Minnesota Safe Learning Survey

Context

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz directed schools across the state to implement a localized, data-driven approach to operations. The plan strived to prioritize safe learning for all Minnesota students and provide flexibility for school districts and charter schools to adapt their learning model based on the prevalence of COVID-19 cases in their area. During the 2020-21 school year, schools have moved in and out of different modes of learning based on data in their region and exposure to COVID-19 within their communities or schools.

In the spring of 2020, the Wisconsin-Minnesota Comprehensive Center (WMCC)—a partnership between the University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI), the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative (WEC), and Education Analytics (EA)—worked directly with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to gather information about districts’ and individuals’ experiences with distance learning by conducting focus groups with a variety of stakeholders and completing a systematic review of a sample of over 250 district distance learning plans from across the state. Information from these sources, as well as a wealth of information from educators collected through the University of Minnesota’s Spring 2020 Minnesota PK-12 Distance Learning Survey, was used to inform the WMCC’s decision to develop a statewide survey to gather longitudinal feedback regarding the state’s Safe Learning Plan amid the continued navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WMCC developed the Minnesota Safe Learning Survey to get a true picture of how those being most impacted by the Safe Learning Plan during the 2020-21 academic year—educators, students, and families—are experiencing it. The survey was first administered in February 2021, resulting in the Winter 2021 report released in April of that year. It was administered a second time in May/June 2021, resulting in the Spring 2021 report released in August. The survey will be administered a third time from October to November 2021.

It is the hope of the WMCC that data from the Minnesota Safe Learning Surveys will continue to provide insights as to how educators, students, and families are feeling about school during this unprecedented time in history.