- Montana has a strong system for standards and assessments: The state uses Common Core-aligned standards and Smarter Balanced assessments.
- In addition, the state has chosen a potentially comprehensive and useful set of indicators that includes an assessment of science in K-8 schools and college and career readiness in high school.
- The state also deserves credit for seeking input from stakeholders and selecting a low minimum group size of 10 for student subgroups in order to include more schools and students in the accountability system. Montana’s approach to providing structure, process, and assistance to schools in comprehensive support and improvement also appears promising.
- Finally, the state was thoughtful in describing how it will support and improve school conditions and transitions.
- Montana’s plan does not provide sufficient detail or description about the proposed accountability system, how it will be integrated with other state initiatives, or—most importantly—how it will substantially improve student achievement and close performance gaps.
- The state does not set a high bar for academic proficiency or growth. The long-term goals for proficiency appear low, especially for the subgroups that are already the furthest behind.
- Montana proposes goals that would narrow gaps, but still leave large gaps intact.
- The state perhaps places too much weight on indicators such as chronic absenteeism, while deemphasizing academic achievement.
- Critically, the state’s system for identifying schools is relative instead of objective, which means schools can be perceived as improving merely because other schools are declining, irrespective of their own progress or lack thereof.
- Generally, the state’s plan lacks detail in a number of critical areas. It does not appear that the state sufficiently analyzed data or provided enough detail to fully understand the implications of the various choices it is making.