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North Dakota Districts Can Have More Flexibility and Local Control



North Dakota school districts have a new opportunity to implement innovative learning programs with more local control and the flexibility to redesign their schools with a more student-centered focus.

The Innovation Education Program is among a growing number of ground-breaking proposals around the nation as more states consider how to empower schools to rebuild systems better suited to adapt to each child’s educational needs.

Last April, North Dakota created an Innovation Education Program with the passage of Senate Bill 2186.

District proposals must demonstrate that they will improve the delivery or administration of education, increase educational opportunities or improve the academic success of students. The proposals would then be reviewed by the state’s superintendent of public instruction.

“Our approach is to set the imaginations of educators free, and allow our students to truly engage in their learning. We need to do dramatic things to help our students become creative problem-solvers, collaborators, critical thinkers and communicators.”
 

Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota State Superintendent of Public Instruction

With input from teachers, families and others, the program allows districts to pursue different methods of teaching and learning, such as flexible hours, providing credit for service learning projects outside of the school and changes to the traditional school calendar. The guidelines explicitly recognize that proposals could look different from school to school and should be designed with local community needs in mind.

The applications wisely incorporate a one-year planning process prior to approval for full implementation. After the initial year of planning, the school may submit a comprehensive Innovative Education Implementation Application, which may be approved for a period of up to five years.

“We are very excited about the momentum building in North Dakota to develop innovative education models.  The key components of flexibility and control in the Innovation Education Program are exactly the top issues we see across the country that need to be addressed.  ExcelinEd is excited to help the Superintendent and department through implementation.”
 

Karla Phillips, ExcelinEd Policy Director of Personalized Learning

For more information on the power of local flexibility and innovation, please visit our policy library.