BISMARCK, N.D., June 9, 2022 – State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said North Dakota school board members have begun new leadership training sessions, which are intended to sharpen their focus on improving their students’ academic performance.
Members of the Carrington, Rugby, Nedrose, and Dickinson school boards have attended the two-day program, called the North Dakota Be Legendary School Board Leadership Institute. The four school boards were recognized Thursday at the Governor’s Summit on Innovative Education in Dickinson. Members of other school boards are expected to take the training this summer.
The program focuses on school board adoption of student outcome goals, ways of monitoring and measuring progress toward those goals, and promoting teamwork and advocacy among board members.
These goals include:
- Raising the percentage of North Dakota high schools whose students are graduating “Choice Ready,” which is a measurement of student proficiency and readiness;
- Doubling the percentage of third-grade students who are proficient readers by the 2025-26 school year;
- Reducing achievement gaps for low-income and Native American students by 25 percent each year for the next five years; and
- Raising the percentage of students who, in an annual survey, describe themselves as engaged in their learning.
Dustin Hager, the president of the Rugby school board, said he believed all North Dakota school boards would benefit from the training. Rugby and Carrington school board members attended the institute together at Rugby High School in April.
“This provides a great learning opportunity. So often, we’re in a silo, we’re making some of these decisions on our own,” Hager said. “It’s nice to be able to hear from some of the struggles, and some of the successes, of neighboring school districts.”
“I think it’s given us an alternate look at how we look at goal writing, how we look at student engagement, student performance,” Hager said. “For a long time, we focused a lot on the business of the board and not necessarily paying attention to all of the student outcome goals. This will help to refocus us back onto what’s most important.”
The Department of Public Instruction has earmarked $500,000 in federal COVID-19 recovery aid for the Be Legendary School Board Leadership Institute and ongoing school board coaching. Between one and three school boards may take the training at once, with the NDDPI paying half of the total cost, which ranges from $8,700 to $12,500. The school board’s expense share ranges from $4,350 for a single board to $2,583 per board if three participate.
Baesler served for nine years on the Mandan school board, including seven as its president, before she was first elected superintendent in 2012.
“Student outcomes don’t change until adult behaviors change,” Baesler said. “A successful school board focuses on doing what’s best for students instead of concentrating on adult problems. This leadership training will reinforce that message.”