In 2011-12 North Dakota schools had new standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics staring them in the face. These standards were developed to increase and enhance student learning to develop students into college and/or career ready individuals upon graduation. We needed to know if the leadership of our districts wanted to face this individually, or if they wanted the SEEC to stand by them, support them, and guide them through understanding and implementing the standards. Because we’ve always been a collaborative organization and our vision is to “enhance student learning by building relationships to make ALL members stronger,” they said let’s do this together. Wow! This was a big task for us… huge if we want to be frank about it. So the question remained, “HOW do we do this?”
Believe it or not… someone was looking out for us because, at approximately the same time, North Dakota received a $25 million dollar multi-year grant from the Hess Corporation with a very similar goal – to improve the education of the workforce of the future. Five years ago, we stood on the edge of the unknown. Perhaps a bit unsure, a little terrified…but certainly exhilarated by its potential to impact education in North Dakota.
The Succeed 2020 grant through the Hess Corporation and its work with FHI 360 pushed our organization and our staff to INNOVATE – to develop better solutions to meet new requirements, unarticulated and existing needs and create more effective programs, processes, and services for our schools. Cultivating existing and creating NEW partnerships with member schools, community organizations, higher ed, and state education organizations allowed for additional funding opportunities and for targeted programs to address specific needs in our schools.
Succeed 2020 allowed us the flexibility to take risks, grow and innovate; to provide a variety of professional learning opportunities and the consider options for expanding our reach by partnering with our seven sister Regional Education Associations (REAs) in North Dakota. Today, we can confidently say that we offer almost exclusively multi-day evidence-based professional learning and programs instead of one-day, one-stop trainings that weren’t being closely monitored and supported for intended impact. The success of our professional learning and programs led to expansion and scale up throughout the state for projects like Just in Time Math, Improving Academic Literacy, and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. In the Just in Time Math project alone, professional learning sessions were provided to 325 teachers, across 93 schools and 71 districts!
As we developed our data capacity, we cited some notable results:
- Just in Time Math data showed a significant increase in the average number of evidence-based practices teachers being used during instruction.
- Improving Academic Literacy Project allowed teachers to observe colleagues in multiple classrooms and districts as they participated in an average of 14 learning walks during the year!
- You’re Hired teachers engaged in more than 60 hours of professional learning focused on problem-based learning, 21st Century skills, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
We are seeing results at the student level too:
- A colleague in the Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) project stated that “the results we have seen in our students has been insane!” We are talking about an average growth of 1.4 grade levels in math and 1.46 grade levels in reading for kids who started the year significantly behind!
In addition, the grants overarching goals of obtaining higher ACT scores; on-time secondary and post-secondary completion; and reduced need for developmental/remedial courses have shown positive results that we hope to continue to see as we work to cultivate a stronger workforce for the future:
- Average ACT scores increased
- 48% of SEEC districts increased average ACT scores in ALL 4 major subjects
- SEEC districts demonstrated an increase in ACT composite score by an average of +.21
- Graduation rates increased from 87% to 89%, and
- The number of students receiving N.D. scholarships has increased throughout the life of this grant. The 2015-16 school year saw 108 more Academic Scholarships and 21 more Career and Technical Education (CTE) scholarships than what was received in the 2011-12 school year. This amounts to $774,000 additional dollars to students for furthering their education. These numbers only reflect students who obtained the scholarships, not the total number of students who qualify.
It’s difficult, nearly impossible, to be able to write down EVERYTHING that has happened over the past five years with the support, guidance, and technical assistance opportunities provided through the Succeed 2020 grant and FHI 360, but we’ll try to list some of the “biggies!”
- Developed and increased organizational capacity and strengthened our Infrastructure for Innovation.
- Ability to hire amazing content area experts in math, ELA and STEM, and communications and data.
- Developed a new strategic plan.
- Became AdvancED Accredited
- Developed Human Resource Policies and Processes
- Transitioned into our own entity and are now our own fiscal agent with accounting, payroll, and human resource staff.
- Transitioned onto our own IT network and active directory.
- Obtained additional funding sources through grants equaling nearly $1 million!
Although the grant closed on September 30, 2017 – our work is nowhere close to done! We will continue the great work that began before and during this grant. We know there will be obstacles to dodge, hurdles to jump, hills to climb, mountains to scale, and maybe even oceans to somehow cross, but we’re confident in knowing that we are stronger, prepared and more capable than we’ve ever been to overcome whatever is next.
Looking forward we believe we have created an “Infrastructure for Innovation” that will allow us to continuously improve and create long-range sustainability for our school districts and the children they serve in the SEEC region and beyond.
The Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction released a statement after the closing of the grant noting the amazing accomplishments of all eight REAs across the state. Click here to read the full article.
Take moment to watch the video below created by Ron Rouse Productions capturing SEEC professional learning and programs supported by Succeed 2020.
Below are infographics created for the Succeed 2020 showcase that was held in Bismarck on October 2, 2017, to highlight the impacts of SEEC programming affected by the Succeed 2020 grant dollars.
“In closing, we are forever thankful to the Hess Corporation for the vision of Succeed 2020 and the opportunities that it has afforded our schools and our organization; to the FHI360 Team for sharing your talents, expertise, time and friendship – you have left your mark and will always be a part of us; to the SEEC member schools and partners for the collaboration, trust and leadership; and to the amazing SEEC Staff -past and present- who have worked so hard.
Thank you for pushing and supporting and sharing in this journey. And finally, to all of the REA staff, DPI and other partners who made this all possible. It has been my honor to be a part of Succeed 2020 with you.” – Jennifer Glasheen, Director of Teaching & Learning Services