Special Education Performance Dashboard Showcases Continued NDUS IR Collaboration


The second annual Special Education Performance Dashboard released in May 2020 on Insights showcases continued interagency collaboration between the North Dakota University System Institutional Research (IR) Office, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI), and North Dakota Information Technology (NDIT).

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) requires annual state and district-level reporting upon Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) performance indicators to be publicly reported in the same location as the state’s official public ESSA reporting. On the heels of North Dakota being the first state in the nation to report statewide Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability, NDUS IR, the NDDPI Special Education Office, and ND Information Technology (NDIT) – with support from Otis Educational Systems, Inc. – designed interactive state and district-level dashboards for Special Education performance measures, first released in May 2019. These dashboards replaced Annual Performance Reports previously distributed in the form of Adobe Acrobat pdf documents.

The 17 Special Education IDEA indicators reported include student measures related to graduation and dropout rates, state assessment performance and participation, preschool outcomes, education transition indicators, and post-school student outcomes. School environment indicators include parental involvement, learning environment, suspension and expulsion rates, and resolution and mediation rates.

North Dakota University System Institutional Research Office staff Dr. Ellie Shockley and Dr. Greg Carlson have worked with Special Education office Director Gerry Teevens, along with staff members Mary McCarvel-O’Connor, and Dr. Emmanuel Mensah to gather reporting requirements, determine reporting rules, and design visualization specifications. Based upon these specifications, the data was placed into an accountability reporting structure and visualizations were developed.

The data is reviewed for accuracy by NDDPI staff, district leaders, and Special Education Unit directors across the state before being released publicly. Upon publication, the data is utilized by NDDPI staff, district leaders, and Special Education Unit Directors to help enhance Special Education instruction. The NDDPI Special Education Office also hosts data meetings with schools and districts, facilitating deeper analysis and development of action items for improving Special Education student performance.

According to Carlson, “This initiative has built upon North Dakota’s unique inter-agency collaboration between the NDUS Institutional Research Office, the Department of Public Instruction, and North Dakota Information Technology (NDIT) that began with the Insights K-12 public school ESSA dashboards to produce interactive visualizations, presenting performance measure data in meaningful ways to facilitate enhancements in student learning.”


   Dr. Gregory Carlson is an Institutional Researcher – Special Projects with the North Dakota University System. Working closely with the Department of Public Instruction and Information Technology Department, primary responsibilities include project management, data framing, and ensuring compliance with requirements for statewide K-12 public school Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) accountability reporting through the Insights interactive public dashboards. He assists in addressing accountability data questions from education stakeholders and facilitating use of educational data to facilitate continuous improvement of student learning within North Dakota’s public K-12 schools.