The U.S. Department of Education has conditionally cleared the way for North Dakota’s school districts to gain more control over student assessments. After much contention, Superintendent Baesler was successful in securing authorization for several districts to administer the locally selected, nationally recognized ACT college entrance exam to students in grade 10 in lieu of the North Dakota State Assessment. What does this mean for our students, parents and school districts? More local control and the potential for one less standardized test.
This change required approval from the U.S. Department of Education. On Jan. 29, a department assistant secretary denied North Dakota’s request, saying the state had not demonstrated that using the ACT would produce accountability results similar to the North Dakota State Assessment.
Baesler vigorously disputed the department’s conclusions. As part of her efforts to challenge this conclusion, she enlisted the help of North Dakota’s congressional delegation and the chairs of the U.S. Senate and House education committees, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.
For years Kirsten has remained committed to ensuring that the Federal Government does not intrude on North Dakota’s responsibility to educate its students. “I am grateful that after some encouragement and much discussion this administration has embraced our state’s right to make decisions locally,” shared Baesler. “It is my hope that we may continue this spirit of cooperation in taking advantage of the flexibility granted by the Every Student Succeeds Act.”
Prior to exercising the ACT high school assessment option for accountability, districts must have notified all stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers, and school board members; made stakeholders aware that the ACT will be used in place of the State Assessment; shared any effect of this option on the instructional program in the district; and provided an opportunity for stakeholder input.
More information can be found on the Department’s website.