P.O. Box 202501 • Helena, MT 59620-2501
Putting Montana Students First
This page has been created to provide information for parents and family members about ways to get involved in the education and assessment of their child. The resources listed here are selected to assist parents and students with their assessment-related needs. For news and announcements, be sure to sign up for news from the Office of Public Instruction's Communications Division.
Montana school districts are required to provide parents/guardians with notice regarding student participation in state assessments at the beginning of each school year [or in a timely manner] before testing windows open. Montana does not have an “opt out” law and within the federally recognized accountability and reporting procedures, the only recognized reasons for non-participation are for medical exemption. For more information on this state policy, visit the Parent Right to Know Guidance.
When a student cannot be tested at any time throughout the Published Test Windows they are counted as a non-participant unless the reason is due to a significant medical emergency (e.g., a student is hospitalized due to an accident). In Montana, there is no “opt out” law, and state law requires all students in public and accredited non-public schools to participate in state testing. Therefore, in accordance with ESEA-ESSA Section 1112(e)(1)(B)(ii), parents may refuse to have their child participate in state assessments, but the parent refusal will count negatively against the school’s participation rate within the accountability process. The MontCAS Policies and Procedures for Participation in State Assessments explains the state participation policies and procedures to register and include students in each of the state assessments.
Federal Requirement: provide parents with transparency on testing including participation requirements, time requirements, and information available from the assessments in a timely manner (ESSA Section 1112).
State Requirement: notify parents using OPI guidance on the assessment purpose, requirement, and individual student performance including how these data will be used (ARM 10.56.102(6)).
Montana school districts are required to provide parents/guardians with individual student reports in a timely manner. To understand and address the specific academic needs of students, it is required under state and federal law to provide individual student interpretive, descriptive, and diagnostic reports regarding achievement. This allows families, teachers, and other school leaders to address individual student needs regarding student proficiency and progress as soon as is practicable after the assessment is given.
Federal Requirement: provide timely individual student reports to parents, teachers, and principals and include the results on local report cards (ESSA Section 1111).
State Requirement: statewide assessment public results must include a clear statement of the purpose, subject areas assessed, description of proficiency levels, and the percentage of students who participated in the assessments (ARM 10.56.105(2)) and (§20-7-104, MCA). School districts must also place individual student reports in the student’s cumulative file per ARM 10.55.909.
Smarter Balanced is the general math and reading/language arts assessment for academic achievement reporting in Grades 3–8.
The ACT with Writing is the general math, reading/language arts, and science assessment for academic achievement reporting in Grade 11.
The Montana Science Assessment is the general science assessment for academic achievement reporting in Grades 5 and 8.
The Multi-State Alternate Assessment is the alternate math and reading/language arts assessment for academic achievement reporting in Grades 3–8 and 11 for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
The Alternate Montana Science Assessment is the alternate science assessment for academic achievement reporting in Grades 5, 8, and 11 for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
The ACCESS for ELLs and WIDA Screener is the English Language Proficiency assessment for academic achievement reporting for English Learners (EL) in Grades K–12.
To see how schools are performing over time and compared to other schools in Montana, visit Montana’s longitudinal data warehouse (GEMS). Official state-level results for the public are released in the fall on an annual basis after presentation to the Montana Board of Public Education.
Six Things Stakeholders Should Know About Participation and Testing in Montana: The purpose of this document is to ensure that readers are aware of the significant value to stakeholders (e.g., students, parents/guardians, teachers, school leaders, and others) of the information derived from participating in state-level tests. Figure 1 in the guide depicts the average testing times for math, reading/language arts, and science students.
Questions about the data use and reporting for statewide assessments? Contact the OPI Assessment Help Desk at 1.844.867.2569, or email us at OPIAssessmentHelpDesk@mt.gov.
OPI Assessment Help Desk, 844-867-2569