Make your voice heard on student learning

Dale Wetzel
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

BISMARCK -- State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler is asking North Dakotans for their opinions about the skills students should learn as they move through the state public education system, as part of the work of establishing a state “learning continuum.”

Earlier this year, the North Dakota Legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill that requires the Department of Public Instruction to draft the “learning continuum.” It identifies skills that are crucial for a well-rounded high school graduate to have, and at what educational stages they should be mastered.

The continuum is part of the process of focusing K-12 education on personalized learning that is based on competency – whether a student has mastered certain content – rather than the amount of “seat time” a student spends in a class about the content. Once a student is proficient, he or she can move on to another task, rather than stay in a classroom to hear information he or she already knows.

Last summer, educators from across North Dakota collaborated in writing competency benchmarks for English/Language Arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and intellectual and emotional skills, such as the ability to think critically, communicate, and work well with others. Baesler said public comment is welcome about the draft continuum document.

These benchmarks include:

  • English/Language Arts: Critical Reading, Organizing and Expressing Ideas in Writing, Inquiry and Research
  • Mathematics: Problem Solving, Connections, Reasoning and Proof
  • Social Studies: Engaged Citizenship, Historical Perspectives and Change, Global Connections, Culture
  • Science: Evaluation through Evidence, Analyzing and Interpreting, Modeling, Experimentation/Investigation
  • 21st Century Skills/Portrait of a Graduate: Critical Thinking, Empathy, Perseverance, Communication, Collaboration, Adaptability, and Learners’ Mindset

The 2021 Legislature, by approving Senate Bill 2196, ordered the drafting of the North Dakota Learning Continuum. It is designed to foster continued innovation among North Dakota educators in bringing about personalized, competency-based learning in schools, with students receiving individualized instruction.

North Dakotans who are interested in reviewing this information can find it on the website of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.  Visitors may use a special survey to leave comments. The North Dakota Learning Continuum writing committee will consider these later in making changes to the document.

For more information about the North Dakota Learning Continuum or this process, please contact Ann Ellefson, NDDPI director of academic support, at dpiacademicsupp@nd.gov.