Education | Prairie Public Broadcasting


Bismarck middle school wins DPI Innovation Award

Apr 12, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A science class at Simle Middle School in Bismarck is the first winner of the Department of Public Instruction’s Innovation Award.

The eighth grade class is taught by Ryan Townsend. The class has been working on creating a solar-powered mobile phone charging station. It would be specifically designed for homeless people, and would be placed in a city park.

Education groups tout "innovation bill"

Feb 17, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Lawmakers are considering a bill allowing school districts to adopt new and innovative teaching techniques.

It has unanimously passed the Senate – and now awaits House approval. It would require school districts to develop plans with teacher and public input, and submit their ideas to the Department of Public Instruction for approval.

Courtesy ND Legislature

A Bismarck lawmaker has introduced a bill allowing parents to set up “educational savings accounts.”

"It is a bill that could be described as 'The Money Follows the Child," said Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck).

Parents would have to opt out of sending their children to public school. Becker said it’s a school choice bill – that allows parents to save money – tax free -- to send their children to private schools. He said not only does it help families, it will inspire public schools to improve.

Courtesy ND Legislature

Measure two on the November ballot deals with the foundation aid stabilization fund.

That fund is used to make up for any budget allotments to elementary and secondary education ordered by the Governor. Only the Governor can dip into it, and only after an allotment.

In the past year, it has been used twice.

The measure would allow the Legislature to access it – for educational purposes. Opponents said because the measure does not specifically spell out K-12 education, the money could be used for such things as higher education.

Courtesy ND United

Two North Dakota education groups say they are supporting a measure on the ballot that would allow the state Legislature to access money that has been put in the foundation aid stabilization fund.

The fund cannot be accessed until a Governor orders a budget allotment. That fund is then used to make K-12 education whole.

"It is a trapped asset," said ND United president Nick Archuleta. His group -- along with the ND Council of Educational Leaders -- say the measure should pass.

DPI, Higher Ed talking about reducing remedial classes

Sep 27, 2016

K-12 education is working with the state’s colleges and universities to reduce the number of remedial classes college freshmen have to take.

The Department of Public Instruction says the effort has been dubbed “Choice Ready.”

"A piece of that is helping our students make the right choice for themselves," said state school superintendent Kirsten Baesler. She said the goal is to get students on the right path for life after high school.

When other state agencies were forced to cut spending when Governor Dalrymple ordered an allotment, funding for K-12 education was spared.

That’s because of a Constitutional fund called the “foundation aid stabilization fund.”

It was passed in the 1993 Legislative Session, and was approved by voters in 1994.

Former State Senator James Yockim (D-Williston) was one of the sponsors. He said it had been tried twice before that, but was rejected each time. Yockim said the third time was the charm.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Groups of North Dakota teachers are working on new draft standards for math and English.

It’s the first step in a process to improve and update those standards, which were adopted six years ago. The two groups met in Bismarck to finish those first drafts.

State school superintendent Kirsten Baesler said when she first announced the rewrite, some teachers had concerns.

"There was an immediate, 'Oh, my gosh -- what does this mean?'" Baesler said. "'We just invested six years of our lesson planning, of our instructional strategies behind these standards.'"

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A representative of the National Conference of State Legislatures says although the new “Every Student Succeeds Act” is a lot more flexible than the “No Child Left Behind” program, there are still some requirements local schools will have to meet.

And the federal affairs counsel of the NCSL said state legislators will have to be involved, as the federal rules are written.

Lee Posey told the Legislature’s Interim Education Committee, Congress kept the concept of statewide assessments first outlined by No Child Left Behind.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Congress has overwhelmingly passed a law that re-authorizes and changes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Gone is No Child Left Behind – replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

"It finally returns a great deal of authority to the states and local communities, to make decisions on how best to educate our children," said state School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler.

North Dakota education leaders say it also ends the sole reliance on standardized testing to determine how students – and schools – are doing.