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Chris Minnich Stepping Down as Executive Director of CCSSO, Will Lead NWEA

Chris Minnich, who has served as the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers for the past five years, is stepping down early next year. He will become the executive director of NWEA, a non-profit organization that creates assessments for students, based in Portland, Ore.

During Minnich's tenure, the Council of Chief State School Officers offered states an assist in implementing the Common Core State Standards, which were developed through a partnership between CCSSO and the National Governors Association. And CCSSO played a major role in the development of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act, which gave states significant authority over K-12 policy issues.

"It has been an honor to lead this organization and serve the nation's education chiefs as they have made enormous advancements for students in this country," Minnich said in a statement. "In my nine years at CCSSO, including five as executive director, state chiefs raised academic standards for all kids, improved the way student learning is assessed, transformed the way new teachers are prepared to enter the classroom, and crafted a better federal education law that returns flexibility to the states. Most importantly, we have put equity at the forefront of every conversation."

CCSSO's board of directors will enlist a search firm to select a successor for Minnich.

"Chris Minnich is an incomparable leader who knows how to bring all sides together to take collective action and do what's best for the nation's children," said CCSSO Board President and South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp in a statement. (Schopp recently announced her own retirement.) "We will miss his leadership, but wish him the best in this exciting next step. As an organization, we remain committed to the vision we have set forth in our strategic plan to achieve an equitable education for all children."

CCSSO's new leader will be joining the organization at a critical moment for state K-12 policy. The average tenure of state superintendents, currently at 2 years, has dramatically declined in recent years. Three state chiefs have resigned in the last two weeks alone, including Schopp. With so much turnover, state chiefs and their deputies have increasingly relied on CCSSO to provide interpretation of federal laws, professional development and even statewide context on past initiatives.

Meanwhile, NWEA is excited to have Minnich on board.

"Chris impressed us with his deep expertise with assessment combined with his expansive vision for its possibilities," said Kenneth Wong, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Chair for Education Policy at Brown University, and NWEA board chair in a statement. "We believe he is the right person to lead NWEA into a new era while preserving its mission and values."

From 2005-2008, Minnich held multiple positions at Harcourt, all focused on the advancement and improvement of assessments. Before joining Harcourt, he served as the Director of Test Design and Implementation at the Oregon Department of Education from 2003-2005. While there, he led the statewide implementation of Oregon's online assessment.

Minnich's last day at CCSSO will be January 12. He'll start work at NWEA on January 29. 

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