North Dakota Center for Distance Education has been awarding high school diplomas to students who complete North Dakota’s requirements for high school graduation for over 60 years. First as a correspondence school and now as a digital school, NDCDE provides this service to students throughout North Dakota, as well as other states.
NDCDE’s diploma program is subject to all rules and regulations applied to other public schools in North Dakota, as administered and provided governance by the ND Department of Public Instruction.
A recommendation for graduation is by NDCDE’s director of the diploma program on behalf of those students who have completed all requirements per ND Century Code and Department of Public Instruction graduation standards. Prior to issuance, the recommendation for graduation is reviewed and signed by the NDCDE Principal, the NDCDE State Director and the ND DPI State Superintendent.
Because NDCDE is North Dakota’s only digital school and because NDCDE is not allowed charter school status (charter schools are not allowed by law in North Dakota) all students who enroll in NDCDE’s diploma program come to the program by way of other schools – public, private or home schools. This means that an important step in the enrollment process for students entering NDCDE’s diploma program is a detailed review of their official transcript, or in the case of home schooled students, a thorough investigation of their schooling provided at home.
Because NDCDE is a digital school, and because it is a digital school that is accredited by AdvancED, NDCDE is subject to a requirement not assigned to “brick and mortar” schools. The requirement is referred to as the “25% rule.” Twenty five percent of a student’s course credits must be earned at the digital school that issues the student’s high school diploma. Students are made aware of the 25% rule at NDCDE at the time of enrollment.
Policy Enacted Via Documented Process
The diploma program policies are carried out consistently and accurately via a documented process. The complete process is available for review upon request. The diploma program policies and processes are part of NDCDE’s process-based management system documentation which is available to all NDCDE employees via NDCDE’s Office 365 Sharepointe site. Access by external parties is by permission only and is subject to all federal and state privacy and security rules and regulations.
The diploma program process is conducted by an individual who is qualified and trained to conduct the work and provide the judgments required. The individual is required to possess a school counselor’s licensure. At NDCDE the individual is assigned the title ‘Diploma Program Director’. The Diploma Program Director provides a recommendation for graduation, which is in turn reviewed by NDCDE’s principal and director, who are tasked with the final decision. The review prior to a final decision to award a high school diploma complies with this Diploma Program Policy Statement and can include a detailed review of the diploma review process carried out by the Diploma Program Director.