Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands


CNMI is classified as an unincorporated, organized territory of the United States. A covenant to establish a commonwealth with the U.S. was approved in 1975, and the majority of CNMI’s 55,883 (as of the 2010 U.S. Census) residents are U.S. citizens. Located in Micronesia, CNMI consists of 14 islands with a total land area of 179.01 square miles. Trade and tourism account for a large percentage of the CNMI’s economy.

Only three of the islands are significantly populated—Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. The majority of the population resides on Saipan, the capital. The indigenous populations are Chamorro and Carolinian. English, Chamorro, and Carolinian are the official languages. English is the language of instruction, while Chamorro is also taught in the Public School System (PSS). The PSS is headed by a commissioner of education, who reports to an elected board of education. There are approximately 11,011 students in grades K–12 taught by 464 teachers (not counting teacher aides) across three islands. The compulsory schooling age in CNMI is from 6 to 16. Northern Marianas College, a four-year institution, is CNMI’s sole postsecondary institution.

In the CNMI, REL Pacific supports work around the priority area of college and career readiness. The objective of the CNMI Alliance for College and Career Readiness is to identify college and career readiness indicators and make them more actionable through interventions, policy, and practice. The CNMI Public School System is working closely with REL Pacific and representatives from Northern Marianas College on a study to address issues related to readiness, including determining the availability and quality of student-level data for high school and community college students, tracking college success relative to students’ placement (or non-placement) in remedial courses, and developing supports to positively impact student success.


To view the PDF of the context document, About the REL Pacific Region, click here.
Learn more about the geographically vast region served by REL Pacific. This 12-page context document explores the geography, demographics, and unique strengths and challenges in education in each of the seven entities served by REL Pacific.