Community-Driven Education Innovation Expands in Rural North Dakota

Passionate about creating more equitable and extraordinary learning in the nation’s schools, Transcend is renewing its efforts in rural America to support community-driven education innovation.

With support from All Points North Foundation, Transcend will deepen its design work and pilot new middle school student experiences with Northern Cass, one of its inaugural rural school partners. The North Dakota school district is growing a reputation for its strategies on innovative competency-based learning and mentors other school districts in personalized learning.

Northern Cass will pilot its signature experience, Studio, applying core academic skills to real world challenges. Learners participating in Studios are activated around competencies like agency, self-direction, compassion, creativity, collaboration, and problem solving. Educators are trained to develop strong adult learning plans that teach with a competency-based lens that honors the importance of personalized learning.

Rooted in a belief that education innovation should be community driven, Transcend and Northern Cass conducted dozens of interviews and focus groups with students, families, teachers and school administrators and leaders. The education innovation approaches had broad community support but students wanted even more relevant and rigorous learning environments and active self-direction. Studios speaks to their needs and combines connection to the local community with core academic concepts that students are challenged to apply in creative and diverse ways.

A positive, measurable impact of the Studio pilots will help map out a strategic plan for scaling education innovation across additional districts in North Dakota for teacher growth and so that more students experience self-direction and relevance to their lives beyond the classroom.

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