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Valley City State University has evolved from its founding as a "normal school" or teacher's college in 1890 to its current status as a comprehensive university offering both undergraduate and master’s degree programs. Located in Valley City, a city of approximately 7000 people in southeastern North Dakota, the university serves a geographical area that is not ethnically diverse. The service area’s population is largely white, non-Hispanic (97.4%) with no other ethnic group making up as much as 1% of the population.

The institution is one of the original "Laptop Universities," and for more than 10 years it has provided its students with technology enhanced learning experience. The university supplies a laptop to every student, utilizes the BlackBoard Enterprise instructional management system, and implements other educational technologies for student and faculty use in teaching and learning.

The unit provides 15 initial-level undergraduate programs for the preparation of school personnel. The initial level programs, all of which are approved by the state, are listed as follows: elementary education, history, composite music education, biology, composite science, composite chemistry, social studies, Spanish, mathematics, English, art, business, physical education, health, and technology education. The unit offers the following three advanced programs which are all approved by the state: teaching and technology, technology education, and library and information technologies. Two of the advanced programs were initially approved by the State Board of Higher Education in 2006, and the other was approved in 2007.

The protocol for NCATE visits in North Dakota requires joint visits for BOE and state team members. This protocol was followed for the Valley City State University visit with BOE and state team members working well together as a team. There were no deviations from the protocol.