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Key Findings from the First Five Years
of Personalized, Competency-Based Learning in North Dakota

June 20, 2024

Over five years of implementing personalized, competency-based learning, school districts in North Dakota have seen measurable changes in their districts, schools and classrooms.

The state started on the initiative because they saw room for improvement in their education systems. Gallup polls reported that 89% of North Dakotans rated their K-12 public schools as “excellent” or “good,” the highest satisfaction rate in the country.  

“How can we really be at our finest when 10 percent of our population isn’t reaching their full potential?” questioned Kirsten Baesler, state superintendent of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI).

NDDPI partnered with KnowledgeWorks in 2018 to launch the North Dakota Personalized, Competency-Based Learning initiative, which aims to create equitable outcomes for learners by transforming conventional education systems to personalized, competency-based learning. KnowledgeWorks engaged WestEd to study the initiative’s progress and outcomes the following year.

WestEd recently published “The North Dakota Personalized, Competency-Based Learning Initiative: Progress and Outcomes After Five Years,” which we summarize here. Although implementing personalized, competency-based learning varies from site to site and is still a work in progress, we are learning what changes are reasonable to expect within a five-year horizon and what those changes mean for student achievement. 

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