Office of the Superintendent


Letter to Montana Educators from the State Superintendent

Sunday, May 1, 2011, 9:36 pm

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau sent the following letter to Montana educators on April 26, 2011.

Montana School Administrators and Educators,

I'm writing to let you know about important advocacy work the Office of Public Instruction is doing to represent your schools and communities.  First, please know that the OPI legislative team has been hard at work during this 62nd legislative session.  Upon completion of this final legislative week, we will send an official email to all of you that summarize the actions.

On the federal front, I know the Montana education community is aware that we are now following the educational priorities of two very different federal administrations while we wait for Congress to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  This split in priorities results in additional data collection burden, added work for staff and uncertainty about accountability measures for federal dollars.

First, given the divergent federal paths we are currently following, it is important to hold the line during the transition from one accountability system to another.  It is important not to penalize our schools while we wait for overdue congressional action, and instead, provide a stable accountability measure for our schools.

Therefore, I wrote to Secretary Duncan at the U.S. Department of Education to explain that I am delaying the scheduled increase of the Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) this year.  Our current AMOs of 83 percent for reading and 68 percent for mathematics certainly provide high learning targets for measuring Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).  Montana will maintain these AMOs for the 2010-11 school year while we wait for the certain change in AYP and accountability systems under a reauthorized ESEA.

See AMO letter here:  http://opi.mt.gov/PDF/Supt/Duncan_ltr.pdf

I also sent a second letter to Sec. Duncan expressing my concerns about new reporting requirements for State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) Teacher and Principal Evaluation data that are only now being communicated from the U.S. Department of Education (USED) to state education agencies.  In the first regulations under SFSF, only schools having an overall performance rating or levels in their teacher and principal evaluation system were required to report that data to the state education agency and publicly post that information.  OPI did survey every school to determine which schools have evaluation systems and, of those evaluation systems, which ones have a performance level or rating as a part of their evaluations.  This spring, OPI is conducting a follow-up survey of those schools that indicated such a rating system as required by the SFSF regulations.

According to the latest version of the EDEN reporting requirements, states are now expected to identify the number of teachers in each school and district that received evaluations.  Last fall, my office told you that we would collect follow-up information only from those school districts that had an overall performance rating per the federal regulations at that time.  Under the more recent EDEN requirements, we would need to collect data from all school districts on the number of teachers and principals evaluated.

These new data requests are being made more than 12 months after the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) Assurances and Indicators were finalized and our 2010-11 state data collection completed.   Therefore, I notified USED that I intend to honor the statements that my office made to school districts last fall concerning this data collection.  We will report information on the Assurances and Indicators as we committed to do in Montana's SFSF, Phase II application.  However, my office will not be asking school districts to submit additional information on the numbers of teachers and principals that were evaluated in the 2010-11 school year per a request that was established 12 months after the first collection.

To see this notification letter:  http://www.opi.mt.gov/PDF/Supt/2011-04-27_Arne_Dunan_ltr.pdf

Thank you for the work that all of you do to create a brighter future for our children.  As always, feel free to contact me with your thoughts on how we can continue to improve the educational outcomes of our students and how I can best represent the interests of Montana schools.

Sincerely,

Denise Juneau
Superintendent of Public Instruction
OPISupt@mt.gov

For more information, contact Denise Juneau, 406-444-5658