The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides new flexibility for states with respect to high school assessments. ESSA allows a Local Education Agency (LEA) to administer a locally selected, nationally recognized assessment in lieu of the state test in high school. Under the approved North Dakota ESSA plan, Superintendent Baesler has given school districts the option to use the ACT (grade 11) for accountability in lieu of the grade 10 North Dakota State Assessment (NDSA) for English Language Arts/Literacy and Math.

In Spring 2018, the US Department of Education conditionally allowed districts in North Dakota to administer the grade 11 ACT in lieu of the grade 10 NDSA, with the understanding that NDDPI would go through the federal peer review process to ensure continued use of this option.  December 2018, NDDPI submitted their federal peer review to the Department of Education.  In April 2019, NDDPI received notification that the ACT Substantially Meets Requirements as a locally selected, nationally recognized high school academic assessments in reading/language arts and mathematics.  NDDPI was required to provide additional evidence in support of ACTs continued use as an accountability tool.   This included an alignment study which was completed in fall 2019.


NDDPI recently conducted an ACT standard setting workshop, facilitated by EdMetric. A group of secondary and postsecondary educators worked to determine proficiency levels for English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. To assist in this process, the Achievement Level Descriptors and predetermined cut scores from the NDSA were considered, as were the current ACT Benchmarks and North Dakota University Systems (NDUS) ACT Placement Level Scores. Additionally, ACT impact data, NDUS remedial information, and other ACT research and data were used by educators in making an informed decision. Superintendent Baesler has approved the proposed cut scores for ACT.

The approved ACT cut scores will be used for determining proficiency for those districts using the assessment for accountability purposes. Below are the approved ACT Proficiency Levels.

Subject Partially Proficient Proficient Advanced
Mathematics 17 22 26
ELA 14 19 24

ACT's ELA score is a combination of the ACT English, Reading, and Writing scores.

The following is a list of the 65 districts using the ACT for accountability in 2023-2024:   

Districts Using ACT for Accountability
 *Ashley  *Beach  *Beulah  *Bismarck
 *Bottineau  *Bowman Co  *Burke Central  *Carrington
 *Cavalier  *Central Cass  *Devils Lake  *Dickinson
 *Drake  *Edgeley  *Fargo  *Garrison
 *Grand Forks  *Grenora  *Griggs Co Central  *Harvey
 *Kenmare  *Kindred  *Kulm  *Larimore
 *Leeds  *Lewis and Clark  *Lidgerwood  *Linton
 *Lisbon  *Mandan  Mandaree  Max
 *May-Port CG  *McKenzie Co  *Medina  *Midkota
 *Midway  Milnor  *Minnewaukan  *Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood
 *Mott-Regent  *Mt Pleasant  *Munich  *Nesson
 *New Rockford-Sheyenne  *North Star  *Northern Cass  *Park River Area
 *Pingree-Buchanan  *Powers Lake  *Rugby  *St John
 *Thompson  *Turtle Lake-Mercer  *Underwood  *Valley City
 *Valley-Edinburg  *Wahpeton  *Washburn  *West Fargo
 *White Shield  *Williston Basin  *Wilton  *Wing

*Returning Districts