In Montana, American Indian student enrollment is 12 times the national average and nearly 85 percent of the districts are rural. Technical assistance is essential for ensuring the state’s 824 public schools have what they need to serve all students equitably. The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) has identified the following high-priority areas for NWCC support:
Implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan
NWCC is helping ensure successful implementation of Montana’s ESSA plan by supporting systemic alignment with state policies and regulations. Assistance includes a review of Montana’s education laws and regulations, such as the standards of accreditation, and supporting stakeholders in structuring what could be a lengthy revision. The project is meant to help reduce administrative burden on schools and clarify the essential elements of school quality to support flexibility and innovation.
Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Student Supports
OPI has requested NWCC’s capacity-building support as it works to improve the operational efficiency and effectiveness of Montana’s student support services. Specifically, NWCC is assisting in the development of a protocol to guide reviews of student support services in areas including early education, special education, and gift and talented. In addition, NWCC will help OPI develop recommendations from analyses of existing services and their impacts on students to further facilitate effectiveness and efficiency.
Serving American Indian and Alaska Native Students
Working with OPI and the Northwest’s four other state education agencies (SEAs), we provide capacity-building support to meet the educational needs and support the strengths of Native students. We do this by facilitating a professional learning network among the SEAs’ Indian education coordinators so that they can share resources, promising practices, and lessons learned. In addition, we provide technical assistance to individual SEAs through state-level projects with regional impacts. For example, NWCC helped facilitate a cross-agency task force focused on improving how OPI supports districts and schools serving American Indian students.
Networking for Rural Innovation and Support
In 2013, NWCC and our partners at Boston College created an educator network. The goal: Reduce isolation by connecting educators from some of the region’s most rural and remote districts. Today, the Northwest Rural Innovation and Student Engagement (NW RISE) Network convenes teachers and leaders from more than 30 districts in five Northwest states (including three districts in Montana), along with SEA staff members, to collectively improve student outcomes and engagement across the region.