ESSA Update

February 12, 2020


Dear Partners in Education,

Please see the three items below relevant to ESSA that are taking place in the month of February.

1.Annual Accountability Designations based on the 2018-2019 data will be determined in February 2020:

Montana's system of differentiation under ESSA uses four federally required indicators plus Montana's own fifth indicator to identify schools as either Comprehensive, Targeted, or Universal. This system focuses on providing supports where they are needed most. These first four indicators are important foundational measurements for schools and make up most of the accountability system.

1-4 Federally Required Indicators

  • Academic Achievement on Statewide Assessments: ELA/Reading & Math
  • Academic Growth on Statewide Assessments ELA/Reading & Math (K-8 Only)
  • English Learner Progress
  • Graduation Rates (HS only)
  • Attendance
  • College & Career Ready (HS Only)
  • CRT Science Assessment (2016-2017)

5th Indicator for Montana Flexibility

Comprehensive: Schools meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • are in the lowest performing 5% of all Title I schools in the state;
  • have a high school graduation rate of less than 67%; and/or
  • have consistently underperforming subgroups.

Every three years, the OPI will identify Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) schools.The next 3-year identification for CSI will begin with school year 2021-2022.

Targeted: The school has any student group performing in the lowest 5% of all Montana schools. The OPI will identify targeted schools for comprehensive support and improvement if these schools have not increased the performance of all student subgroups to exceed the level of performance of the lowest performing 5 percent of Title I schools overall after three years of additional targeted support.

Universal:Schools do not perform in the bottom 5 percent on statewide assessments and have a graduation rate above 67 percent.

2.Report Cards

As part of ESSA, the OPI shares state, district, and school report cards every year. The report cards give a measure of how Montana's schools are performing in a concise, understandable, and accessible way.

The report cards for 2018-2019 will be released in March 2020 and enhanced with information about how much each district and school spends per pupil.


OPI’s schedule: 

Timeframe Project Milestone
February 3 - 28, 2020 OPI determines the school accountability designations to meaningfully differentiate schools
February 28, 2020 OPI shares information with schools, including the school's support status
February 29 – March 13, 2020 Schools review the OPI’s information and determination of support status
March 16, 2020 Report Card final and ready to view in GEMS on March 16, 2020, including the school’s support status, Per-Pupil Expenditures, and Montana University System enrollments


3. Status on the Amendment Process for the Montana State Plan, 5th Indicator:



Research within the Agency

60 days

Collaborate with our Partners in Education Consultation with Governor

Open for Public Comment

30 days

Finalize and present to Superintendent

Summit to DOE

(90 days response time)

5th Indicator Jan - Feb 2020 Feb - March 2020 April 2020 April 2020 May 2020 May 2020


Areas being Reviewed during the Research Phase (60 days)

  1. School Climate Survey: Which types of measures related to school climate to use, how those measures could be used, and important factors to consider in the process.

•             reviewing reliable and valid survey tools,

•             the benefits and challenges of using a measurement in the accountability system, and

•             the purposes for which different measures may be appropriate to use.

 “School climate is defined by the National School Climate Council (NSCC) as “based on patterns of students’, [families’], and school personnel’s experiences of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures.” Essential elements of school climate (sometimes referred to as school culture) that have been identified in the literature include emotional and physical safety, relationships, teaching and learning, sense of belonging, and institutional environment.”

2019 by CCSSO. Measuring School Climate and Social and Emotional Learning and Development: A Navigation Guide for States and Districts is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

  1. College & Career Readiness Measurements:  Processes and structures to gather and analyze data for all 4 criteria identified.
College & Career Readiness Measurements
Montana Flexibility Indicator 5








Satisfactory Attendance 20 points

15 points

20 points 15 points

College and Career Ready Percentage of Grade 12 students determined to be college and/or career ready, met by students meeting one or more of the following criteria:

  • College-ready benchmark on ACT composite according to the Montana University System
  • Concentrator in a Career and Technical Education pathway, or
  • Completion (with passing grade) of a dual enrollment course, AP, or IB as data is available
  • Military ready indicator once data is available 



N/A 15 points
STEM Indicator: Proficiency on statewide science assessment

0 points

New science assessment under


N/A 10 points New science assessment N/A
School Survey of program quality indicators for improving school climate, reducing behavior issues, and increasing engagement

0 points



0 points 5 points 5 points

    For more information, contact Julie Murgel, 406-444-3172