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Policy Conditions in Action: Collaborative Leadership in North Dakota

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Topics: Education Policy

In our recent State Policy Framework for Personalized Learning, we share a framework that can help guide states in their work towards statewide transformation to ensure personalized learning opportunities for all students.

Personalized learning can be a powerful approach for ensuring readiness for postsecondary education and career and for addressing racial, economic, gender and geographic disparities. To implement personalized learning with fidelity, takes hard work and collaboration at every level of the system.

Personalized learning can be a powerful approach for ensuring readiness for postsecondary education and career and for addressing racial, economic, gender and geographic disparities. To implement personalized learning with fidelity takes hard work and collaboration at every level of the system.

Early adopter: spotlight on North Dakota

Within our framework, we outline a set of policy conditions states will need to tackle as they refine and transform their policy system to one that ensures all students in the state benefit from high-quality personalized learning experiences. We also highlight early adopter states to illustrate each policy condition. For the policy condition Collaborative Leadership, we shine a spotlight on North Dakota.

In 2017, North Dakota created an “innovative education program,” which allows schools and districts to apply to the State Superintendent for a waiver of certain state laws so they can advance programs that provide students more educational opportunities or improve their academic success. SB 2186, which passed with bipartisan support, emerged in part because North Dakota’s State Superintendent, Kirsten Baesler, deeply engaged with a variety of stakeholders to set a trajectory for education in the state.  These stakeholder groups included North Dakota administrators, educators, the newly elected governor, state legislators, the state teacher’s union and the state chamber of commerce. In addition, the Superintendent launched the Superintendent’s Student Cabinet in April 2015 to ensure student voices are heard.

In 2018, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction partnered with school districts and organizations to establish a statewide personalized, competency-based learning initiative. This initiative includes district design teams, comprised of a diverse cross section of five learning communities across the state. Educator fellows, chosen by district leaders, help transfer and implement the work of the full design team in their local districts and schools. The goal of the initiative is to build capacity at the local and state levels to scale personalized, competency-based learning over time.

Moving to personalized learning throughout your state is a big undertaking with even bigger rewards. Not sure which policy conditions to begin with? Take this short quiz to find out.