What does comprehensive support mean for a school?


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 most needed. 

Montana ESSA Accountability

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)

5th Indicator for Montana Flexibility

  • Attendance
  • College & Career Ready (HS Only)
  • CRT Science Assessment (2016-2017)

Schools identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement 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 schools for comprehensive support and improvement beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. The OPI will use data from the 2016-2017 school year in order to notify schools during the spring of 2018.

How are comprehensive schools being supported?


Schools identified for comprehensive support are working in partnership with the schools, district, and the OPI to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment of both operational (i.e., school board efficiency, school climate, and student engagement) and instructional components (i.e., leadership, professional development, and curriculum and standards).

All schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement are developing and implementing a Continuous School Improvement Plan based on the comprehensive needs assessment.

Specific strategies include:

  • Building community capacity to support kindergarten transitions;
  • Building school board efficiency through a school board coach;
  • Providing wraparound services to students and their families (e.g., mental and physical health services, mentoring);
  • Engaging students in school improvement through youth voice and advocacy work;
  • Supporting culturally responsive practices, particularly for American Indian communities;
  • Implementing systemic literacy and math improvements through specialized instructional personnel including a variety of educators, as well as library media and digital literacy and math specialists; and
  • Use of the Montana Early Warning System to identify students at risk of dropping out of school, apply targeted interventions based on student needs, and track interventions over time to determine if the interventions are  working.

Which schools are identified as comprehensive?

Upcoming Events

Join us for regular "Regional Summit" meetings throughout the 2023-24 school year.

The purpose of ongoing summits is to foster communication and connections between stakeholders at CSI schools. This is also a way to give Tier 2 instruction and guidance while fostering regional relationships. We will be hosting virtual meetings November through March.

The February Regional Summit topic is: Restorative Practices with an Emphasis on Talking Circles. Crystal Hickman will be our guest presenter! Things you can expect to gain from attending this session include:

  • Build relationships and make connections with educators from other districts.

  • Learn about strategies that are working in other schools.

  • Access to expert support in a small group setting.

  • Connect and celebrate with other school leaders.

The meeting will take place on Teams: 

Thursday, March 14th from 10:00-11:30

Please register here to attend the summit.

Please reach out to your School Improvement Regional Lead with any questions.

Contact Information

Lindsay Mahoney, Director of School Improvement Unit, Department of School Innovation & Improvement, 406-444-7728


CSI Regional Map - School Improvement Team Regional Leads

Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA)