The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) Assessment Unit supports teaching and learning in Montana’s accredited schools through the Montana Comprehensive Assessment System (MontCAS), which includes a suite of required state assessments aligned to Montana’s academic content standards. Data literacy and its direct influence in guiding instruction, alongside a balanced approach including the use of formative and interim strategies ensures all children have fair and equitable opportunities to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging academic content standards. The Assessment Unit is organized under the leadership of Chief Program Officer Dr. Julie Murgel in the Education Services Division within the Teaching and Learning Department. The Teaching and Learning Department is led by Senior Manager Chris Noel. 

 

We are here to help. Contact us.

Assessment Help Desk: 1-844-867-2569

 

Ashley McGrath

 Ashley McGrath

Assessment Director


Ms. McGrath is a former high school science educator with a passion for education and assessment. She has been at the OPI since 2012 and in the role of State Assessment Director since 2018. She has a passion for providing high-quality technical assistance and professional learning to enhance teaching and learning and to support schools using Montana’s balanced assessment systems.  

Programs: MontCAS Policies and State Testing Procedures

Marcy Fortner

 Marcy Fortner

Assessment Specialist


Ms. Fortner has been with the OPI in the Assessment Unit since 2016 and brings experience from a varied background of work history. She works closely with Montana’s System Test Coordinators to provide assistance with the state assessments and to ensure proper test security across the state. She also serves as the assessment specialist for the ACT with Writing as of the 2020-2021 school year.

Programs: MontCAS Application and ACT with Writing

Shantel Niederstadt

 Shantel Niederstadt

NAEP State Coordinator


Ms. Niederstadt has taught for more than 20 years in elementary education. Most of her experience was teaching in the classroom but has had the opportunity to work as a Title 1 Coordinator. Her teaching experience has helped her become familiar with state and district assessments. She has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Teaching and has worked at OPI since September 2018.

Programs: National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)


Austin Waldbillig

Assessment Specialist


Mr. Waldbillig is a native of Philipsburg, Montana and taught high school English for three years in Baker, MT and one year in East Helena, MT. He received his B.A. in English from Montana State University and is currently finishing his M. Ed. In Reading from Montana State University-Billings. He looks forward to sharing his teaching and learning experience in his service as the Math and ELA Assessment Specialist.

Programs: ELA/Math assessments (Smarter Balanced and Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA))

Jacob Barto

 Jacob Barto

Assessment Specialist


Dr. Barto is a former university lecturer with a broad interest in language acquisition and culture. He joined the OPI in 2020 to coordinate the state’s program for English language proficiency assessments. He hopes that in this role he can build strong and lasting relationships with educators around the state to empower students to unlock all the possibilities that their language skills can open for them.

Programs: WIDA Screeners and ACCESS for ELLs (NAEP)

Katie Murnion

 Katie Murnion

Assessment Specialist


Ms. Murnion has taught science in the state of Montana for over 4 years. She has experience teaching a wide range of grades and topics, from 7th grade life science to 12th grade physics. She has a passion for science with a degree in Microbiology and a degree in Secondary Science Education from the University of Montana. She joined the OPI in 2021 and is excited to lend her science education expertise to the development and delivery of Montana's science assessments.

Programs: Montana Science Assessment (MSA) and Alternate Science (AMSA)