Baesler Praises Approval of New North Dakota Education Plan

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Dale Wetzel, Public Information Specialist
Office 701-328-2247
Cell: 701-400-8557
Baesler Praises Approval of New North Dakota Education Plan

BISMARCK, N.D., Sept. 1, 2017 – State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said Friday that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has approved North Dakota’s plan to replace the outdated No Child Left Behind education law. The new plan emphasizes academic improvement for all students and has better measurements of school quality, as well as transparency and accountability for North Dakota parents and taxpayers.

North Dakota’s plan implements the new Every Student Succeeds Act. It is the product of more than a year of work by a group of more than 50 education stakeholders, including teachers, parents, school administrators, legislators and representatives of education groups.
Baesler assembled the group, which is called the ESSA Planning Committee, shortly after ESSA was signed into law in December 2015.

“North Dakota crafted our ESSA plan after extensive engagement with stakeholders in our state,” Baesler said Friday. “They created a formula of education accountability, based on our North Dakota values, which struck a balance of high expectations of proficiency and growth for all students.”

Baesler said the Every Student Succeeds Act offers much greater flexibility for state and local education planning and innovation than did No Child Left Behind, which focused almost exclusively on test scores and high school graduation rates to rank schools.

“Under NCLB, the Education Department had extensive control over local education practices,” Baesler said. “ESSA returns control to the states.”

Key elements of North Dakota’s ESSA plan are:
  • Creation of an easy to read and understand North Dakota education dashboard that will allow parents, schools and communities determine where to best direct resources.
  • “Choice Ready” indicators will be used to measure the quality of high schools. Students will need to meet requirements in at least two of the three pathways -- college ready, career ready or military ready -- to be considered Choice Ready.
  • Ineffective teaching strategies will be evaluated and used to measure quality of instruction. The results will be used to direct targeted professional development resources and report ineffective teacher equivalents to ensure disadvantaged students are not taught at disproportionate rates by ineffective teachers. 
  • Implements an evidence-based framework for implementing academic supports and interventions to improve achievement for all students.
  • Utilizes attainment of General Equivalency Diploma for high school accountability to meet the needs of traditional and non-traditional students, keeping true to North Dakota’s commitment to meet all students’ needs.
 “This plan reflects what’s best for the students in North Dakota,” Baesler said. “We are excited to implement an accountability system that was written with supports and interventions to best meet the needs of students in our state, and improve academic achievement for all students over time.”

A complete copy of North Dakota’s plan, along with information about the work of the ESSA Planning Committee, is on the Department of Public Instruction’s website.

Baesler said the Department of Education’s approval of North Dakota’s plan represents only the beginning of how the plan will be used to improve education in the state.

The superintendent has named nine committees to oversee its implementation and suggest additional improvements. The committees are focusing on subjects such as student growth, teacher and administrator effectiveness and innovative learning techniques.