DeVos Approves Every Student Succeeds Act

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Sept. 1 the approval of North Dakota’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

“North Dakota’s plan meets the law’s requirements, so I am glad to announce its approval,” Secretary DeVos said. “I want to thank Superintendent Baesler, Governor Burgum and all other stakeholders who helped craft a plan to improve education for North Dakota students.”

The act’s vision is to make sure, “all students will graduate choice ready with the knowledge, skills and disposition to be successful in whatever they choose to do, whether they pursue a post-secondary degree, enroll in a technical college, enter the workforce or join the military,” according to the final draft of ESSA, which was submitted by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler.

In other words, the choice ready system prepares high school students for whichever fork in life’s road they decide to follow after receiving their diploma by providing guidance and accountability.

ESSA has set standards students should meet regardless of which choice ready system they choose to follow. Other standards are unique to each program.

For instance, all programs require the student to receive a diploma or GED, a minimum ACT, SAT, CLEM/CREAM Pearson or State Assessment score in English and math and at least two additional skills that focus on community evolvement and accountability. However, the college ready program has a suggested minimum GPA of 2.8 whereas the military ready program does not mention GPA at all, but requires the student to be deemed physically fit by a physical education instructor.

ESSA contains five priority areas to help students reach these standards and include supporting teachers and leaders, engaging in continuous improvement, ensuring equity, promoting local educational opportunities and investing in early childhood education. “This plan reflects what’s best for the students in North Dakota,” Baesler said. “We are excited to implement an accountability system that was written with supports and interventions to best meet the needs of students in our state to improve academic achievement for all students over time.”

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction submitted the plan May 1, 2017.

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