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North Dakota governor signs bill to expand learning outside classroom

“A student’s ability to learn is not completely dependent upon how much time he or she spends sitting in a classroom,” state K-12 Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said.

HB 1052 bill signing photo.jpg
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signs a bill as Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford looks on March 8, 2021, at the Capitol in Bismarck. Special to The Forum
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BISMARCK — Gov. Doug Burgum has signed an education bill into law that allows North Dakota school districts to give students more control in how they learn while meeting state education standards.

Burgum signed Senate Bill 2196 on Monday, March 22, after both the North Dakota House and Senate voted in favor of the bill, with large majorities.

The bill allows school districts to give students more flexibility by reducing the required number of hours a student needs to be in a classroom. This flexibility lets students pursue community volunteer projects, internships and other educational options that count toward requirements for graduation.

Proponents of the bill said it will help school districts "address each students' learning styles and personal strengths."

“A student’s ability to learn is not completely dependent upon how much time he or she spends sitting in a classroom,” state K-12 Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said in a statement. “This bill offers flexibility to our students to achieve other academic goals and methods of learning after they’ve mastered a subject. It allows for more personalized education. And it does this while maintaining academic strength and accountability."

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In districts that adopt the personalized learning approach, students could receive credit for classes geared toward their interests and prepare for a career path, post-secondary education or the military.

"It creates great opportunity to continue to move further away from the industrialized 'I lecture, you learn' model of education," Sen. Erin Oban, D-Bismarck, said in support of the bill.

Readers can reach Forum News Service reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at mgriffith@forumcomm.com.

Michelle (she/her, English speaker) is a Bismarck-based journalist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and Report for America, a national service organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities.
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