The Office of Public Instruction is one of Montana's five constitutionally recognized offices headed by a statewide elected official. Every four years, Montanans elect a Superintendent of Public Instruction to manage the OPI. The OPI serves as Montana's state education agency. Montana is a 'local control in education state' so much of the decision-making in education happens in our state's over 400 local school districts by a locally elected board of trustees. The OPI exists to serve students, parents, and local schools.
There are 13 divisions within the OPI:
The purpose of the Content Standards and Instruction (CSI) Division is to facilitate revision and
implementation of Montana’s content standards through high quality professional
development and resources for educators to ensure that all Montana
children are prepared for college, career, and life-long learning.
Montana's content standards guide the development of curriculum at the local level. Content standards are periodically revised to ensure that Montana students are receiving a modern and relevant education.
The Health Enhancement and Safety Division manages programs under three Units. Coordinated School Health, School Nutrition, and Traffic Education. The Coordinated School Health Unit manages programs that support Project Aware, a Suicide Prevention program, Emergency Planning, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, School Health Profiles, 21st Century Learning Center Afterschool programs and the Tobacco Use Prevention program. This unit manages many partnerships in its work with schools across the state, non-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies. School Nutrition manages eight Department of Agriculture (USDA) child nutrition programs. The unit reimburses schools to distribute USDA foods for meals served to children, provide teacher workshops, and ensure proper implementation of federal regulations while providing nutrition education for students, The Traffic Education program supports schools in providing guidance on traffic education and advanced drivers education. Traffic Education supports high school driver education programs with curriculum and teacher preparation standards. The program provides information, resources and technical assistance to school districts, families, program managers and traffic education teachers. The Montana DRIVE summer workshops held in Lewistown, MT, help adult and teen drivers practice techniques for managing and avoiding risky driving situations.
The M&A Division is responsible for the coordination of non-fiscal data collections to assure coordinated application of policy, appropriate interpretation of reporting requirements, comparability of data, and communication of data analysis to school districts, OPI management and staff, the legislature and the public. This Division also ensures that our annual required statewide assessments are aligned to Montana’s challenging college-and career-ready academic standards, are equitable for all students, and provide meaningful results which can be used by various audiences to serve learning. The staff helps guide school personnel through the local role(s) and responsibility(ies) to administer these required statewide assessments in compliance with federal and state law and strives to offer professional development to advance the teaching and learning practices with the use of balanced assessment systems. M&A is committed to providing technical assistance to support test administration and creating training opportunities to increase assessment literacy across our state.
The Division of Career, Technical and Adult Education provides professional development, technical assistance and program expertise to instructors and administrators for Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE), Career and Technical Education (CTE), High School Equivalency (HSE), and Veteran's Education/State Approving Agency (SAA).
The Accreditation and Educator Preparation Division ensures accountability with state school accreditation requirements. The Division provides evidence of effectiveness and student performance through data collection, analysis and reporting, and promotes educator growth through reflective practice by delivering professional learning and technical assistance.
The Educational Opportunity and Equity Division provides school support to ensure that all Montana students are receiving a quality public education. They oversee many of the federal Title programs which assist at-risk students and schools with school improvement efforts.
The Indian Education Division is composed of the Indian Education for All Unit and the Indian Student Achievement Unit. The goal of the Division is to assist in the successful implementation of the Indian Education for All Act (MCA 20-1-501) and to work to close the achievement gap for American Indian students in Montana. Implementation of Indian Education for All is achieved through professional development, grants to local schools, funding to regional education providers and other partners, and through the development and publication of materials and resources for K-12 public schools.
The Student Support Services Division includes Special Education, Gifted and Talented Education, and Early Childhood Education. It has responsibility for assuring that all children receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Division staff provide training, technical assistance and monitor special education services provided by public schools and state-operated programs. The Division is also responsible for managing the flow of state and federal dollars for special education programs.
School Finance is responsible for all aspects of state entitlement funding to districts in compliance with the formulas set by law. This includes state distribution to schools, accounting and financial reporting, budget, training and technical assistance, legislative and federal fiscal reporting, audit monitoring, federal Impact Aid, enrollment, tuition, and pupil transportation.
The Human Resources Division has the responsibility of covering the development and maintenance of employment policies, procedures and the provision for a range of services to managers and individual staff members. Some of these services include recruitment and selection, and personnel administration.
The Centralized Services Division provides accounting, budgeting, payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash management, financial reporting, purchasing, mail, receptionist and word processing services to other OPI divisions. This division is also responsible for the distribution and fiscal monitoring of state and federal grant programs administered by the OPI to local education agencies.
The Legal Division of the Montana Office of Public Instruction provides legal services to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the agency. Please note that the Legal Division does not provide legal services to the general public. The Legal Division also includes educator licensure.
The Information Technology Division designs and supports the computer systems used by the OPI to conduct daily operations. The Division funds the licenses and maintenance contracts for hardware and software maintained by the OPI, provides IT-related training to employees, and ensures that all OPI systems are protected in the event of a disaster.