74 percent of Montana’s public schools met federal
education requirements for yearly progress, according
to an Aug. 5 report released by the Montana Office
of Public Instruction.

Data showed consistent improvement in student test
scores, and 609 of Montana’s 821 public schools currently
meet federal requirements.

Coordinated by Montana’s Office of Public Instruction,
the report complies with the federal No Child
Left Behind Act (NCLB) and requires schools to meet
41 benchmarks. A school’s “adequate yearly progress”
is calculated based on test participation, academic
achievement, graduation rate, as well as other
statistics.

Although Montana was scheduled to jump to 92 percent
proficiency in Reading and 84 percent in Math,
the Superintendent of Public Instruction didn’t raise
statewide testing goals this year. As required by
NCLB, Montana has set a goal for 100 percent proficiency
for all students by 2014.

“I’m not afraid of accountability or reform,” said
Denise Juneau, Montana’s Superintendent of Public
Instruction. “I am working with the public school
community to improve education in Montana in a
way that matters for our students and prepares them
for college and careers.”

Where reform is necessary, Juneau’s office works in
collaboration with teachers and administrators to find
local solutions that fit Montana’s rural communities.
On Monday Aug. 8, the Obama administration announced
a waiver that will lessen some of the No
Child Left Behind mandates. Soon more than 80
percent of the nation’s schools aren’t meeting the strict
requirements, according to Education Secretary Arne
Duncan.

Many states, as well as the administration, have asked
Congress to rewrite the law, saying it’s too punitive.
The waiver will allow states to avoid many of NCLB’s
penalties and deadlines, according to an NPR newscast.
Further information about the waiver won’t be out
until Sept., so Montana’s Supt. Juneau is waiting to
see the details before deciding whether to apply for it.

“I want to make sure that any reforms attached to the
waiver will work for Montana’s rural communities,”
she said.

E.S.

Superintendent Juneau
pointed to the following
reform efforts underway in
Montana:
• Recommending the Board of
Public Education adopt the
Common Core State Standards
in English, Language
Arts and Mathematics. These
are higher and clearer than
Montana’s current standards,
are aligned with college and
workforce expectations, and
are designed to ensure students
learn skills to be competitive
in a global economy
• Collaboration in four communities
to turn around the state’s
lowest-performing schools,
which resulted in increased
average test scores in Reading,
Math and Science
• Overhauling the Montana accreditation
standards to make
them more performance based,
giving schools flexibility
to focus on student achievement
• Launching Graduation Matters
Montana, a statewide initiative
that engages schools,
communities, businesses and
families in a focused effort to
increase the number of students
who graduate
• Creating a new data warehouse
to improve transparency
and access to education
data for the public, and allowing
more individualized instruction
and support services
for students by teachers and
administrators