North Dakota

Academic Achievement

Relative to other states, student performance in North Dakota is above average. Fourth and 8th graders stand 6 and 7 percentage points above the national average in the percentage at or above the proficient level on the NAEP math exam, respectively. The national average is 42% for 4th graders and 34% for 8th graders.

Academic Achievement for Low-Income and Minority Students

North Dakota earns a very high grade on academic achievement for low-income and minority students. Twenty-nine percent of Hispanic 4th graders score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP reading exam. Because the state does not have a large enough Hispanic student population to meet NAEP sampling requirements for 8th graders, North Dakota’s grade is based on low-income and African-American students for 8th grade.

Return on Investment

Student achievement in North Dakota is below average relative to state spending after controlling for cost of living. 

Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency

North Dakota posts mediocre marks on the credibility of its student proficiency scores. The grade is based on the difference between the percentage of students identified as proficient in reading and math on the 2011 state exams and the percentage identified as proficient on the 2011 NAEP reading and math tests.

Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

North Dakota earns an excellent grade preparing its students for college and careers. Students have a very strong chance for college attendance by age 19 compared with the national average and 91% of students graduate from high school.

21st Century Teacher Force

North Dakota does a weak job of creating a strong teacher workforce. The state struggles with expanding the pool of teachers.

Parental Options

North Dakota does a very poor job providing parents with strong school choice options. The state is one of only eight in the country with no charter school laws, and it has very minimal school choice options.

Data Quality

North Dakota earns a good grade collecting and reporting high-quality education data. The state is strong at linking K–12 and higher education data.


North Dakota receives a failing grade employing technology to provide quality instruction and personalized learning. Students have very limited access to high-quality digital learning options.

International Competitiveness

North Dakota earns an above average grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy. While 37% of students are proficient in reading and math compared with an international standard, only 4 students of 10,000 pass an AP foreign language exam. 

Fiscal Responsibility

North Dakota receives very low marks on fiscal responsibility, with 63% of the state’s pension funded. Its last contribution was only 53%.