North Dakota Regulations

(Last Updated April 9, 2014)

Private Schools

Accreditation, Registration, Licensing, and Approval

  • Accreditation is optional.
    • The superintendent of public instruction may adopt rules governing the accreditation of nonpublic schools. Any rule adopted must include measures of student achievement and its improvement. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-02-11.
  • Registration has no requirements.
  • Licensing has no requirements.
    • Licensing of nonpublic pre-schools and day cares is done through the North Dakota Department of Human Services.
  • Approval is mandatory
    • The superintendent of public instruction must approve all nonpublic schools offering elementary or secondary education. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-06-06.
    • For those nonpublic schools that are not in compliance with the requirements for approval and do not then receive a certificate of approval, the superintendent of public instruction is to notify those nonpublic school students’ parents that they may be in violation of the compulsory attendance requirements. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-06-06.1.
    • The superintendent of public instruction may not approve a school unless each teacher is licensed or approved to teach by the education standards and practices board; teacher is teaching courses only in fields in which he or she is licensed or for which he or she has received an exception under section 15.1-09-57; students are offered all subjects required by law; the school is in compliance with all local and state health, fire, and safety laws; and the school has conducted criminal history record checks on employees who have unsupervised contact with children. N.D. Cent. Code §§15.1-06-06 and 15.1-06-06.1.
    • The superintendent of public instruction may approve a nonpublic secondary school with enrollment of fifty students or fewer if the school provides courses in all subjects required by law, complies with statutes regarding the length of the school year, and meets all health, fire, and safety standards. Curricular programs offered by schools that deliver courses by telecommunications or other electronic means must be prepared by individuals holding at least baccalaureate degrees and delivered by those with a North Dakota professional teaching license or who at least meet the average cutoff scores of states that have normed the national teacher’s examination. The school must have at least one state-licensed high school teacher for each twenty-five students. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-06-07.

Teacher Certification

  • Teacher certification is mandatory.
  • Elementary school (grades 1–6 or 1–8) teachers must be licensed or approved to teach by the education standards and practices board and have a major in elementary education or its equivalent. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-18-07.
  • Middle school teachers (grades 5–8) must be licensed or approved to teach by the education standards and practices board and have a major in middle-level education with content in areas specific to the courses he or she is teaching or its equivalent. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-18-08.
  • High school teachers (grades 7–12) must be licensed or approved to teach by the education standards and practices board and have a major in the areas taught by the individual or its equivalent. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-18-09.

Length of School Year and Days

  • Elementary and secondary schools must provide for a school calendar of at least 182 days, which include one hundred seventy-five full days of instruction, three holidays, two parent-teacher conference days, and two days for professional development activities (which may be substituted by required or optional attendance at the North Dakota education association instructional conference). N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-06-04 (sections 3 and 6).
  • Attendance at a nonpublic school exempts students between the ages of seven and 16 from public education if the nonpublic school provides a school year that is for the same length of time as the calendar length of the public school year. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-20-02(section 1).


  • To be approved by the superintendent of public instruction, each public and nonpublic elementary and middle school shall provide students instruction in the following: English language arts, including reading, composition, creative writing, English grammar, and spelling; mathematics; social studies, including the United States Constitution, United States history, geography, government, and North Dakota studies, with an emphasis on the geography, history, and agriculture of the state, in grades 4 and 8; science, including agriculture; physical education; health, including physiology, hygiene, disease control, and the nature and effects of alcohol, tobacco, and narcotics. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-21-01.
  • Course offerings for high school must include the following number of units of study: English language arts (four, including literature, composition and speech); mathematics (four, including one unit of algebra II and one unit for which algebra II is a prerequisite); science (four, including one of physical science and one of biology); social studies (four, including world history, United States history, and one unit of problems of democracy or one-half unit of United States government and one-half unit of economics); health (one-half), physical education (one-half each year, provided that once every four years the unit must be a concept-based personal fitness class that focuses on assessment, improvement, and maintenance); fine arts (two, including at least one in music); foreign or Native American language (two of the same language); advanced placement or dual-credit (one); and, career and technical education (two). Further, each public and nonpublic school must, at least once every two years, make available to each student one-half unit of North Dakota studies with an emphasis on the geography, history, and agriculture of the state. Each of the above-named units offered within a school’s curriculum must meet or exceed state content standards. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-21-02.
  • The minimum requirements for high school graduation are four units of English language arts, including literature, composition and speech; three units of mathematics; three units of science, including one of physical science and one of biology; three units of social studies, which may include combined half units of various topics; one unit of physical education, which may include a half unit of health; three units of a foreign or Native American language, fine arts, or career and technical education; and any five additional units. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-21-02.2.
  • Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, nonpublic schools must address the risks associated with adolescent sexual activity and the benefits of abstinence in the sexual health portion of the health curriculum. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-21-24.

Recordkeeping and Reports

  • The superintendent of public instruction is required by law to include information regarding the state’s approved nonpublic schools in the annual report submitted by the end of February to the governor, legislative council, and the secretary of state. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-02-09.
  • Students enrolled in nonpublic schools must be registered in their legal surname for all records regarding the students maintained by the school and in all communications requiring the use of a surname. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-19-01.
  • Each nonpublic school must submit data regarding school attendance to the superintendent of public instruction. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-20-03.1.
  • The school administrator for a nonpublic school must report to the superintendent of public instruction the number of 11th-grade students who took the ACT, including the writing test; the number who took the three WorkKeys assessments; and those that were exempted from these requirements along with the reason for each exemption. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-21-19.
  • The superintendent of public instruction may examine the records of any nonpublic school upon request. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-06-06.3.2.b.

Health and Safety Requirements

  • Each nonpublic school must be inspected at least once every three years by the state fire marshal. The state fire marshal will prepare an inspection report and provide copies of the report to the administrator of the school and the superintendent of public instruction. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-06-10.
  • If a nonpublic school is found deficient in the fire marshal’s inspection report, the school administrator must submit a plan of correction to the state fire marshal or designee and remedy the deficiency within an acceptable time period. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-06-10.2.a.
  • Private school teachers, administrators, parents, and guardians are prohibited from permitting children with significant contagious or infectious diseases, or those residing in any house in which any such disease exists or has recently existed, to attend school until permitted to do so under the regulations of the local board of health. N.D. Cent. Code §23-07-16.
  • Plans and specifications for all new private school buildings and for additions and remodeling for existing school buildings must be submitted to and approved by the state fire marshal. N.D. Cent. Code §§18-12-03, 18-12-05.
  • Nonpublic schools may organize and supervise school safety patrols and appoint students to the safety patrol. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-19-11.
  • Nonpublic schools shall conduct fire, tornado, and other emergency or disaster drills, including lockdown drills. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-06-12.
  • If a nonpublic school runs or permits athletic programs in the state involving students who practice, train, or compete in, the school must follow the requirements of a concussion management program. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-18.2-04.
  • For a nonpublic school implementing a bullying policy, similar to that outlined for public schools in §15.1-19-8, and substantially obeying that policy, the school and its employees are immune from any liability that might be incurred as a result of a student having been a recipient of bullying. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-19-22.3.


  • Nonpublic school students may receive transportation to school on public school buses running on public school routes if authorized by the local school board, passenger room is available. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-30-15.


  • There is no state policy at this time pertaining to textbooks for private schools.


  • Nonpublic school grade 11 students must take the ACT, including the writing test, or three WorkKeys assessments recommended by the career and technical education department and approved by the superintendent of instruction who is responsible for the cost of securing and then administering a student’s one summative assessment decided upon by the student. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-21-19.

Special Education

  • If there are no public schools in the state with the necessary facilities, school districts must contract with accredited, private, nonsectarian, nonprofit corporations within or outside the state or out-of-state public schools for the education of students with disabilities that are unable to attend public schools in the district because of their disability. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-32-15.
  • If a student’s individualized education program or services plan requires the provision of transportation services, the student’s school district of residence must provide it by any reasonably prudent means, including a regularly scheduled school bus, public transit, commercial transportation, chartered or other contracted transportation, and transportation provided by the student’s parent or other responsible party. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-32-16.

Nursing and Health

  • A nonpublic school may establish a program for providing medication to students. This program includes authorizing a teacher or classified staff member to provide a student with his or her medication once this teacher or staff member has been trained to do so. Written consent from a student’s parent or guardian must also be on hand. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-19-23.


  • There is no state policy at this time pertaining to technology for private schools.

Training in Concussion Management

  • Any nonpublic school that sponsors or sanctions any athletic activity in the state and requires a participating student to practice or train and compete is subject to the terms of a concussion management program. Each nonpublic school official, coach, and individual having direct responsibility for students during practice, training, or competition must receive biennial training about the nature and risk of concussion. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-18.2-04.

Reimbursement for Performing State and Local Functions

  • There is no state policy at this time pertaining to reimbursement for performing state and local functions.

Tax Exemption

  • Gross receipts from the sale of textbooks to private school students and the sale of textbooks, yearbooks, school supplies and food supplies to private nonprofit elementary and secondary schools are exempt from state sales tax. N.D. Cent. Code §57-39.2-04(sections 5 and 20).

Public Aid for Private Education

  • Constitutional Provisions: “No money raised for the support of the public schools of the state shall be appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.” N.D. Const. art. 8, § 5.
  • Programs for Financial Assistance for Attendance at Private Schools: There is no program at this time pertaining to financial assistance for attendance at nonpublic schools.

Home Schools

  • “Home education” is defined as “a program of education supervised by a child’s parent in accordance with the requirements of this chapter.” N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-23-01.

Initial and Renewal Applications

  • A parent intending to supervise home education must submit at least 14 days prior to the beginning of home education an annual statement with the superintendent of the public school district in which the child resides. The statement must include the names and addresses of the parent who will supervise and the child who will receive home education; the date of birth and grade level of the child; the intention of the parent to supervise home education; the qualifications of the parent who will supervise home education; a list of public school courses in which the child intends to enroll and the public school district offering the courses; a list of extracurricular activities in which the child intends to participate and the public school district or approved nonpublic school offering the activities; proof of immunizations; and proof of identity. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-23-02.

Curriculum and Instruction

  • The home education must include instruction in those subjects required by law to be taught to public school students and must have a duration of at least four hours each day for a minimum of one hundred seventy-five days each year. The state provides exact guidance for elementary, middle and high school curriculum requirements. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-23-04 and §15.1-21-01.
  • The parent supervising home education must maintain an annual record of courses taken by the child and the child’s academic progress assessments, including any standardized achievement test results. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-23-05.
  • A parent is qualified to supervise home education if he or she has a high school diploma or a general education development certificate. However, a parent who does not meet these qualifications must be monitored for the first two years of home education by a teacher licensed or approved to teach by the education standards and practices board. If the child being instructed receives a composite standardized achievement test score below the 50th percentile nationally, the required monitoring must continue for at least another school year and until the student reaches the 50th percentile nationally. N.D. Cent. Code §§15.1-23-03, 06 and 07.

Assessment, Diplomas, and Scholarships

  • A student receiving home education must take the standardized test used by the school district in which the student resides in grades four, six, eight, and ten or, if requested by the parent, a nationally normed standardized achievement test. The student may take the test in his or her learning environment or, if requested by the parent, in a public school. The test must be administered by an individual licensed or approved to teach by the education standards and practices board. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-23-09(section 1).
  • There is no applicable standardized testing requirement if a parent or legal guardian of a student who holds a teaching license recognized by education standards and practices board; holds a baccalaureate degree; or meets or exceeds the national teacher exam cutoff score notifies the school district in which the child resides that the parent objects to the standardized tests for philosophical, moral, or religious reasons. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-23-09(section 2).
  • If the student takes the standardized test used by the school district in which he or she resides, then the school district is responsible for the cost of the test and ensuring that a licensed district employee administers the test. If the student takes a nationally normed standardized test not used by the school district in which the child resides, then the parent is responsible for the cost of the test and the cost of administering the test. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-23-10.
  • The parent supervising home education must file the results of the student’s standardized achievement test with the superintendent of the student’s resident district. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-23-11.
  • If a student receiving home education receives a basic composite score lower than the 30th percentile on a standardized achievement test then that student will be assessed for potential learning problems by a multidisciplinary assessment team. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-23-11.
  • A high school diploma may be issued to a student by the student’s school district of residence, a state-approved nonpublic high school, or the North Dakota Center for Distance Education if the student, through home education, has met the issuing entity’s requirements for high school graduation and the student’s parent or legal guardian provides the issuing entity with the required documentation. A student who, through home education, has completed at least twenty-two units of high school coursework from the minimum required by law may also be eligible to be issued a high school diploma by one of the above-named entities. The student’s parents or legal guardian must supply the required documentation. For a diploma requested by this latter method, the issuing entity may indicate on the diploma that the student was home educated. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-23-17.
  • A North Dakota homeschooled student is eligible to apply, with verified documentation, for either the North Dakota Academic Scholarship or the Career and Technical Education Scholarship. Completion of the Home Education Transcript for the North Dakota Scholarship Program is a requirement. N.D. Cent. Code §§15.1-21-02.5, 15.1-21-02.4.

Public School Access

  • “A child receiving home education may participate in extracurricular activities either: under the auspices of the child’s school district of residence; or under the auspices of an approved nonpublic school, if permitted by the administrator of the school.” In either case, the child is subject to the transfer rules of the constitution and bylaws of the North Dakota high school activities association. N.D. Cent. Code §15.1-23-16.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, State Regulation of Private and Home Schools, North Dakota