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Succeed 2020 initiative marks its impact on North Dakota's education and workforce

November 29, 2017

The five-year Succeed 2020 initiative was designed to make college and career readiness a reality in North Dakota by pairing professional learning for educators with career exploration for students. The initiative, funded by the Hess Corporation and managed by FHI 360, convened education leaders, legislators and business representatives in Bismarck, North Dakota, in October 2017, to showcase the accomplishments from 2012 to 2017.

Data show the initiative made a significant impact.

  • student using calculatorThe number of students qualifying for the state’s scholarship increased by nine percentage points, from 15 percent to 24 percent.
  • The on-time high school graduation rate increased by one percentage point, from 86 percent to 87 percent. North Dakota’s on-time graduation rate is now well above the national average of 82 percent.

Presentations by North Dakota’s regional education associations (REAs), the project’s primary implementers, highlighted a significant change from providing services based only on a school’s professional development requests to a more comprehensive approach that draws on new or more accessible data. As a result, educators gained more in-depth professional development. Ninety-four percent of educators reported that they had changed their classroom practices and 94 percent reported more student engagement.

REAs and educators attributed some of these improvements to technical support provided by FHI 360, including greater emphasis on strategic planning and the generation of data and evidence. FHI 360 guided the REAS through strategic planning processes to reassess the services provided, how they selected services and the real impact and cost of those services. Through a series of sessions focused on data, the REAs learned to consider the “big numbers” — ACT test scores, on-time graduation rates and proficiency scores at key grade levels — and how to use data to identify needs, set baselines and measure change.

Another important aspect of Succeed 2020 was providing students with ways to gain greater exposure to potential careers and create connections to the world of work. The REAs, with assistance from FHI 360, reached out to new business and community partners and engaged local employers in work-based learning activities. During the 2016-2017 school year alone, REAs worked with about 350 businesses to offer students opportunities such as career expos, job shadows and internships. The REAs also delivered workshops to increase students’ knowledge of how to prepare for college and careers.

Succeed 2020’s emphasis on college and career readiness has laid the groundwork for future success for North Dakota’s students, teachers and school administrators. With strengthened REAs now implementing solutions, the initiative’s important work will continue.

To learn more about the initiative and its impact, read the accomplishments report.

Photo credit: Ron Rouse/FHI 360