North Dakota Center for Distance Education
North Dakota’s Center for Distance Education (CDE) was created by North Dakota’s legislature in 1935 as a means of providing educational opportunity for all of North Dakota’s kids regardless of where they live. North Dakota’s rural landscape both then and now present formidable challenges to providing a uniform system of education across the state. The method has certainly changed, but the mission of CDE still rings true today. That is to provide virtual education to support North Dakota’s K-12 schools by offering all students access to extensive educational opportunities, allowing them to achieve their personal goals, and reach their full potential. CDE is innovative and quality-focused in its approach to educational delivery and its scope of services to foster the strength of North Dakota’s future.
As the only online/virtual school based in the state of North Dakota, CDE partners with all 174 public school districts across the state to provide supplemental online courses. In some instances, CDE serves as the entire academic department when qualified instructors are unable to be hired. CDE offers over 350 unique courses to students in grades K-12 taught by a licensed, highly-qualified online instructor. These courses range from core, elective, Career and Technical Education (CTE), dual credit, and credit recovery. All CDE courses are asynchronous, in and out-of-state students may enroll anytime, and North Dakota public schools pay the cost of these courses for any of their enrolled students.
Projects and Highlights
- CDE launched its K-5 program in January of 2021. This program was developed with the help of highly qualified ND elementary instructors and through a curriculum partnership with one of CDE’s curriculum providers.
- Students can earn a high school diploma with CDE. CDE is fully accredited through Cognia and accepts students into its diploma earning program from anywhere around the world with an internet connection. An assigned guidance counselor evaluates each student’s credit needs and helps them stay on track until graduation.
- In 2023, CDE moved under the umbrella of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. As part of this move, CDE aims to strength accountability to all its stakeholders and especially its partnerships with North Dakota schools by moving to competency-based education in all grades, K-12.
- As the only statewide public virtual school in North Dakota, CDE is growing its partnerships with ND public postsecondary institutions to expand dual credit opportunities, with a long-term vision of awarding stackable post-seconday certificates to students to expedite their time to completion at the college level.
- CDE maintains a strong partnership with the North Dakota Department of Career and Technical Education (CTE), collaborating on a number of initiatives, including a statewide virtual CTE course catalog to share with ND counselors and students and expand awareness of the extensive availability of virtual CTE courses offered by CDE and CTE centers.
- CDE helps spearhead changes to state law on required instructional units, recently launching several new courses on cybersecurity and computer science to help ND schools meet new state curricular requirements for grades K-12. Where possible, CDE does this in partnership with state experts, working with ND Edutech, the entity responsible for writing state standards on computer science and cybersecurity, to develop a new high school cybersecurity course.