Gifted Education in Montana Rule and Law
In the School Laws of Montana, §20-7-901, Montana Code Annotated (MCA), high ability/high potential students are defined as children with capabilities that "require differentiated educational programs beyond those normally offered in public schools in order to fully achieve their potential contribution to self and society." Montana's Standards of Accreditation, require each school district to provide educational services to high ability/high potential students commensurate with their needs as outlined in a comprehensive district framework for gifted education - Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) 10.55.804.
Please see the new legislation regarding Gifted Education in Montana - MCA 20-7-902. Please see our Programming page for more information and resources.
Montana Code Annotated (§20-7-901 through 904 MCA)
Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM 10.55.804)
Framework for GT Plans
Serving Montana's High Ability/High Potential Students (Planning Guide and Strategies)
In the twenty-first century, students come to school with many needs. In this era of ensuring that all students are supported in meeting core standards, schools must also support students who are highly abled and show high potential for excellence in school and in life.
Enrichment alone is not a gifted program, and all gifted learners are not the same. All learners deserve and need an enriched school experience. Identified gifted students need specific interventions that provide high quality, rigorous, and appropriate challenges in their regular classroom throughout their K-12 educational experience to grow and thrive.
Educators can use the Gifted Education Training Site and/or Montana's Gifted Education Planning Guide to find research-based best practices in gifted education.
Set up a quality program to meet the needs of all students.
- Program and Student Success Checklist
- Montana Advanced Learning Plan
- Montana Program Planning Template
Some school districts may be able to employ a gifted education specialist, but this may not be feasible for many districts. Alternative strategies include sharing a gifted education specialist among several schools or contracting with a gifted education specialist for specific services including high quality professional development. The OPI's Gifted Education Training Site and Planning Guide outlines a number of classroom strategies as part of Montana's Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS). This process is useful in planning and managing instruction for gifted and advanced students.
Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) for Gifted and Advanced Learners
Tier 1 refers to classroom instruction for all students that utilizes evidenced-based materials and practices to teach core subject areas such as reading, written expression, and math.
The most important Tier 1 strategy for gifted and advanced learners is differentiated instruction that usually occurs in flexible small groups within the regular classroom or regular instructional time. The key principles of differentiated instruction are:
- Student-centered instructional practices and materials are standards-based and grounded in research
- Instruction has clear objectives with focused activities to reach the objectives.
- Assessment results are used to shape future instructional decisions
- Students have multiple avenues to show mastery of essential content and skills and to demonstrate their learning
- Instructional pacing, depth, and complexity are varied.
Tier 2 refers to evidence based, targeted, supplemental skill-building intervention. In the case of gifted and advanced learners, Tier 2 refers to students who require specific supports in addition to work in the classroom to make adequate progress. This is part of an ongoing decision-making process to determine the effectiveness of interventions and programming options and assessment of learning to meet the needs of students for whom general education Tier 1 strategies do not support adequate progress.
Tier 3 refers to evidence-based intensive targeted interventions for students whose academic and intellectual needs are not being met by Tier 1 or Tier 2 supplemental and/or targeted instruction. Generally, children and adolescents who need this intervention are highly or exceptionally gifted (IQ of 145 or greater). Early speech, reading, and other developmental skills are indicators of a highly gifted child. This small percentage of students require radical acceleration, dual enrollment, early entrance, specialized counseling, long-term mentorships, or participation in a specialized classroom or school for gifted students.
Please see our Gifted & MTSS and Differentiation and Interventions pages for more information.
Need strategies to get started in the classroom? Visit our "Getting Started" list.
Visit the OPI Teacher Learning Hub, and participate in the Introduction to Gifted Students or Introduction to Twice Exceptional Students to learn more about gifted students.
Please visit OPI's Gifted Education Training Site for resources and information regarding how to identify gifted students.
Please see OPI's Characteristics pages for more information regarding the characteristics of gifted learners:
- Types of Gifted Students
- Social Emotional
Resources for Families of Gifted Learners
Parents, grandparents, and other primary caregivers are commonly involved in programs for high ability/high potential learners in several ways.
- offer support and are involved in meaningful ways with their children's education;
- advocate for appropriate placement, curriculum, strategies, and for addressing social/emotional needs; and
- provide context for a learner's specific needs; and volunteer to assist with school programs and classroom needs.
- Profiles of high ability/high potential students
- Social/emotional needs of high ability/high potential students
- Characteristics of high ability/high potential students
- Family engagement with gifted education programs
- "Things My Child Likes To Do" parent assessment
The Gifted and Talented State Grant program provides grant funds for supplemental financial assistance to school districts to strengthen the quality of programs for gifted and talented students. The Gifted and Talented E-Grant is a two year grant. School systems receive state funding to supplement their gifted and talented programs each year, based on their application and the local district gifted and talented education plan required under ARM 10.55.804, with approval based on successful completion of the application. Grants are awarded according to a formula determined by the size and number of applicant school systems, the amount of their matching funds (required by law) and the funds provided to the program by the legislature.
The Gifted and Talented State Grant is administered through an application process through E-Grants.
Please see the Gifted and Talented Funding Flier for ways to use both the Gifted and Talented Grant and Title IV-A funding.
Gifted and Talented State Grant - E-Grants Process
Schools will complete the following in order to receive funding for the grant:
- The Intent to Apply - In order to apply for the Gifted and Talented State Grant, the Intent to Apply needs to be submitted through E-Grants. Districts who submit the Intent to Apply will be included in the allocation based on legislative funding. The Intent to Apply will be opened in March every odd year (ex: 2021, 2023, 2025, etc).
- Gifted and Talented State Grant Application - Needs to be submitted through E-Grants. It will be opened in June every odd year (ex: 2021, 2023, 2025, etc).
- Final Expenditure Report - Will be opened in August at the end of the grant cycle (ex: 2021, 2023, 2025, etc).
- Program Report - Will be opened in August at the end of the grant cycle (ex: 2021, 2023, 2025, etc).
Advanced Placement courses and International Baccalaureate programs offer students an opportunity to experience college-level study while still in high school. Both programs seek to help students develop college-level skills of inquiry and reasoning, statistically increasing students' success in postsecondary study. These programs foster student engagement, develop college/career ready students, and prepare students for success on nationally administered assessments.
Advanced Placement® (AP®)
AP® programs, offer college-level curriculum to high school students. Many Montana high schools offer the courses locally or through the Montana Digital Academy
To read more about AP® visit The College Board.
AP® Test Fee Reduction for Low Income Students
Congress eliminated the federally-funded low-income student test fee reduction program; However, The College board is continuing with a fee reduction for qualifying students.
Montana's AP® Summer Institute (APSI)
This institute seeks to help Montana high schools and teachers implement and build quality AP® programs. Teachers select an AP® subject and study for four days with highly qualified, experienced, College Board endorsed teachers. The Montana Institute takes place the last week in June; registration opens in early January.
International Baccalaureate® (IB®)
IB® programs offer high school degree programs focused on developing the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills to live, learn, and work in a rapidly globalizing world. Currently, three Montana public high schools offer the IB® program: Flathead High School in Kalispell; Hellgate High School, and Big Sky High School, both in Missoula.