Last week, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction received a letter from the U.S. Department of Education that said the state's education plan needs work. 

The DOE letter included a list of items needing more information, including how academic and non-academic factors are weighted and how the state will identify underperforming schools.

North Dakota is one 16 states and the District of Columbia that has submitted a plan to comply with a new federal education law called the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA.

The state's ESSA planning team — a group of about 50 teachers, administrators and representatives from tribal schools — met on Monday to go over the recommendations and provide feedback. State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said many of the proposed revisions to the state plan could be as simple as providing clearer, more detailed descriptions.

The meeting Monday went "really well," Baesler said, and she and the ESSA planning team applauded the DOE's response, which they felt stuck to the goal of state authority without too much federal overreach.

"Generally speaking, the stakeholders that met (Monday) morning did appreciate and understand the importance and the value of the recommendations from the Department of Education to truly clarify and articulate our intention and our purpose of this plan," she said. "Clearer articulation would provide more clarity for all of us, and all of those out in the field who are actually going to be responsible this upcoming year to implement this plan."

ESSA replaced No Child Left Behind and 2015 and gives states more freedom. In addition to the letter from the feds, the state also received 12 pages of feedback from peer reviewers.

An updated plan is due back to the Department of Education on Monday.

(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or