Implementation of Chapter 55 - Revised

Monday, December 3, 2012, 8:23 am

Chapter 55 Standards of Accreditation - Revised takes effect July 1, 2013. Preparing for implementation will require time and focus.  The Division of Accreditation and Educator Preparation (AEP) will help you understand the revisions and additions to these rules and how these changes may impact Montana schools.  Beginning this month and each month until July 1, 2013, AEP will provide updates on the progress toward implementation.


For December 2012 AEP focuses on two standards: ARM 10.55.604 Variances to Standards and ARM 10.55.701(4)(a)(b) Evaluation of Teachers and School Administrators. The standards are available at


ARM 10.55.604 Variances to Standards:

The revised ARM 10.55.604 Variances to Standards allows a local board of trustees to apply… for a variance to a standard or a section of standards, excluding standards stating statutory criteria, standards pertaining to educator licensure or endorsement, and content standards.


In its application the local board of trustees will outline how and why its proposed variance is workable, educationally sound, and designed to meet or exceed results under established standards and, where applicable, aligned with program standards under ARM 10.55.1101 through 10.55.1901.


The intention of the revised Variances to Standards is to (1) provide flexibility and innovation to school districts while ensuring education quality and accountability; and (2) create a review board that will make recommendations to the Superintendent for approval, modification or rejection of all variance to standard applications.


These changes will enhance the transparency of the review process and provide school districts with opportunities for optional pathways to meet or exceed the standards.


Variances to Standards – Phase I Implementation January 2014

2013-14 Timeline


January 15                               MEA-MFT, MREA, MSSA, SAM and MTSBA provide to State Superintendent Names of Candidates for Review Board


February 8                               Announce Review Board Appointments


February - March                     Deliver Regional Outreach Presentations and Training


April 4                                     Post Variances to Standards Web Applications and Rubric


April - June                              Deliver Technical Assistance


July 1                                       Variances to Standards Applications Due for January 2014 Implementation


September 12-13                     Board of Public Education (BPE) Action on Variances to Standards Recommendations


September 20                           Notify School Districts of Final BPE Action


September 23 – October 7       Written Appeals Due


October 21                               Final Decisions on Appeals


January 2014                           Implementation of Variances to Standards



OPI Contact

Linda Vrooman Peterson

(406) 444-5726



ARM 10.55.701(4)(a)&(b) Evaluation of Teachers and School Administrators:

The local board of trustees shall have written policies and procedures for regular and periodic evaluation of all regularly employed personnel. The individual evaluated shall have access to a copy of the evaluation instrument, the opportunity to respond in writing to the completed evaluation, and access to his or her files. Personnel files shall be confidential.


The BPE and the Superintendent of Public Instruction directed a work team to develop a model Montana system for the evaluation of teachers and leaders that fosters continuous professional growth, enabling success for all students. The goal of the Evaluation System Work Team is to ensure that by the fall of 2015 all Montana school districts will use either a state or locally developed teacher/leader evaluation system. All evaluation systems will align to the accreditation standards assuring continuous education improvement


Model Montana Evaluation System – Implementation

2013-15 Timeline


Winter/Spring 2013                  Share Draft Evaluation Models with Stakeholder Groups


Winter/Spring 2013                  Call for Volunteer Schools to Pilot Evaluation Models


Spring 2013                             Montana Educators’ Institute – Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Leading in Montana’s Schools

Fall 2013                                 Pilot Schools Begin Using Models


July 2014                                 Models Published in Appendices of the Montana School Accreditation Standards and Procedures Manual


Fall 2014                                 School Districts Determine if Local Evaluation Model Meets the Best Practices as Outlined in the Appendices


July 2015                                 School District Evaluation Systems are Aligned with Best Practices as Identified in the State Model


OPI Contact

Steve York

(406) 444-4434

For more information, contact Linda Vrooman Peterson, (406) 444-5726