Education Week - May 17, 2017 - 21
application after she and other state
officials came to an impasse with the
federal Education Department over
setting student-achievement goals
for the lowest-performing schools.
Today, more than 180 schools in
150 school districts are categorized
as failing under the state's NCLBera accountability system, putting
added pressure on the state's 100
education agency employees and
stretching its resources.
Against that backdrop, ESSA, which
Obama signed into law in December
2015, was a huge relief to many educators here.
Through a series of colorful slide
shows at the two conferences earlier
this month, the state education department's staff gave an overview of
the biggest changes in the plan. The
state will follow up with webinars
and regional training by some of the
50 stakeholders-such as Native
American tribal leaders, curriculum
coaches and union officials-who
helped devise the plan.
"It really is a new dawn for teaching and learning in North Dakota,"
Baesler, a former teacher, principal,
and board member who last fall was
re-elected to the state's superintendent post, told educators in Mandan.
During a session on the proposed
new teacher-evaluation system,
administrators showed a series of
forms school administrators would
have to fill out
To some in the room, entering
more data into a system seemed like
yet another burden for already-overworked school officials.
"It continues to mushroom out of
control, and I really don't get what
it's being used for," said Nick Klemisch, the superintendent of the
Garrison schools, who said his district of 200 students has two administrators and one secretary.
But Anthony Esquibel, a principal
in the Parshall school district, which
sits on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and has about 280 students,
said he welcomed the opportunity to
give teachers more specific feedback.
"I think this is going to help guide
them in the right direction without
punishing them," he said.
Esquibel said many of his students
bring to school problems on the
home and family fronts that include
homelessness and alcoholism. He
said decisions would likely be better
made closer to the school, where he
knows his students' needs. His district is debating whether to adopt
the state's ESSA plan or the plan
the federal Bureau of Indian Education is expected to release this fall.
"I think I'll have more say under
this plan," he said referring to North
Levi Bachmeier, the education
adviser to Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, sat in on the stakeholderengagement process about the plan,
which Burgum endorsed. Bachmeier
told administrators at the conference he'd like to hear any concerns
they have about the changes.
"Now's your chance," Baesler stood
up and said.
The room fell silent.
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EDUCATION WEEK | May 17, 2017 | www.edweek.org | 21