Nebraska will lead the way in addressing inequities of the past by focusing on opportunities to learn for all students and by adopting a relentless focus on outcomes that ensure all stakeholders deliver on the promise of equity.

Equity Resources

Champions for Equity in Education Logo

Champions for Equity in Education Video

Commitments for Equity in Education (Administrators’ Days – NDE Day Keynote Handout)

Five Roles Poster

Five Commitments Poster

Key Messages

The Nebraska Department of Education champions all schools and communities in developing and maintaining a positive school culture that supports learning opportunities for all students.

  • Equity in education ensures that all students are known, heard, and supported while having access to the opportunities and resources needed to be ready for success. This includes opportunities for students to discover and explore their passions within a positive learning environment.
  • NDE will champion Nebraska’s educational system through five Commitments for Equity in Education:
    • We commit to an equity of opportunity by ensuring all Nebraskans are college, career, and civic ready
    • We commit to an equity of achievement by measuring and tracking academic progress
    • We commit to an equity of access by leading and supporting educator effectiveness
    • We commit to an equity of access by supporting quality instructional materials
    • We commit to an equity of access and opportunity by engaging Nebraskans

All Nebraskans, across all backgrounds and circumstances, deserve equitable access and opportunities for success.

  • Equity requires that opportunities and outcomes exist across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, sexual orientation, family background, adverse events, and/or family income.
  • The state will lead and advance educational equity for all through five roles:
    • CHAMPION educational equity by actively leading the strategic vision, goals, and policy direction to support learning, earning, and living for all students;
    • REGULATE educational equity by leveraging policy authority to ensure delivery of high-quality, equitable education and services, beyond compliance with state and federal regulations;
    • BUILD CAPACITY around educational equity by directing technical assistance and professional development opportunities and by promoting the sharing of best practices;
    • BUILD CONNECTIONS in support of educational equity bridging the divide between learning, earning, and living, connecting schools, families, business, and communities
    • Demonstrate CHANGE AGENCY by exploring and supporting promising new innovations that advance educational equity

Equity is a matter of human dignity. As educational leaders of Nebraska, it is our duty to ensure that courtesy and respect are show to all students.

  • All educators should take reasonable steps to provide for the safety of everyone in their school and keep all students safe from discrimination, harassment, and bullying.
  • Education leaders should take all reasonable steps to provide time, resources, and support for learning opportunities for their school, students, and staff to ensure that all have a clear understanding of the expectations of a positive school and community culture.

Commissioner’s Talent Pool

To:                Principal, Superintendent, Assistant Principal, and Assistant Superintendent

From:          Matthew L. Blomstedt, Ph.D., Commissioner of Education

Re:               Talent Pool Recommendations – Elementary (K-5)

Deadline:  June 13, 2018

The Nebraska Department of Education is searching for emerging and established distinguished instructional leaders among the cadre of teachers and principals.  These educators may be considered as candidates for special recognition programs, as well as considered for membership on advisory boards and task forces.  Your recommendations will identify Nebraska educators who are of great value to your community and state, and who may also ultimately receive prestigious recognition.

The veteran educators represented in our talent pool have been and continue to be a valuable resource in our state efforts.  At this time, we are looking for representation from elementary (K-5) educators relatively new to the profession who demonstrate outstanding instructional and leadership ability.  We are looking for educators with at least five years of experience, especially.  This would include educators receiving Bachelor’s degrees after the year 2000.  These individuals should exhibit strong potential for professional leadership and inspiring presence that impacts students, colleagues, and community.

Do you know an educator who is illustrative of the best, not only in Nebraska, but also in the nation?  Whose lessons provide models for others?  Who has distinguished himself/herself above and beyond established top-quality professionals in many of our schools?  Candidates are building level personnel.  They are typically classroom teachers as opposed to specialists and are recognized by peers and supervisors as unique in their growth.  Previous recognition is not required.  In fact, of special interest are educators who are outstanding, but have not received other recognition.

Please provide confidential, succinct, and specific information regarding a candidate on the form linked below.  All questions must be answered, preferably typewritten.  Please include a one-page narrative with this form that addresses how the candidate meets the criteria mentioned in this letter, and also a resume from his or her personnel file.  We ask that you keep this recommendation confidential and do not share it with the individual.  I urge you to take the time to recommend a candidate.  If necessary, please assign the request to an associate.  Complete information must be sent by June 13, 2018 to:

Lora Sypal, Executive Office Associate
Office of the Commissioner
Nebraska Department of Education
P.O. Box 94987
Lincoln, NE  68509-4987

Talent Pool Recommendation Form (PDF):  Talent Pool Recommendation Form

Instructions for Saving and Completing the PDF Form:

  • Right click on the Talent Pool Recommendation Form link above.
  • Select “Save link as” or “Save file as”.
  • Save the link or file to your computer.
  • Navigate on your computer to where the file was saved.
  • Open and complete the form in Adobe Reader.
  • Save what you have completed.
  • At the bottom of the form, “Submit by Email” the completed form.
  • Also in the Email, attach the one page narrative, as to how the candidate meets the criteria, and the candidate’s resume.

If you have technical issues with the PDF form:  https://www.education.ne.gov/pdfhelp/

For questions or to receive a Word version of the Form, contact Lora Sypal, lora.sypal@nebraska.gov or (402) 471-5059.

State Council on Educational Opportunity for Military Children

Nebraska became part of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children July 1, 2012 through legislation that was enacted in 2011 (Nebraska Revised Statutes 79-2201 through 2206). The Compact provides for the uniform treatment of military children transferring between school districts and states. The purpose of this Compact is to remove barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families because of frequent moves and deployment of their parents. The Compact also established the State Council on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, which meets annually. The State Council advises the Department with regard to the State’s participation in and compliance with the Compact.

Brian Halstead, Deputy Commissioner, Nebraska Department of Education, was appointed as the State Commissioner for the Interstate Commission on the Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

National Link for the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3)


Members – September 2017

(Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-2204(1))



Contact Information

Commissioner of Education
Dr. Matthew L. Blomstedt


Nebraska Department of Education
P.O. Box 94987
Lincoln, NE 68509-4987
Compact Commissioner
Brian Halstead,
Deputy Commissioner of Education


Nebraska Department of Education
P.O. Box 94987
Lincoln, NE  68509-4987
Chairperson of the Education Committee of the Legislature (non-voting)
Senator Mike Groene


402-471-2729 (Capitol)
State Capitol
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln , NE  68509
School District Representative
Dr. Jeff Rippe, Superintendent of
Bellevue Public Schools
8/5/2016 to 8/5/2019 jeff.rippe@bpsne.net
Bellevue Public Schools
1600 Hwy 370
Bellevue , NE  68005-3591
Military Representative
Offut Air Force Base 55th Wing Support Group Commander —
Col. Dave Norton
8/4/2017 to 8/4/2020 john.norton.1@us.af.mil
Offutt Air Force Base  NE
Military Family Education Liaison
Sara Hulac,
Legal Counsel II
Nebraska Department of Education


Nebraska Department of Education
P.O. Box 94987
Lincoln, NE 68509-4987

Agenda / Minutes

Agenda / Minutes – DRAFT – September 15, 2015

Agenda / Minutes – September 22, 2014

Agenda / Minutes – September 26, 2013

Agenda / Minutes – September 28, 2012


Contact Us

Matthew L. Blomstedt

Deputy Commissioner
School Improvement and Support
Deborah A. Frison

Deputy Commissioner
Chief of Staff
Brian Halstead

Deputy Commissioner
Vocational Rehabilitation
Mark Schultz

Chief Information Officer
Dean Folkers

Chief Academic Officer
Cory Epler

Administrative Assistant
to the Commissioner

Denise Fisher

Administrative Assistant
Lora Sypal

Administrative Associate III
Jason Gomez

Professional Practices Commission
Kelly Muthersbaugh

Director of State Board Relations
Ryan Foor


From the Commissioner

Matthew L. Blomstedt


Commissioner Blomstedt

AQuESTT is Working, Generating Conversations Statewide About Continuous School Improvement

February 4, 2016

The AQuESTT results are out. You know how your school and district were classified. Now the real work begins.

Today I want to weigh in on the conversations that are taking place statewide in our schools about AQuESTT, discussions about what the classifications really mean and how this new, next-generation accountability system ― Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow ― informs continuous improvement.

The overarching goal is: Support and rewards for every student, school and educator.

AQuESTT has given all of us ― educators statewide ― a framework for our conversations about continuous school improvement.

One of AQuESTT’s strengths is the conversation that has begun in our schools, at the state level among policy makers and, most importantly, the conversation among teachers who are the heart of student learning ― teachers who have an educated eye to recognize what works well in the classroom and how to build on it.

As an engaged teacher, you already know how your school was classified, your district’s classification and what those classification’s mean in the terms of the strengths and breadth of the initiatives your school has in place.

You also are talking now about how to build on those initiatives and identifying new ones to improve learning of every student every day.

Your school and district profiles, which were based on data from the final classification and the Evidence-Based Analysis, were designed to be diagnostic and to support your continuous improvement work.

But, whether your school or district received a classification of great, good, needs improvement or the highest classification of excellent, we all can always get better, find new and better ways to connect with students, expand learning opportunities for children, build stronger relationships with parents and the community, better help students transition between grades, use test results more effectively to inform instruction and help all students set goals at all grade levels so they graduate college and career ready.

AQuESTT recognizes that teachers are key to continuous school improvement.

Teachers are key to improving classroom instruction, key to building those critical connections and relationships with students and their families, key to also building community support for their schools.

As Commissioner, I applaud your dedication and your work on behalf of all Nebraska students.

Thank you. I encourage you to call Nebraska Department of Education staff or me if you need assistance or guidance as you move forward in your key role in continuous school improvement.


The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) is a constitutional agency approved by Nebraska voters. The Department operates under the authority of an elected board of education. NDE is organized into teams that interact to operate the agency and carry out the duties assigned by state and federal statutes and the policy directions of the State Board of Education. The teams are organized around distinct functions and responsibilities that encompass leadership and support for Nebraska’s system of early childhood, primary, secondary and postsecondary education; direct services to clients; and internal support to the agency.

The department carries out its duties on behalf of Nebraska students in public, private, and nonpublic school systems. The staff of the department interacts with schools and institutions of higher education to develop, coordinate and improve educational programs.

Matt L Blomstedt

Matthew L. Blomstedt, Commissioner

Dr. Matthew Blomstedt was named Commissioner of Education by the Nebraska State Board of Education on January 2, 2014.

Dr. Blomstedt led the successful development and implementation of a comprehensive state accountability system, AQuESTT, and positioned Nebraska to meet new federal requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

AQuESTT ― Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow ― is Nebraska’s next-generation accountability system. AQuESTT goes beyond test scores and graduation rates to classify schools and districts under a system that provides critical information for continuous school improvement. This forward-thinking system is expected to position Nebraska to not only meet new federal guidelines but to also empower the state’s excellent schools to become even better while helping schools needing improvement. AQuESTT’s goal is to provide the data and information needed to strengthen school and district support of student learning by focusing on every student every day. AQuESTT has earned the support of Nebraska educators, state education policy leaders and the State Board of Education.

To further develop and focus on improvement efforts, Dr. Blomstedt and the State Board of Education, jointly initiated a comprehensive strategic plan to guide their student-focused work and that of the Nebraska Department of Education.
Dr. Blomstedt serves on several boards and commissions in Nebraska. He was appointed to the national Board of Directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers in December 2017.

Dr. Blomstedt is a native Nebraskan whose career focuses on local, regional and statewide education issues. Blomstedt’s experience includes education finance and organization, assessment and accountability, professional development, and the development of systems to enhance blended and distance learning opportunities across the state.
Dr. Blomstedt earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Higher Education and a Master’s Degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Deb Frison

Deborah A. Frison, Deputy Commissioner
School Improvement and Support

Dr. Frison started with the Nebraska Department of Education in 2015 as Deputy Commissioner of Education for School Improvement and Support. She is a veteran Nebraska educator with 38 years of teaching and administrative experience within the Omaha Public Schools (OPS). 

Dr. Frison formerly served seven years as Principal of Burke High School (OPS).  Prior to Burke she served as Principal of King Science and Technology Magnet, a 5th through 8th grade magnet school, from 2000-2008, and Morton Middle School from 1997-2000.  She received her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln/Omaha in 2000.  She holds a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Nebraska Wesleyan University.


Brian Halstead

Brian Halstead, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Staff

Brian has served as an Assistant Commissioner since June 2008, and has been employed by the Department since August 1990 handling numerous areas related to the development, implementation and application of the law, education policy, and legislative liaison activities at the federal , state, and local levels.  Brian is a native Nebraskan having lived in York, Ogallala, Fremont, and Lincoln.

Brian received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1982, and a Doctorate of Law from the University of Nebraska Law School in 1985.


Mark Schultz

Mark Schultz, Deputy Commissioner
Vocational Rehabilitation

Mark Schultz has 34 years of experience in providing and developing disability-related services. For the last six years, he has been the Director of Nebraska VR focusing on training and employment for individuals with disabilities. He was the Assistive Technology Partnership Director for twenty years prior to his current role.

Mark has worked to benefit Nebraskans with disabilities by fostering partnerships with public and private organizations, securing grants, developing innovative and creative services and programs to advance the mission of the agency.

Mark received his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.


To lead and support the preparation of all Nebraskans for learning, earning, and living.


Partnering for the best education for all . . . for life.


Equity of access and opportunity

Honesty, integrity, and trust

Quality programs and services

Visionary and participatory leadership

A positive, can-do attitude

Accountability for results

Respect for individuals and individual differences

Equity of opportunities and outcomes

Excellence through continuous improvement