A new curriculum tailored to students’ skills and interests in and outside the classroom is in the works in North Dakota.

These changes come from Senate Bill 2196, which was passed last year.

For example, it will be an easy way to gain credit for something as simple as a community service project if it involves science and relates to the student’s career path.

North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler sat down with us virtually to discuss the new approach to education.

“North Dakota will become the very first state in the nation to have a graduation path that will authorize the graduation pathway to receive the North Dakota diploma based on mastery of skills and content knowledge versus a high school diploma,” explained Baesler.

State educational experts are still planning and designing the ways for this new curriculum.

“We convened the academic content experts over the summer, we convened them again this fall and put it out for public comment. We shared it with a committee, an advisory committee called the K-12 coordination counseling, and they gave us some insight,” Baesler said.

Participating school districts across the state will apply what is called a Learning Continuum.

“It identifies what students should know and be able to do at each stage of their educational journey; elementary, middle, and high school,” Baesler said.

Baesler said a plus is how the new curriculum allows for transcript credits to be easily applied.

“If you were engaged in an Eagle Scout project, and you can demonstrate to your math teacher or your English teacher that you have mastered the competencies at 10th-grade English through this Eagle Scout project or the 4H project, our schools will now be able to let our students earn credits,” Baesler said.

Wilton Public School District Superintendent Andrew Jordan is on board with the new changes and is excited about ​how it will benefit his students.

“We came up with five competencies we want our students to graduate with and those are responsibility, perseverance, collaboration, critical thinking, and digital literacy,” Jordan said.

Students will have a career catalog ​to help them understand how their skills and interests can translate into a specific career.

“If we can get our kids at an early age when they’re freshmen and sophomores to do job internships, they can really understand and choose that job at an early age and if it’s not for them then they still have time to pick another path,” Jordan said.

Jordan said the district will do its best to tailor that curriculum to each respective student’s career pick.

“If a kid has a passion for welding, then we will go out and search for somebody that would be willing to offer an internship or a job shadow for that,” Jordan said.

Opportunities will not only be offered in the school district but also in the field or online as an option.

Jordan tells KX that the first class to graduate under this new curriculum will be 2023.