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The Great Work of Montana’s Public Schools Vo l u m e I I

October 2014

The c ore purpose of public education in Montana is to fully develop the educational potential of each child served in our public schools.

A joint publication of the following education advocacy groups


We are united by our shared interests in the best interests of students.

Executive Director Montana Association of School Business Officials dwilliams@masbo.com (406) 442-5599



Executive Director School Administrators of Montana samkm@sammt.org (406) 442-2510

President MEA-MFT efeaver@mea-mft.org (406) 442-4250



Executive Director Montana Quality Education Association dburke@mqec.org (406) 449-4594

Executive Director Montana School Boards Association lmelton@mtsba.org (406) 442-2180


Executive Director Montana Rural Education Association dpuyear@mrea-mt.org (406) 443-2626

Introduction and Executive Summary The Montana Association of School Business Officials (MASBO), MEA-MFT, Montana Quality Education Coalition (MQEC), Montana Rural Education Association (MREA), Montana School Boards Association (MTSBA) and School Administrators of Montana (SAM) are proud to collaborate in spreading the word about the Great Work of Montana’s Public Schools.

We have prepared this information for the use of parents, state policymakers, our members and the public at large. Our intent is to identify what we believe be the key characteristics that make our public schools so great. Collectively, we can work to advance, support and preserve these characteristics into the future, not only in the 2015 Legislative Session, but every day in each Montana community!

Learn more at mt-pec.org.



Montana’s public schools are governed by elected trustees

Who governs Montana’s Public Schools? Volunteer leaders elected in each community, over 1,400 people statewide! School board members come from all walks of life and include:

Aunts Uncles Mothers Fathers Friends Neighbors

Bankers Farmers and ranchers CEOs Doctors Builders

Homemakers Nonprofit leaders Healthcare professionals Accountants Lawyers Small business owners Retirees

The one thing that binds this diverse group of volunteer leaders together is their desire to serve their community and help prepare children for a lifetime of success and happiness.


Montana’s public schools are responsive to the needs of each community

Our constitutional founders got it right when they designed the governance of Montana’s public schools. Our school districts are generally supervised by the Board of Public Education and funded by the Legislature, but they are also community owned through elected school boards, which are vested with “supervision and control” of all publiclyfunded K-12 education in Montana.

Additional safeguards employed to ensure each community’s voice in how its schools are governed and run include the constitutional rights of the public to know, influence and participate in the operations and activities of its public schools. These constitutional guarantees afforded Montana citizens cannot be replicated in the private sector and provide an assurance that each community has a voice and a seat at the table when it comes to public education.

Montana voters affirm their belief in the value of community schools, with two-thirds of Montana voters giving their own local community schools a grade of an A or a B.


Montana’s public schools are excellent

Statewide graduation rate is up to

84.4 percent

Montana Public School performance on the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress: Montana’s average 8th grade science score is 163, ranked 1st in the nation


in the na

Montana's high school drop-out rate has declined for the third time in four years, yielding the following benefits to the Montana economy:

Montana’s average 8th grade reading score is 272, ranked 6th in the nation


Montana’s average 8th grade math score is 289, ranked 6th in the nation

Montana’s pu blic school studen ts were found to be th e

4th best in th e worl

Montana public schools had the second best (lowest) white/Hispanic achievement gap in the nation

in science 6th best in the world in math *


Montana public schools had the fifth best (lowest) income- based achievement gap in the nation


*Recent NAEP-TIMSS linking study

million annual boost to Montana’s economy


million home sales

$600,000 automobile sales

High school graduation is important for future successes and for increased earning potential: Additional graduates will likely earn an additional $68.2 million during their lifetime, compared to no high school diploma*. Additional earning equals additional tax revenues and less reliance on public assistance programs. This benefits all citizens! *Alliance for Excellent Education

Montana is one of only 12 states that have accepted the challenge of testing 1 0 0 % of its eligible students on the ACT. The ACT is the predominant test of college readiness used throughout the nation.


ACT average composite score is 20.5 and is only 0.3 off first place Utah at 20.8


First in the nation for percentage of those taking the test that met the reading benchmarks


Third in the nation for percentage of those taking the test that met the mathematics benchmark


Fifth in the nation for percentage of those taking the test that met the science and English benchmarks


Montana’s public schools are efficient

Montana’s public schools

Per Pupil

Expenditures Ranked

Montana’s public schools

Per Graduate



Montana’s costs are:



below national average

Annual Savings of

$123 million

to Montana taxpayers each year compared to national averages

Montana’s public schools

Per Capita

Expenditures Ranked



Montana’s costs are:


below national average

Montana’s costs are:


below national average Graduation represents the universal benchmark for success of K-12 public education and Montana’s public schools produce graduates at a cost lower than all but a handful of states in the nation. *Derived from a combination of graduation rates and per pupil expenditures

School Revenues Ranked


per $1,000 in personal income in the nation

Montana public school administrator staffing is effective and efficient:



➤ per superintendent


per principal


per administrator

per administrator


students (Superintendents and Principals)



Compare t o ot her M ont ana i ndust ri es*:




healthcare ➤ peradministrator

➤ per construction manager 5.6 per manufacturing employees ➤ manager


* U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics/Educational Research Service


Montana’s public schools adapt and innovate to advance student achievement

and innovating

• Proficiency-based learning options, decoupled from seat time requirements, so that students can learn at their own pace and can accelerate the pace of their learning to match their individual capabilities • Four day school weeks in many communities throughout the state that have embraced the concept in collaboration with parents and others in the community • International Baccalaureate programs • Distance learning options through the Montana Digital Academy that fully integrate technology and learning and which provide an expansive breadth of curriculum in all participating public schools while retaining community ownership and local control • Advanced Placement • Dual High School/College Credit • Vocational, computer and business classes in addition to college prep classes • Part time enrollment options for home school students • Credit recovery options for students who have fallen behind

Transparent and trusted Montana’s public schools are trusted as a result of transparency

It is affirming that Montana voters trust local educators the most when it comes to doing what is right academically for children in our public schools. That trust should come as no surprise as it has been hard earned and preserved through the transparency of Montana’s

Montana voters trust local educators most to do right by kids in our public schools

public schools. Public meetings, public comments, and the right for public participation on each voted item, help make Montana’s public

State Board of Public Education and State Superintendent - 15.1%

schools transparent, but our public schools do much more than that! Our schools are governed and operated in a manner that not only upholds constitutional guarantees of openness and public participation but which also actively engages communities in fully developing the potential of each student. Montana’s public schools are committed to working hand in hand with and in their communities in creating a bright future for Montana’s children.

Tr a n s p a r e n t

/tran spe rent/ Adjective

• (Of an organization or its activities) open to public scrutiny • Easily perceived, discerned or detected.

“The school district’s decisions are transparent as a result of the elected school board’s compliance with the open meeting laws.”

Tr u s t

\ ˈ t r ə s t \ Noun

• Belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc. • Having confidence in the ability, dependability or good intentions or someone or something.

“I trust my locally elected school board because they operate transparently and because I have a vote in deciding who will serve.”

The K-12 Vision Group - A vision for public education in Montana The Core Purpose of public education in Montana is to fully develop the educational potential of each child served in our public schools.


To ensure To improve meaningful and broaden public engagement understanding of the of communities challenges and opportuniwith their ties facing Montana’s public schools public schools and translate that improved understanding into support for our vision for public education. To create a single inspiring vision to help bring To ensure focus to the purpose our students of public education are competitive in our state in a global economy

To ensure appropriate curricula and the integration of technology for All students need to experience a curriculum a new generation that provides a clear connection between of learners successful school completion and subsequent success and satisfaction in life.

To be more responsive to students’ individual needs

To increase student performance in all of our public schools

K-12 VISION GROUP The K-12 Vision Group was first formed by key education advocacy groups (including MASBO, MEA-MFT, MQEC, MREA, MTSBA and SAM) in 2011 with a crucial charge of developing a comprehensive vision for the future success of public education in Montana and establish a clear roadmap for getting there. Comprised of teachers, elected trustees, superintendents, principals and school business officials nominated by their peers from across the state of Montana, the K-12 Vision Group has developed an inspiring vision, aligned with the guarantees afforded Montana citizens under our Constitution, that holds great promise for the future of Montana.


Talk about K-12 issues with legislators and community members. With your help, A review of the work of the K-12 Vision Group from its inception we can inspire K-12 in 2011 through today provides a compelling illustration of why advocates to engage Montana voters: with policymakers and • Trust elected trustees, public school teachers and other educators most when it comes to doing what’s right for kids support our efforts. • • •

Overwhelmingly support public schools and the legislators who support them Want K-12 public education funding to be prioritized first when it comes to state budget discussions Want a well-rounded, quality education or each child in every public school system in the state

Following on the heels of a successful 2013 Legislative Session, the K-12 Vision Group remains united and determined as it continues its inspiring work in preparation for the 2015 Legislative Session. See the group’s priorities (right):


Reach out to legislators to inform them about the successes and challenges of schools in your district.

K-12 VISION GROUP ADOPTED PRIORITIES FOR 2015 LEGISLATURE • Protection of full phase in of Senate Bill 175, 2013 Legislative Session • Funding of inflation as calculated in law for all general fund elements • Supporting early childhood education through successful implementation of Governor Bullock’s Early Edge Proposal. The K12 Vision Group has specified its intent that funding for Early Edge be in addition to existing categorical funding under Section E of House Bill 2 as adopted by the 2013 Legislature and in addition to funding necessary to accomplish priorities A and B above • Active involvement in the Legislature’s decennial study of the Basic System of Free Quality Schools • Addressing teacher pay disparities documented through the Office of Public Instruction’s TEAMS Data Collection Process • Opposition to school privatization efforts

CORE PURPOSE The Core Purpose of Montana’s Public Schools is as set forth in the Montana Constitution, Article X, Section 1: “It is the goal of the people to establish a system of education which will develop the full educational potential of each person.”

O u r Ti m e l e s s C o r e Va l u e s • We honor and hold ourselves and others accountable for compliance with all elements of Article X of the Montana Constitution • Shared authority, responsibility and accountability: School districts share authority and responsibility with the state for developing the full educational potential of each student. All are jointly accountable to the public for providing a system of education that is worthy of the goal of the people • Equality of educational opportunity for all • Recognition of and commitment to the preservation of the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indians in Montana

Our Envisioned Future - 2025 Montana’s K-12 public schools work collaboratively with each other, with state policymakers and with their communities to successfully develop the full potential of every child in Montana through a system that is flexible, adequately and rationally funded, and community-owned.

Vivid descriptions of our envisioned future, 2025 Policymakers at all levels: Consistently support each community’s ownership of its public schools and each district’s ability to meet student needs - Support the resources needed by Montana’s public schools to fully develop the educational potential of each student educated in Montana’s public schools Montana’s public school districts are focused, adaptable, innovative, engaging, and driven to help every student succeed by consistently: Ensuring that public school students’ knowledge and skills match contemporary needs Using technology to link each student to the world in which they will learn and succeed Designing, updating and operating in facilities that enhance learning Engaging families, the community and each other to meet the needs of every student Driving the design and use of effective data systems to support and enhance each student’s success As a result of the support of policymakers and the leadership of Montana’s public school districts, Montana’s public school students: Think critically and engage as responsible citizens Succeed without regard to circumstances of life that could otherwise interfere in achievement of their full potential - Use the knowledge and skills they develop in Montana’s public schools to succeed in whatever future they choose and wherever they go

The K-12 Vision Group -

Areas of focus

Our Vision for Student Success:

Intended Outcome, 2019

Student success in Montana has risen beyond its already impressive levels over the last five years. From a statewide 90% graduation rate and narrowing achievement gaps to increased scores on standardized assessments and enhanced opportunities for dual enrollment, student success is on the rise across Montana. Key factors cited in the new gains in student achievement include: • Enhanced methods of teaching and learning • The successful implementation of formula based funding for early childhood education,leading to wider availability of early childhood education to children across Montana with a corresponding increased school readiness and improved scores on the statewide assessment in core subject matters • Enhanced performance evaluation processes adopted in Montana’s public schools for teachers and administrators • Comprehensive educator and parent access to individual student performance data, effective and innovative use of technology and other learning tools • Dramatic increased success in the remediation of students who have dropped out, through a combination of more effective use of adult education programming, access to the Montana Digital Academy for course recovery and other alternative instructional strategies

Our Vision for Community Engagement: Intended Outcome, 2019 Montana’s public schools have energized and mobilized their communities to rally behind the cause of increased student success in Montana’s public schools over the last five years. The commitment of Montana’s public schools to ensuring public awareness of the essential truths regarding the great work of Montana’s public schools has led to an increased involvement of advocates in communities throughout Montana in helping influence, guide and support the necessary investments to ensure continued gains in student success for every child in Montana’s public schools..

The K-12 Vision Group -

Areas of focus



Our Vision for Governance, Leadership and Accountability: Intended Outcome, 2019 Elected school boards, administrative leaders and teachers’ associations have gained a national reputation over the last five years for collaboration focused on the interests of every child educated in Montana’s public schools. Relationships that had been previously sidetracked by conflict and contention have transitioned to collaboration-based team approaches to increasing student achievement. This theme of team leadership for increased student achievement is not only apparent locally but is also reflected in the relationships among the public education advocacy groups representing teachers, trustees, administrators and school business officials.

O u r V i s i o n f o r Te a c h i n g a n d L e a r n i n g : I n t e n d e d O u t c o m e , 2 0 1 9 The reputation of K-12 Public Education and the value ascribed to community ownership and local control of public education has enjoyed a resurgence in Montana over the last five years. The outcome of the 2013 Legislative Session is commonly cited as the origin of this change, which provided initial and critical steps in reclaiming the concept of accountability as something created and embraced based on the specific needs of students in Montana’s public schools, rather than on the basis of a one-size fits all approach tainted by national politics and Congressional gridlock. Through increased student success, enhanced instruction, collaboration and community engagement, Montana’s public schools have inspired policymakers to enthusiastically support local control.

O u r V i s i o n f o r C u l t u r e , C l i m a t e a n d S o c i a l Va l u e s : I n t e n d e d O u t c o m e , 2 0 1 9 Instruction in Montana’s public schools has become more customized and effective than ever before over the last five years. Educators in Montana’s public schools are consistently recognized for availing themselves of the latest research and for the innovative use of technology and other evolving teaching and learning strategies to provide differentiated instruction that makes a difference for every child educated in Montana’s public schools. Equipped with enhanced access to individually actionable, real time student performance data through the statewide K-12 data system, Montana’s educators have made great strides in increasing already impressive levels of student success.

M T- P E C / Z o g b y P o l l R e f l e c t s S t r o n g S u p p o r t f o r P u b l i c S c h o o l s A m o n g M o n t a n a Vo t e r s In September 2014, the Montana Public Education Center released results of a recent poll of Montana voters’ opinions on K-12 Public Education issues. The poll was conducted by respected international polling and research company Zogby Analytics, using industry-standard methodologies with a margin of error of +/-4.5%. The poll results reveal a strong sentiment of support among Montana Voters for K-12 public education on a wide range of issues. Key results include: Montanans give top ratings to their community schools. When asked to grade their local community public schools, 66.5% of Montana Voters would give their local schools an A or a B. Montana Voters Overwhelmingly Support Delivery of a Well Rounded Public Education. When asked whether K-12 Public Education should be well rounded or focus on the basics, 88.8% identified a preference for a well-rounded public education (including gifted and talented, music, art, physical education, technology and advanced placement courses) for Montana students. Montana Voters Want To See K-12 Public Education Funding Prioritized First In State Budget Discussions. When asked to identify the highest priority among state budget priorities, K-12 public education was mentioned more frequently (54.2%) than any other spending priority.

Montana Voters Trust Educators Most to do right by Students in Montana’s Public Schools. When asked to identify whom they trust most to decide what is best academically for students in Montana public schools, voters ranked teachers (39.6%) and locally elected school boards (27.1%) and school superintendents (9.4%) highest and the U.S. Department of Education (1.6%), and the Legislature and Governor (both at 0.4%) the lowest.

Montana Voters Care About Their K-12 Public Education-Related Constitutional Guarantees. An extraordinarily high percentage of Montana Voters identified constitutional guarantees under Article X of the Montana Constitution as either “very” or “somewhat” important to them. Highest marks were given by voters to the guarantees of adequate and equitable funding by the Legislature (93.5%), supervision and control by elected school boards (90.9%) and general supervision and development of educational standards by the Board of Public Education (85.3%).

Montanans Oppose Tax Benefits for Private School Tuition. Voters oppose giving tax benefits for tuition at parochial schools by a 54%-41.2% margin. The margin of opposition to tax benefits for tuition at private schools is even more pronounced when queried for private schools without community-elected school boards (opposed, 66.6%-30%) and private schools not subject to open meeting, public document and public participation laws (opposed, 73.6%-21.1%).

Montana Voters Believe State and Federal Mandates are Too Burdensome and Detract from Educators’ Needed Focus on Instruction, Interaction with Parents and Keeping the Public Informed. When asked whether mandates imposed by Congress and the State Legislature are too burdensome, too lenient or about right, 57.4% chose “too burdensome.” The results on this question were reinforced by Voters’ answers on related questions, where Voters identified a strong preference for allocating teachers’ and administrators’ time on instruction of students, keeping the public informed and interacting with parents over complying with state and federal mandates.

Do Montana voters think public education should be well rounded or basic?

0.4% Governor 1.6%

Not Sure



Not sure

U.S. Dept. of Education


Well rounded education


Basics only

School Principals


State Superintendent


State Board of Public Education



Who do Montana voters trust to do what is best academically for students in public schools?

0.4% Legislators

School Superintendents


Locally Elected School Boards

39.6% 0



Classroom Teachers 20 25 30 35 40


70 60 66.5% 50 40

Montana voters’ opinions regarding the quality of their own local community public schools

K-12 Public Schools Public health


and human services


30 20

Corrections, public safety and law enforcement



10 0

A and B


State budget priorities for Montana voters



not sure




Higher education Not sure



Montana voters support elected officials who support improvement and innovation in public education over elected officials supporting public funding of private school alternatives to our public schools

Montana voters support elected officials who support increased funding for public education over those supporting a decrease or freeze in public education spending

Position of elected official on this issue does not matter

Supports elected officials who support increased K-12 public education funding

One who supports improvement and innovation in public education



One who supports providing taxpayer funding of private school alternatives to the public schools



One who supports decreasing or freezing spending in K-12 public education

Position of elected official on this issues does not matter to me

15.5% Not sure


Not sure


Montana voters’ opinions regarding importance of constitutional guarantees


Montana voters’ opinions on state and federal mandates

Percent identifying very or somewhat important Prohibition on director or indirect aid for parochial schools


Preservation of cultural heritage of American Indian Peoples and Tribes


Prohibition on discrimination on account of sex, race, creed, religion, political beliefs


General supervision of public education and development of standards


Supervision and control of public education by locally elected school boards


Adequate and equitable funding of public schools by the Legislature

93.5% 0 20

Too burdensome

About right



Not sure





Too lenient



Montana voters’ opinions on tax benefits for tuition at private schools without community elected school boards

Montana voters’ opinions on tax benefits for tuition at religious schools







Not sure




Montana voters’ opinions on tax benefits for tuition at private schools not subject to open meeting, public document and public input laws

Not sure





Not sure



Montana voters’ preferred uses of classroom teacher ’s time

Montana voters’ preferred uses of school administrators time


85.5% 80

Instruction of students



80 70 59.8%


Providing structural oversight, guidance

76.4% and evaluation of classroom 69.2% 67.8%




20 1.9%

Improving Interacting the teacher’s with knowledge parents and instructional skills








Preparing Complying Not sure students with state for and federal standard- mandates ized and data teaching and record keeping obligations under state law

10 0

2.5% Interacting Regulating Complying Keeping with state the public with parents student and federal informed conduct mandates regarding and data the and record programs, keeping services obligations and under state perforlaw mance of the public schools

Not sure

Will devote themselves to developing the full educational potential of each student

The Montana Constitution

Will be generally supervised by an appointed board of public education

Will afford citizens a right to attend and participate in decisions of the school board and access public documents

Will be governed by local trustees, subject to popular election in each community

Will be adequately and equitably funded by the Legislature

Will preserve the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indian Peoples and Tribes

provides enforceable constitutional guarantees that substantially benefit all Montana Citizens.

Learn more at mt-pec.org.

Will provide equality of educational opportunity to each child

Will be nonsectarian and otherwise free from discrimination on account of sex, race, creed, religion, political beliefs, or national origin

Will protect the privacy interests of students

MTSBA 863 Great Northern Blvd Suite 301 Helena, MT 59601

The Great Work of Montana’s Public Schools Vo l u m e I I

October 2014

The core purpose of public education in Montana is to fully develop the educational potential of each child served in our public schools.

Learn more at mt-pec.org.

Profile for Montana School Boards Association

The Great Work of Montana's Public Schools, Volume II  

The Great Work of Montana's Public Schools, Volume II