ensure model consistency across districts, MDE contracted with the purveyor of Check & Connect to establish a regular contact person and ensure a standardized training and coaching
  • Each district also identified a Check & Connect coordinator responsible for working with the program contact, coaching individual mentors and manage implementation data.

To develop the organizational drivers, MDE collaborated with districts to establish a Decision Support Data System process that included outcomes, training & mentor data, fidelity data, and capacity data.

Usable Innovations

Minnesota's Usable Innovation

The Minnesota Department of Education has implemented a number of evidence-based practices during their partnership with SISEP Center. Click on each evidence-based practice below to find out more.

For their State Systemic Improvement Plan, Check & Connect was selected by individual districts. Check & Connect was selected by individual districts, using the hexagon tool, as the evidence-based practice to address the gap in graduation rates for Black and American Indian students with disabilities.

Evidence-Based Practice: Check & Connect

Check and Connect is an intervention program designed to support students who are disengaged from school. The core components of Check & Connect include:

  • Mentor
  • "Check"
  • "Connect"
  • Family Engagement
"The C& C intervention, specifically designed to reduce school dropout, includes the core features of monitoring school performance, mentoring, and case management. A case manager “checks” by systematically monitoring the student’s academic, attendance, and behavior performance. The case manager “connects” by mentoring, providing basic interventions on problem-solving and coping for challenges, coordinates intensive interventions if needed, and engages with families. The trained C & C mentor meets with students twice monthly or more based on need (Christenson et al., 2012)."
Developing Implementation Capacity of a State Education Agency to Improve Outcomes for Students with Disabilities Pg.5

Check & Connect utilized a self-assessment checklist for mentors. However, as part of the PDSA Cycle, MDE partnered with the Check & Connect purveyors to develop a practice profile and improve how fidelity is measured for Check & Connect.

As part of the COVID-19 response, Minnesota worked alongside the purveyors to develop the following resources.

Stages of Implementation Exploration Installation Initial Implementation Full Implementation

Minnesota's Journey

With a number of large scale projects in motion, each evidence-based practice holds its own stage of implementation.

Minnesota Capacity Data - All EBPs

Minnesota's State Capacity Assessment

Check & Connect: Full Implementation

Fidelity Measure

Fidelity Measure

Student Outcomes

State Identified Measurable Results

PBIS: Full Implementation school level; Initial Implementation district level

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) has a linked team structure of a State Management Team and State Leadership Team supporting three geographic regional projects (North, Metro Minneapolis/St. Paul, and South) responsible for managing PBIS implementation drivers. The initial SISEPsupported Transformation Zone included two districts supporting schools’ ongoing implementation and sustainability of PBIS.

MTSS: RCE Exploration district level MTSS/Standards-Based Education; Initial Implementation school level

Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) has a core team consisting of our Director of School Support, RCE Coordinator, and MDE specialists tasked with supporting six Regional Centers of Excellence that provide implementation support to schools (while increasing broader support to districts) with the selection and implementation of academic, behavioral, or social-emotional innovations. These schools were identified by their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) designation.

Minnesota State Capacity Data - MTSS

Minnesota State Capacity Assessment
Minnesota's Total Reach
8 Regions
450 Districts
1186 Schools
41129 Teachers
Plan Do Study Act
“...what is the most important improvement cycle? …The second!”
Eric Kloos, Assistant Director of Special Education