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Grand Forks Public Schools receives $250K math education grant

Department of Public Instruction grant seeks to boost proficiency rates for grades 3-8

Grand Forks Public Schools
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GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks Public Schools has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, designed to boost math proficiency rates for students in grades third through eighth.

The grant, titled “Greater Math in North Dakota”, is designed to help educators address “learning gaps” in math knowledge, defined by the DPI as math skills a student does not have, but is expected to have based on grade level standards.

State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said the grant, which is funded by the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, is part of a statewide effort to boost math proficiency. Eight school districts in North Dakota will be receiving a combined $825,000 according to Baesler.

Kirsten Baesler
Kirsten Baesler

“We are excited to be awarding this grant to Grand Forks schools,” said Baesler. “The grants we are awarding across the state are focused on middle schools, and their efforts to help students master concepts they may have struggled with in elementary school.”

Baesler said the DPI awarded Grand Forks schools the grant due to its declining math proficiency at the secondary level.

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“Math proficiency at Grand Forks schools has been declining at the middle school level, and remaining stable, one might say stagnant, at the elementary level,” said Baesler. “We are hoping this grant will provide the necessary support to place math instruction expertise at a more uniform level across the district. I think this grant is particularly important for Grand Forks schools, because 11 of its 21 math teachers at the secondary level are new, so we want them to participate in professional development activities funded by the grant that we hope will improve student outcomes.”

Baesler said a major component of the grant affords Grand Forks schools the opportunity to test different curriculum materials, as well as employ a hybrid model of learning.

“Greater Math in North Dakota is serving a dual purpose,” said Baesler. “Firstly, helping our teachers develop better strategies for student success. Secondly, is holding providers of curriculum materials such as textbooks accountable for student outcomes. We will vet curriculum materials at the state levels, and give our grant recipients the option to choose what best suits their needs. We also want to meet our students where they are most comfortable, whether that is in a physical classroom setting, or receiving individualized instruction online.”

Terry Brenner, superintendent of Grand Forks Public Schools, expressed his enthusiasm toward receiving the grant.

“We are thrilled to receive a quarter million dollars to support and augment math instruction,” said Brenner. “This initiative will address learning loss due to the pandemic, and help us target subgroups of students who have been struggling the most with proficiency for improvement.”

Terry Brenner. Herald file photo
Terry Brenner. Herald file photo

Grand Forks schools will kick off the grant’s work with a consultation from the DPI in January, where DPI officials will outline the program’s expectations. Following this consultation are three required educator training sessions in March, April and May.

Banish covers news pertaining to K-12 and higher education, as well as county commission coverage.
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