Accreditation team evaluates Killdeer Public School

The Killdeer Public School took a test this week for AdvancEd, which will determine whether the school will be accredited with the Department of Public Instruction.


Every school in North Dakota is required to be accredited. The state is using AdvancEd to review and evaluate each school and make recommendations for accreditation. The AdvancEd team was scheduled to provide a preliminary exit report on Wednesday and a final report in the next three weeks

Schools are accredited every five years, and the AdvancEd team visits each school during that span to evaluate the progress.

The Killdeer AdvancEd Committee has been working since June of 2016 on a plan for school improvement. The committee identified two school improvement goals for the accreditation process. The goals are: All students at Killdeer Public School will become proficient writers; and All teachers will use test data in order to guide classroom instruction.

According to Amy Axtman, the school improvement team leader, the Step Up to Writing curriculum as implemented to support the writing goal. Professional development has been scheduled to help teachers apply this curriculum in their classroom and administrators are observing classroom writing activities.

To support the data goal, Axtman said, they designed a data binder that includes testing schedules, expectations, testing data and resources. School officials compare test scores to the average scores in North Dakota and across the nation and help students understand their test scores and set goals for becoming successful learners.

In addition to Axtman, the committee is made up of Superintendent Gary Wilz, Principals Carol Dietz and Karter Kleeman, and teachers Denice Sayler, Chris Larsen, Julee Gartner, Janis Harris, Nancy Hart and Courtney Vettel.

It was the committee’s job to complete a self-evaluation, conduct surveys of parents, staff and students; review and analyze test data, identify improvement goals, design and implement activities to reach those goals and prepare for the external review visit from AdvanceEd.

The AdvancEd team evaluated the school on five standards on a four-point system. The team reviewed: Mission Statement and goals set at the school; School board and administration and how they run the school; How teachers and students are engaged in learning; Programs available for students; and Set goals to help get a better school.

AdvancEd is the largest community of education professionals in the world and conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of Pre-K schools and school systems to ensure that all learners realize their full potential, according to its web site. 

It combines the knowledge and expertise of a research institute, the skills of a management consulting firm and the passion of a grassroots movement for education change, it serves as a partner to 34,000 schools and school systems across the United States and 70 other nations.

Its process aligns accreditation with accountability, emphasizing learner outcomes when evaluating institutional quality. AdvancEd Performance Accreditation requires that schools meet the AdvancEd Standards and accreditation policies, demonstrate quality assurance through internal and external review and engage in continuous improvement, according to its web site.

“It’s always good to sit back and take a good look at yourself, see where you’re going and where you’ve been,” said Axtman. “We are very confident we will be accredited. “It’s another set of eyes to come in and give us some additional ideas.”

The AdvancEd team was made up of Mary Koopman, a retired principal from Grand Forks, Belfield third-grade teacher Ella-Jo Corneil, New Town High School Principal John Gortner, LaNae Kristy, librarian from Hettinger, and Denise Soehren of the Roughrider Education Services Program in Dickinson.

The team arrived in Killdeer on Feb. 27 and interviewed students, teachers, administrators, school board members and the community and made classroom observations on Feb. 28. The team did follow-up interviews and final work sessions and team meetings and provided an exit report to staff and stakeholders.

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