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North Dakota Youth Correctional Center’s Education Proves to Be Highly Functional
By Penny Veit-Hetletved & Gaylene E. Massey
Published: 06/28/2010

Nd doc youth staff The education department of the North Dakota Youth Correctional Center (YCC) doesn’t fit any federal molds for academic measurement due to our transient population. The Director of Education and the teaching staff at YCC’s school find the school improvement process to be an essential element in providing the best possible educational program. YCC uses the AdvancED accreditation service. “AdvancED is the unified organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI). AdvancED is dedicated to advancing excellence in education worldwide through accreditation, research, and professional services.” http://www.advanc-ed.org/

On February 3 & 4, 2010, the YCC school hosted a visiting team of peers representing AdvancED to audit the school program. This audit determines whether or not the school fulfills the requirements of seven specific standards established by the AdvancED organization. These seven standards are:
  1. Vision and Purpose
  2. Governance and Leadership
  3. Teaching and Learning
  4. Documenting and Using Results
  5. Resources and Support Systems
  6. Stakeholder Communications and Relationships
  7. Commitment to Continuous Improvement

Within these seven standards, our school needed to be rated as:
  1. Not Evident
  2. Emerging
  3. Operational
  4. Highly Functional

This QAR (Quality Assurance Report) Audit happens every five years and during the time in between the audit, the school educators worked on improvement goals. These goals could be finding better measurements, implementing new procedures, or specific trainings. YCC’s school system delved deeply into what makes the brain learn by bringing in both brain-research curriculums as well as professionals to teach the YCC educators new methods for curriculum delivery. In addition to these opportunities, the teachers had met in groups often during the 2009-2010 school year to discuss each standard, gather data and artifacts which provided evidence demonstrating how the standards are currently being met. During the audit process, many staff members, including some Administrators and Resident Care staff, were interviewed for their input. This process could not have been complete without the help of staff other than teachers, so in essence, the results of this audit reflect on the entire YCC facility.

We are proud to report that the YCC school was recommended to be accredited at the Highly-Functional level in all seven standards. The recommendation was approved by the quality assurance review professionals, and YCC is now accredited by AdvancED to the HIGHLY FUNCTIONAL rating in all seven categories. The QAR audit team chair has several years of auditing experience in her resume, and when she reported their findings to our educational group, she declared that this is the first time in her experience that a school would reach this highly functional rating in ALL seven standards.

Becoming accredited assures other schools, parents, and all of the stakeholders that the YCC education department practices a continuous school improvement process and leaves no question that the students are receiving an excellent educational program while in our care.

Editor's note:
Penny Veit-Hetletved has been with the North Dakota Youth Correctional Center (NDYCC) for the past five years. Her first responsibility was to implement the Read Right program. Since then, she also coordinates the school improvement process and the Schoolwide Title I program. In addition, Penny is launching the Read Right training model by training three tutors to implement the program with the adult population for the ND Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation this summer.

Gaylene E. Massey has served the North Dakota Youth Correctional Center (NDYCC) in a variety of roles including classroom teacher, school improvement coordinator, and for the last five years as Administrator of Educational Services over the past 33 years.


  1. Memo on 01/06/2011:

    I think you did a great job

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