Become a Renewal Unit Provider

Schools are encouraged to be Renewal Unit Providers as the bulk of educator professional learning occurs in the school setting. Schools are also able to issue renewal unit certificates for professional learning that occurred external to the school environment if the organization that provided the professional learning is not an existing renewal unit provider AND if the professional learning opportunity meets the Administrative Rules of Montana related to Professional Development.

How to Apply - Approval to Offer Renewal Units for Multiple Events

 

Please complete the following steps to apply to become an Approved Renewal Unit Provider for Multiple Events:

 

  1. Check to make sure your school is not an Approved Renewal Unit Provider already by checking the OPI Renewal Unit Provider Directory. It is possible that someone within your organization has already applied before and you are simply unaware of the existing approval.
  2. If your school is not an existing Approve Renewal Unit Provider, please fill out the Registration form on the Renewal Unit Provider System.
  3. OPI Professional Learning staff (OPIRUPS@mt.gov) will notify you of the status of your application within seven business days. If approved, OPI Professional Learning staff will provide you with log-in information and instructions for using the Renewal Unit Provider System.  

 


Your Responsibility as an Approved Renewal Unit Provider

Please review the following documents for more information:

Choosing Professional Learning for Your District and School

The professional learning for your school should match the priorities outlined in the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP). Many of the priorities identified may require coordination with professional learning providers outside of your district. The Office of Public Instruction is committed to offering multiple, high-quality professional learning opportunities that are equitably accessible to all Montana educators.

 

OPI Learning Opportunities Portal

 

The OPI Learning Opportunities Portal shares information about the professional learning opportunities happening across the state from the OPI and Montana's many other professional learning providers. A calendar is available for any opportunities that are date-based, and a catalog is available for any opportunities that are self-paced or available by contracting directly with a provider.

 

Teacher Learning Hub

 

The OPI Teacher Learning Hub is a free, online learning platform that provides over 125 courses for Montana's educators and school personnel. There are courses in most subject areas and other specific topics, such as mental health and behavior, instructional strategies, and school issues and administration. If you are considering using the Teacher Learning Hub as a part of your PIR days, we recommend reviewing Information for School Administrators.

Funding Considerations

While some professional learning is free, many opportunities are not. Depending on your professional learning goals, you may consider applying for funding to support your professional learning plan. The following webpages provide guidance on funding professional development.

Title II, Part A grants support the implementation of high-quality, personalized, evidence-based professional learning for teachers, paraprofessionals, instructional leadership teams, principals, or other school leaders that is focused on improving teacher and student learning. The professional learning should be sustained, personalized, and job-embedded rather than stand-alone, one-day, or short-term professional learning. Specific information related to the allowable use of funds can be found in the Montana Title II-A Guidance document.

Title IV, Part A grants are intended to improve students' academic achievement by increasing the capacity of state education agencies, local education agencies, and local communities to provide all students with access to a well-rounded education.  The grants may be used to improve school conditions for student learning and to improve the use of technology as it relates to student academic achievement and digital literacy.  School climate and safety are priorities in Montana.  Specific information related to the allowable use of funds can be found in the OPI's Title IV Part A Fact Sheet.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Evidence-Based Practices in Professional Learning

It is important to provide professional learning that results in improved student outcomes. While there has been a shift toward evidence-based strategies used in the classroom, there has been less of a shift to implement evidence-based professional learning for educators. The following resources can help clarify what practices are considered evidence-based for professional learning.

 

 

Guidelines and Standards for Professional Learning

Professional learning for educators in the state of Montana should follow certain guidelines and standards.  The guidance and standards below can help administrators with professional learning requirements. 


Federal Definition of Professional Learning

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) § 8101(42) defines "professional development," specifically noting that professional development activities are to be "sustained (not stand-alone, 1-day, or short term workshops), intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data-driven, and classroom-focused..." (ESEA § 8101(42), pg. 401).


Administrative Rules of Montana

There are a number of Administrative Rules of Montana (ARMs) that guide professional learning for education-related personnel, including:

 

  • ARM 10.16.3135 Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPDs) - CSPD is a regionalized structure that provides special education-related professional learning for pre-service and in-service educators, administrators, and paraprofessionals.

  • ARM 10.55.601 Accreditation Standards: Procedures - Continuous School Improvement Plans (CSIPs) are developed, implemented, and evaluated yearly by school districts and schools.  The CSIPs include a professional development planning component.

  • ARM 10.55.714 Professional Development - The Professional Development ARM specifies the standards that professional development opportunities must meet.

  • ARM 10.57.215 Renewal Requirements - The activities that are eligible for renewal units are professional development activities and college credits that are of a planned and structured experience and an activity that provides "exposure to a new idea or skill or an extension of an existing idea or skill."

  • ARM 10.57.216 Approved Renewal Activity - Approved renewal unit providers must offer activities that are "deemed appropriate for professional development of licensees in compliance with ARM 10.55.714 and 10.57.215."

Other ARMs address professional learning requirements for specific licenses and endorsements. Additional resources related to licensure can be found on the Montana Educator Licensing website.


Standards

Learning Forward's Standards for Professional Learning "outline the characteristics of professional learning that leads to effective teaching practice, supportive leadership, and improved student results" (2017).  The standards include:

 

  • Learning Communities - "Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students occurs within learning communities committed to continuous improvement, collective responsibility, and goal alignment."

  • Leadership - "Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students requires skillful leaders who develop capacity, advocate, and create support systems for professional learning."

  • Resources - "Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students requires prioritizing, monitoring, and coordinating resources for educator learning."

  • Data - "Professional Learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students uses a variety of sources and types of student, educator, and system data to plan, assess, and evaluate professional learning."

  • Learning Designs - "Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students integrates theories, research, and models of human learning to achieve its intended outcomes."

  • Implementation - "Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students applies research on change and sustains support for implementation of professional learning for long term change."

  • Outcomes - "Professional learning that increases educator effectiveness and results for all students aligns its outcomes with educator performance and student curriculum standards."

Login to the Renewal Unit Provider System

 

Known System Issues

Blank Certificates - On occasion, providers will press "Print Certificate" and the certificate will be blank. This can be fixed by choosing your provider name again from the dropdown in "Events" and then pressing "Print Certificate." 
 
Provider Dropdown on Events Tab

User Tutorials

Important System Update Video - 10.14.20

 

 

 

Renewal Unit Provider System User Manual (opens in new window)

Topics include: Administrative Rules of Montana, Accessing RUPS, Changing your Password, Reporting Events, Issuing Certificates, Revising Existing Events, Managing Usernames and Account Access, and Special Considerations for Continuously Available Asynchronous Renewal Unit Activities and Virtual Conferences. 

 

 

Username and Password Tips

  • Reset a forgotten password
  • If you forget your username, it's most likely the user's first initial and last name (i.e. John Doe would be JDoe).
  • If your email address has changed, please email us at OPIRUPS@mt.gov so we can update it properly. 

Adding More Accounts or Updating Accounts

Is your organization already a registered provider, but you need to change the name of your provider account manager?  Request access to an existing renewal provider account by emailing OPIRUPS@mt.gov with the following information - name of organization, your full name, phone number & email.

 

Micro-Credentials Defined

Micro-credentials are based upon skills and/or competencies outlined by the micro-credentialing issuer. The micro-credential is awarded upon verification that the participant has demonstrated the skills and/or competencies necessary to earn the micro-credential. The micro-credential is "micro" because it generally takes less time and money to earn a micro-credential when compared to the time and money it takes to earn a traditional degree. Educators who engage in micro-credentialing often provide the micro-credential issuer with artifacts, such as student work samples, lesson plans, and videos, that demonstrate their competencies and skills related to the micro-credential topic.


It's More Than a Badge

Digital badges have been awarded for many years upon completion of an activity. For example, people who have engaged in online learning may be familiar with the concept of earning a badge after completing a module of learning. While micro-credentials often use digital badges, the badges are not simply provided upon completion of a unit of study or after a certain amount of time has passed; instead, the digital badge is awarded after the participant has demonstrated their ability to perform the skills and/or competencies required of the micro-credential. The digital badge can then become a part of the participant's "learner record," similar to a visual resume, that provides specific information regarding the micro-credential, the issuer of the micro-credential, and other important metadata. Therefore, the digital badge is more than an image, and the participant's credentials can be easily verified through the metadata stored within the badge.


Consider Your District's Policies

Districts are able to develop policies related to micro-credentials and how they factor into salary negotiation and collective bargaining agreements. The Office of Public Instruction does not presently accept micro-credentials as renewal units for re-licensure.  However, individual professional development opportunities that are built within micro-credential frameworks may be eligible for renewal units if the provider is an approved renewal unit provider and the event aligns with the Administrative Rules of Montana.

 

The National Education Association (NEA) has published Micro-credential Guidance to provide considerations for collective bargaining agreements.  In addition, Digital Promise has developed a Micro-credential Policy Map that examines micro-credentials for educators at various levels: higher education, state-level, district-level, and the educator level.


Resources

 

There are numerous micro-credential providers. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, and educators should always work with district personnel regarding any approval processes related to micro-credentials.

 

  • BloomBoard - BloomBoard is a platform used for micro-credentials and micro-certification.  BloomBoard’s competencies have been aligned with InTASC and PSEL standards. BloomBoard also offers a pre-candidacy support program for educators seeking National Board Certification. Other categories include Classroom Management, School Climate, Student Engagement, and 21st-Century Skills.

  • Digital Promise - Digital Promise, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit, is working to close the digital learning gap.  They have developed micro-credentials for educators by partnering with well-known educational experts.  Micro-credentials are available in nearly 100 categories, including Collective Leadership, Service Learning, and Teaching Rural Students from Poverty.  Some micro-credentials are free, and some are not.

  • National Education Association Micro-Credentials (NEA) - The NEA has developed personalized, flexible, and job-embedded competencies in many categories, such as Bully Free Schools, Educators Ethics, Effective Paraeducator-Teacher Teams, Instructional Coaching, Restorative Practices, and ESSA, just to name a few.  The micro-credentials are free.

  • PBS Media Literacy Educator Certification - PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) has developed a media literacy micro-credential that is free for educators.  Earning the eight micro-credentials allows educators to become PBS Certified Media Literacy Educators. 

National Board Teacher Stipend Program

Montana provides a state stipend to teachers who receive National Board Certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). The current program was enacted into law by the 2017 Montana legislature. 

Since the legislation was partially aimed at helping the recruitment and retention of teachers at impacted schools, the stipend amount is higher for teachers at schools with critical educator shortages and those schools who qualify for school wide free and reduced lunch. 

More information about the National Board Teacher Stipend Program can be found on the Educator Recruitment & Retention website.

Professional Learning Planning Resources for District Leaders

Districtwide and/or schoolwide planning for professional learning is addressed in the Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM), specific state and federal grant programs, and Montana's Consolidated State Plan Under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The following guidelines and statutes clarify the responsibilities of administrators in the planning process:

 

  • ARM 10.55.714 Professional Development - "The local board of trustees shall establish an advisory committee [consisting of trustees, administrators, and teachers, with the majority of the committee being teachers] to evaluate the school district's current school year professional development plan; and develop and recommend a plan for the subsequent school year."

  • ARM 10.55.601 Continuous Improvement - "The school district and each of its schools shall develop, implement, and evaluate continuous school improvement plans and make the plans available to the public." The plan shall include a professional development component amongst other requirements.

  • Specific federal and state grant programs 

  • The Every Student Succeeds Act 

Creating Professional Learning Plans

A comprehensive professional learning plan contains many components. Learning Forward has developed a workbook to help districts and schools isolate needs and develop short- and long-term professional learning plans.


Funding Considerations

While some professional learning is free, many opportunities are not. Depending on your professional learning goals, you may consider applying for funding to support your professional learning plan. The following webpages provide guidance on funding professional development.

Title II, Part A grants support the implementation of high-quality, personalized, evidence-based professional learning for teachers, paraprofessionals, instructional leadership teams, principals, or other school leaders that is focused on improving teacher and student learning. The professional learning should be sustained, personalized, and job-embedded rather than stand-alone, one-day, or short-term professional learning. Specific information related to the allowable use of funds can be found in the Montana Title II-A Guidance document.

Title IV, Part A grants are intended to improve students' academic achievement by increasing the capacity of state education agencies, local education agencies, and local communities to provide all students with access to a well-rounded education.  The grants may be used to improve school conditions for student learning and to improve the use of technology as it relates to student academic achievement and digital literacy.  School climate and safety are priorities in Montana.  Specific information related to the allowable use of funds can be found in the OPI's Title IV Part A Fact Sheet.

Professional Learning Provider Insider Newsletter

The Professional Learning Provider (PLP) Insider is a monthly newsletter sent to professional learning providers, county superintendents, district superintendents, curriculum directors, and others interested in receiving the newsletter. The newsletter focuses on best practices in professional learning, updates from the OPI, and the latest research and evidence related to the professional learning of school personnel.

 

To receive the PLP Insider monthly newsletter, visit OPI Email Updates, enter your email address, and select "Professional Learning Provider Insider."

Past Editions

The Professional Learning Provider Network Collaborative

On the third Tuesday of each month from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m., the OPI will host a call for education-related providers in the state of Montana. 

The following links contain calendar invites that provide the information on how to log-in to the call.

You can also connect using the Zoom link or by calling 1-720-707-2699 and entering in access code 454 817 432 when prompted.

Teacher Learning Hub Specifics

We have compiled information and resources for administrators to help with the integration of the Teacher Learning Hub in professional development planning.  If you are considering using the Teacher Learning Hub as a part of your PIR days, we recommend reviewing Information for School Administrators.


2020-2021 Facilitated Calendar

In an effort to better facilitate your 2020-2021 professional development planning, the OPI Teacher Learning Hub is excited to announce our 2020-2021 Facilitated Course Calendar!  We know districts are developing their professional development plans for the 2020-2021 school year in accordance with Administrative Rule 10.55.714, and we wanted to be sure to release our calendar while your teams are still in the planning stages. We realize that every district has different capacities and needs related to professional learning, and therefore, we offer a variety of facilitated courses in various content areas to ensure that districts and teachers are able to choose the courses that best fit their unique needs.

The Hub’s facilitated online courses are free, intensive, research and evidence-based, and promote continuous inquiry and improvement. We have offerings for math, science, writing, technology, paraeducators, and first-year teachers.

2020-2021 Facilitated Calendar


Request a District-Directed Session

While participants may sign up for courses individually, we are excited to announce that schools may also request district-directed facilitated courses by signing up using this form. Please give us at least 6 weeks notice in order to plan the logistics.

Request a District-Directed Session


Additional Offerings, Including Self-Paced Courses

We also offer a variety of self-paced courses that can be included in your planning.  All Hub course participants have access to content experts and on-demand tech support.

Entire Course Catalog


 

Ideas for Integrating the Hub with Your District's Professional Development Planning

  • PIR Days - Align your PIR days for time to discuss the course in-person and for teachers to talk about the implementation of new strategies learned during the course. Continue to discuss the strategies and the implementation at meetings throughout the year.
  • Professional Learning Communities - Have teachers take the course of their choice and then group the teachers together by their choice upon completion.
  • Teacher-Leaders - Help to develop the teacher-leaders in your school/district by planning professional development that blends face-to-face meetings with online facilitated and self-paced courses. Teacher-Leaders can create face-to-face meetings and provide guidance to others. 
  • Student Achievement Data - Invite teachers to analyze their student achievement data and select the courses that are aligned with areas of improvement. After educators have taken the courses and implemented strategies, have the educators compare the data before the course and after the implementation of the strategies learned.
  • Vertical Teaming - Have teachers all take the same course or by grade band, then meet with multiple grade levels to discuss what this looks like from grade to grade and create a coherent scaffolded curriculum. Grade band examples:

 

Additional OPI Resources

We make every attempt to list all professional learning opportunities for educators on the OPI Learning Opportunities Portal. The following webpages also contain additional professional learning opportunities that you may be interested in!
 

Frequently Asked Questions


 


We're here to help!

For questions related to professional learning, please contact:

Carli Cockrell, Professional Learning Coordinator, 406-444-0769.

For questions related to renewal units, please email OPIRUPS@mt.gov.