Mandan News

Determining how to better educate children

District 31 Update
By Senator Don Schaible

In our last Education Funding Committee Meeting, we had the pleasure of meeting with the Higher Education Funding Committee, with the hope of discussing problems that are a common concern to the K-12 and higher education level. One of the studies that we look at was the effects of remedial course in math and English at our colleges and the results of the students in these courses compared to the rest of the student body. Remedial courses are courses that that are offered to get students up to the level of college readiness in that subject. The placements of these courses are usually determined by an individuals ACT sub scores.

These courses are designed to get students prepared for the level of college courses they need to take for the degree that they are looking to graduate with. The data we have for the last five years shows that students with remedial courses have only a 55% chance of completion, compared to 80% completion of the rest of the students in these subjects. The data also shows a correlation between Grade Point Average and the need for remedial class.

There is no difference in students with GPA of 2.4 or less with students that have remedial needs and those that don’t. Students with GPA of 2.5 and higher, the ones that need some help with remedial classes, have a consistent 15 to 20% less chance of graduating on time than the ones that don’t need remedial classes. The really scary statistic is that students without remedial education needs only have a 45% chance of graduation on time, compared to 35% with the remedial needs. There have been some encouraging results in placing remedial students into regular classes but also providing tutors and study groups. It looks like the best solution is to get students college ready before they complete high school.

We then turned our attention to the discussion on how our colleges are preparing our teachers for the challenges of educating our children. Mayville State University, Valley City State University, NDSU and UND all had a chance to explain their teacher education programs. Each school gave information on the number of students specializing in education, the entry requirements and the number of on time graduates. It was refreshing to learn that around 90% of our teachers graduate on time from college.

Each school was hit with a barrage of questions, most pertaining to raising the quality of education in our K-12 systems. They were questioned on how our students would be prepared for the challenges of the job force that require more collaborative work environmental with more individual problem solving skills. Questions on how Common Core was being prepared for and how our new teachers are going to increase or adapted to these higher standards were also brought up.

We also asked if our teachers are staying in the profession and if our institutes of higher education are getting feedback from our K-12 school on the satisfaction of the teachers they are hiring. Most of the answerers were on the premise that is what they are working on and striving to do. We don’t regulate the curriculum of higher education, but I feel we need get some assurance or at least see improvements with the amount of remedial needs and with on time graduation rates before we continue to increase funding for our institutions.

One very bright spot for our educational programs was the resident teacher preparation program that allows for teachers to earn a master degree while teaching at a local elementary school. This program has produced some very good results and the teachers from this program are getting very good praise and are highly sought after for employment.

We also reviewed the preparation for our administrators. Currently, in North Dakota, a superintendent must hold a valid N.D. teacher license. Maintenance of teacher license requires mandatory six credits of Professional Development every five years, must have three years teaching experience with verified letter by supervisor, two years administration experience comprised of at least half time as either an elementary or secondary principal and have eight additional credits hours past masters with specific coursework.

Most of the states around us have a higher standard and currently DPI is working on research to update administrative credentialing standards. By doing so includes remaining aware of the need for high-level preparation with our current struggle to find qualified applicants in N.D. in some areas.

Our committee does not have any bill drafts to change any of these areas yet, but the discussion will continue. Full copies of these reports are on the web site and can be viewed by looking at the minutes of this or any committee meeting that we have.