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Public education in North Dakota

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K-12 Education in North Dakota
State Superintendent: Kirsten Baesler
Number of students: 97,646[1]
Number of teachers: 8,525
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:11.5
Number of school districts: 223
Number of schools: 513
Graduation rate: 87%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $11,420[3]
See also
Public education in North Dakota
North Dakota Department of Education
North Dakota school districts
List of school districts in North Dakota
North Dakota
The North Dakota public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents. North Dakota has 250 school districts.

The North Dakota state constitution requires that the state legislature establish and maintain "a system of public schools which shall be open to all children of the state of North Dakota and free from sectarian control."[4]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: North Dakota state budget
North Dakota's education costs are 18% of the state budget

The current 2009-2011 biennium budget totals $8.85 billion. Of the statewide budget, education totals an estimated $1.62 billion or 18.3%.[5] Unlike other states North Dakota didn't face a budget deficit for the 2007-2009 and 2009-2011 bienniums. Gov. John Hoeven's budget recommendation for the 2009-2011 biennium included no tax increases, no fee increases and no borrowing or bonding. However, he did recommend $400 million in tax relief. In total, the general fund budget recommendation was $3.111 billion and the entire budget recommendation, including federal and special funds, was $7.710 billion. The 2009 Legislative Assembly increased the governor’s total budget by $1.139 billion or 14.8 percent.[6]

The cost per pupil is $9,675, ranking 26th in the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[7]

Personnel salaries

In the 2008-2009 school year the North Dakota school system the number of teachers increased to 7,295, as compared to the previous year. The average teacher salary also increased from $39,753 in 2007-2008 to $41,044 in 2008-2009.[8][9]

School year Min. base teacher salary Avg. teacher salary Max base teacher salary Total number of teachers
2007-2008[8] $5,574 $39,753 $67,332 7,189
2008-2009[9] $5,135 $41,044.06 $68,518 7,295

Role of unions

The main union related to the North Dakota school system is the North Dakota Education Association (NDEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). For the 2003 tax period NDEA had: $2.22 million in total revenue, $2.22 million in total expenses and $2.42 million in total assets.[10]

List of local North Dakota school unions:[11]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education is an independent educator licensing board. All board members are appointed by the governor. Board members can serve a maximum of two three-year terms. The board is responsible for teacher licensure, teacher program approval, professional development, and monitoring professional practices.[12]

According to the state, the state board of education became an independent board in 1995. This means the board does not receive state dollars. The board's financial revenues are comprised of licensure fees of the educators in North Dakota. North Dakota is one of 22 states that has an independent board.[13]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: North Dakota government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the North Dakota School Boards Association. Another statewide association is the North Dakota Retired Teachers Association.


North Dakota currently has no statewide, official spending database online, although in May 2009, legislation (Senate Bill 2018) passed that mandates a website be created by June 30, 2011.[14]

On March 3, 2009, Joshua Culling, State Government Affairs Manager for Coalition member the National Taxpayers Union, issued a letter to support transparency in North Dakota. Rep. Blair Thoreson's transparency legislation, House Bill 1377, mandated that the Director of the Budget create a searchable online database of state expenditures by January 1, 2010. This bill passed the ND House in the spring of 2009, but did not move past the Senate. The bill that the governor signed in May 2009, North Dakota Senate Bill 2018, requires that a website be created by June 30, 2011.[14]

Academic performance

The chart below details the percentage of students that scored either proficiently in reading and mathematics on the state assessment exam Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) exam. AYP is used by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program to determine the academic performance of schools. In the 2008-2009 school year the state school system did not meet AYP requirements. The graduation rate was 73.09%, the actual rate was 86.90%.[15]

Year Reading Goal (%) Reading (%) Mathematics Goal (%) Mathematics (%)
2005-2006[16] 67.08% 74.21% 50.44% 67.66%
2006-2007[17] 67.10% 77.52% 50.45% 75.47%
2007-2008[18] 78.07% 75.13% 67.02% 75.27%
2008-2009[15] 78.07% 77.22% 67.03% 77.33%

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[19] 2011 Education Spending[20] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[21] 2012 Education Spending[22] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[23] 2011 Avg. ACT score[24] 2012 Avg. ACT score[25] 2010 Graduation Rate[26] 2011 Graduation Rate[27]
North Dakota $6.5 billion $2.0 billion 30.7% $7.1 billion $2.3 billion 32.3% 21.5 20.7 20.7 83.1% 83.8%

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: as of the 2009-2010 school year the state of North Dakota has not enacted legislation to establish or operate charter schools.[28]
  • Public school open enrollment: the state of North Dakota has one main open enrollment policy: inter-district. In other words, students are permitted to enroll in any school outside their neighborhood school district. However, the board of a student's district of residence may deny an application if it will result in a reduction in the number of students enrolled in the district. Specifically if the reduction results in more than 20% of the daily members of the prior year.[29]
  • Online learning: the state of North Dakota has a state-led program provided through the North Dakota Center for Distance Education. The program offers courses to middle and high school students. In the 2007-2008 school year, according to reports, the program had approximately 9,000 registrations.[30]

External links


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. North Dakota Constitution,"Article VIII, Section 1," accessed April 21, 2010
  5. North Dakota Legislative Council,"Budget Status Report, Appropriations by Department," June 3, 2009
  6. "f North Dakota Office of Management and Budget, Fiscal Division, "Legislative Appropriations 2009-2011 Biennium," August 12, 2009
  7. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  8. 8.0 8.1 North Dakota Department of Education,"2007-2008 Full-time Teacher Compensation," accessed April 21, 2010
  9. 9.0 9.1 North Dakota Department of Education,"2008-2009 Full-time Teacher compensation," accessed April 21, 2010
  10. Center for Union Facts,"North Dakota Education Association," accessed April 20, 2010
  11. Center for Union Facts,"North Dakota teachers unions," accessed April 20, 2010
  12. North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board,"Main Page," accessed April 21, 2010
  13. North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board,"About North Dakota ESPB," accessed April 21, 2010
  14. 14.0 14.1 North Dakota Policy Council, "State to post expenditures online," May 10, 2009
  15. 15.0 15.1 North Dakota Department of Education,"2008-2009 Annual Adequate Yearly Progress Report," May 27, 2009
  16. North Dakota Department of Education,"2005-2006 Annual Adequate Yearly Progress Report," September 16, 2006
  17. North Dakota Department of Education,"2006-2007 Annual Adequate Yearly Progress Report," July 26, 2007
  18. North Dakota Department of Education,"2007-2008 Annual Adequate Yearly Progress Report," June 9, 2008
  19. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  20. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  21. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  22. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  23. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  24. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  25. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  26. National Center for Education Statistics
  27. National Center for Education Statistics
  28. North Dakota Department of Education,"North Dakota Charter School Profile 2009-10," accessed April 21, 2010
  29. Education Commission of the States,"Open Enrollment: 50-State Report," accessed April 21, 2010
  30. The Heritage Foundation,"School Choice in North Dakota," accessed April 21, 2010