The following summarizes content from the state's application for Lead State Partner in 2011.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Denise Juneau
Primary Point of Contact: Christina Dewald — Science Curriculum Specialist
Organizations: STEM Collaborative Network; STEM Task Force; Montana Science Teacher Association; Principal Investigators of Mathematics and Science Partnerships; Montana Education Association; Montana Federation of Teachers; Montana Council for Computers and Technology in Education; A-Z Curriculum Directors.
Background: In order to graduate from a Montana public high school a student must complete two credits in science with no specific course requirements. Montana’s most recent science standards were adopted in 2006 and are organized with six standards each addressed in grades K–12. The standards focus on the following concepts: process skills, physical and chemical sciences, life science, earth science, technological developments in the sciences, and historical developments within the sciences. These standards cover grades K–12; however performance descriptors are outlined by the end of grades 4, 8, and high school. In 2009, Montana added Essential Learning Expectations (ELEs) to each grade level to provide clarification and specificity across grade levels. Students are assessed in science through the Montana Comprehensive Assessment System (MontCAS) which includes a Criterion Referenced Test (CRT) in science in grades 4, 8, and 10.
Commitment: Montana has shown a strong commitment to standards based learning through its adoption of the Mathematics and English/Language Arts Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its position as a governing state of SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium. Montana’s standards review period is approximately every five years; however, Montana is holding off on adopting new standards in 2011 in order to consider the NGSS once they are released. This shows a strong commitment to NGSS adoption and implementation. Montana is also committed to providing quality science education to all students, and they believe that the NGSS will help them achieve this goal.
STEM Involvement: Montana is working on a statewide STEM initiative which includes business representatives, K–12 educators, post-secondary educators, and state agencies. These organizations will work together to focus on STEM education in the classroom, business and education partnerships, and how these partnerships can create future jobs in STEM areas statewide. Montana has created a “STEM Network Survey” which was sent to the states’ STEM Collaborative Network listserv with the purpose of gaining more information about new potential STEM network supporters and the existence of other STEM-related jobs and organizations. This information will be synthesized into a comprehensive system that will be a useful tool when complete.
Alliances and Infrastructure: Montana’s integral STEM Collaborative Network ties the Office of Public Instruction closely with the business community, which will serve as an integral resource with NGSS implementation. This growing network not only will assist with implementation efforts, but is a viable communications source between members of many different organizations statewide. Additionally, the Montana Science Teacher Association works to communicate monthly with educators across the state on significant science issues via an “e-blast” which has already contained information regarding the NGSS. The strong communication systems throughout the state will be an important resource for NGSS implementation and professional development. In addition to instate collaborations, Montana has strong relationships with other western states, and these partnerships will be invaluable as NGSS development continues.
Check back soon for more information on Montana's state team and implementation plans