Improving Quality of Life

Quality of life can be improved when all North Dakota students graduate from high school college- and career-ready.

High-quality education is essential to prepare students for an increasingly competitive, complex, and global economy. Quality education is a multifaceted concept which includes quality learners (healthy, well-nourished children with positive early life experiences and interactions who live in supportive families and communities); quality environments (healthy and safe environments that provide adequate resources and facilities); quality educational content (relevant curricula and materials for the acquisition of basic skills, especially in the areas of literacy and numeracy); quality processes (meaningful learning experiences that facilitate learning and reduce disparities); quality outcomes (knowledge, skills and attitude outcomes linked to state and national goals for education and positive participation in society), and the interdependence among them. Academic achievement in reading and math represent key educational outcomes. It is important to monitor progress in narrowing the gaps and improving results of education. In addition to achievement indicators, high school graduation can be useful in predicting young adults’ preparation for higher education and/or the workforce.

What's happening

  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in 3rd grade English Language Arts/Literacy slightly increased from 46.9 percent in 2015 to 50.4 percent in 2016. The percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards in 8th grade Math slightly increased as well, from 34.7 percent in 2015 to 35.6 percent in 2016.
  • Racial and income gaps continue to exist in academic achievement in North Dakota. In 2016, 55.3 percent of White North Dakota 3rd graders met or exceeded the 3rd grade English Language Art (ELA) standards, compared to 39.1 percent of students of color (Asian, Black, or Hispanic).
  • There was a 24.0 percentage point gap between 3rd grade ELA achievement scores of moderate and high and low income students (59.0% and 35.0%, respectively).
  • In middle school, 40.6 percent White North Dakota 8th grade students met or exceeded Math standards compared to 21.4 percent of students of color (Asian, Black, and Hispanic) and 12.0 percent of American Indian students in 2016. The percentage of 8th grade students achieving Math standards who live in moderate and high income households was more than double the percentage of low income students achieving Math standards (43.6% and 18.6%, respectively).
  • Overall, North Dakota graduated 6,588 students in the 2016-2017 school year, representing an on-time graduation rate of 87.0 percent. When looking at the breakdowns, gaps of on-time graduation rates exist. White students had a graduation rate of 90.5 percent, while Native American students had a rate of 67.3 percent. Among special populations, 66.1 percent of students with disabilities and 68.8 percent of students with limited English proficiency graduated on time.

Making connections

The Education topic presents only a part of the Cradle-to-Career continuum which is represented by key measures throughout the website.
Preschool enrollment (Early childhood)
Connections to adults (Children and Youth)
Postsecondary degree completion (Workforce)
Educational Attainment (Workforce)
Proportion of Adults Working (Workforce)
Building a pathway to success begins early in life, and must provide opportunities for all children and youth. Quality educational experiences and opportunities (e.g., mother and babies’ health, preschool enrollment, connection to caring adults) produce positive outcomes that compound throughout an individual’s life as they enter into the workforce and start contributing to the economy and community.
After high school, many young adults continue on with their education and achieve a postsecondary degree, which is one key to a vibrant and successful workforce.
Having well-educated residents in our state helps to strengthen the economy and workforce and increases civic engagement.


Kelly Sassi & Denise Lajimodiere: Turtle Mountain Teen Art and Writing Workshop: Enacting Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Pedagogy in a Summer Program for Native American Youth

"The workshop is sponsored by the Red River Valley Writing Project at North Dakota State University (NDSU), the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, and Turtle Mountain Community Schools. The goal of the workshop is to provide opportunities for teens to express their creativity while developing skills in writing, art, and technology. Development of a personal voice and vision is a priority of the organizers. This workshop is unique in that it draws primarily from a pool of talented Native American artists and writers who both share their craft and serve as inspirational role models for young people."

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North Dakota Compass

Center for Social Research
North Dakota State University

Compass created by:
Wilder Research

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