BISMARCK, N.D., Sept. 22, 2022 – State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler announced Thursday that updated school accountability reports, which show performance information about North Dakota’s schools, have been published for students, their families, school teachers and administrators, and taxpayers to review.
“North Dakotans provide billions of dollars for their local schools, and they deserve information about their investment,” Baesler said. “These accountability reports give our citizens and taxpayers an indication of how their schools are doing.
“Even in our best schools, we can always be better,” Baesler said. “With the support of our Legislature and governor, we expect a culture of continuous improvement, and strive to give North Dakotans information about school trends in an understandable and transparent manner.”
North Dakotans may use a state website, Insights of North Dakota, to look at state, school district, and individual school information. Users can click on “Explore Public K-12,” followed by “Data for Specific District or School” to peruse data for local individual districts or schools. Some data may not be available for privacy reasons if a grade or student group has fewer than 10 members.
A high school’s accountability standing is calculated using graduation rates; test scores; the number of students who earn a general equivalency diploma; school engagement surveys, which show the intensity of student enthusiasm for their education; the progress of students who are not fluent in English; and the number of school seniors who were deemed Choice Ready.
Choice Ready is a measurement of whether a student has acquired essential skills during his or her time in school, and whether students are considered ready for the workforce, military enlistment, or post-secondary education.
In elementary school – defined as grades K-8 – the factors used to measure accountability include test scores and whether they have improved, student engagement, and the proficiency status of English Learner students, many of whom are learning English as a second language.
“These various measurements go beyond test scores in evaluating school performance,” Baesler said. “Schools are not judged by test scores alone, as has been the case in the past. Our schools are measured on a multitude of diverse factors that go into creating a quality educational experience.”
A federal law, called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), requires all state education agencies to create an annual accountability report for every public school in their states. The specifics of North Dakota’s report are crafted by a planning committee that includes representation from numerous stakeholder groups, including families, teachers, school administrators and legislators.
To promote education betterment, North Dakota schools have created continuous school improvement plans, which are updated annually and include one-page “strategy maps” that explain each school’s education priorities. The Department of Public Instruction and local school districts collaborate with Cognia, an education nonprofit, in creating and monitoring these plans.
The process includes identifying schools whose academic performance has consistently been lagging. These schools are identified as “targeted support and improvement” and “comprehensive support and improvement” schools, and NDDPI provides funds, supports, and resources to help improve their results.
The updated accountability reports are based on data from the 2021-22 school year. Federal requirements for the reports were waived for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years because of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. North Dakota’s schools were shut for in-person teaching on March 16, 2020, and buildings remained closed for the remainder of that school year, with instruction taking place online.