Baesler Explains Changes in Professional Development Days

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Dale Wetzel, Public Information Specialist
Office 701-328-2247
Cell: 701-400-8557

Baesler Explains Changes in Professional Development Days
BISMARCK, N.D., Nov. 18, 2017 – State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler has sent a statement to North Dakota school districts to answer recent questions about how they may schedule educator professional development days during the school year.

North Dakota schools are beginning to plan their calendars for the 2018-19 school year. Baesler said recent changes in how professional development days are allocated have prompted school officials to ask questions about the procedure.

In 2015, the North Dakota Legislature reserved two days during each school year for a professional development conference hosted by an educational organization. The superintendent of public instruction was directed to set aside no more than two days for the conference. During those two days, classes, athletics events and other school activities are not allowed. 

Following that change, in 2016 and 2017, the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders requested that two days during the third week in October be reserved for the organization’s annual school administrators’ conference. Baesler granted the NDCEL’s request for both years.

The two school days set aside for a conference existed before the 2015 changes, but they were known as “teachers’ conference days” and used to attend the annual conference of the North Dakota Education Association, the predecessor to North Dakota United.

However, in 2009, the Legislature gave school districts more flexibility during those two days to decide how to provide professional development for teachers. Many districts decided to hold local or regional training sessions, and quit compensating teachers for attending the statewide teachers’ conference. Attendance at the conference dwindled, and North Dakota United eventually discontinued it.

Instead, North Dakota United has become one of a number of education partners that sponsor the NDDPI’s Fall Educators Conference. The NDDPI conference has been held during the second week in October for more than 25 years. More recently, it has expanded into a major professional development event for school superintendents, principals and teachers.

The sponsors also include the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board, the North Dakota University System, the Bank of North Dakota, ND EduTech, the Education Technology Council, the University of Mary, United Tribes Technical College, Learning Forward, and North Dakota’s eight Regional Education Associations.