The U.S. Department of Education offered positive feedback to Montana education officials regarding their efforts to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Dylan Klapmeier, spokesman for Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, said a conference call was held between Helena and Washington, D.C. to discuss the issue.

Klapmeier said one of the complications that Montana faces is its extremely rural nature.

“Montana is one of the most frontier states in the country,” said Klapmeier. “Nationally, we don’t even meet rural standards. We have over 400 school districts all spread out across the state. Since student privacy is so important, we want testing information to be secure, so when we’re reporting we want to make sure the school has more than 10 students, so that we’re protecting student privacy. We’ve got about 90 schools across the state that have fewer than 10 students. Maintaining student privacy is very important to Superintendent Arntzen.”

Another complication for Montana is the chronically low test scores for schools on Montana’s reservations, and how state agencies are teaming up to help the entire communities.

“The spirit of Every Student Succeeds is to close the achievement gap among student groups, so Superintendent Arntzen and the OPI are passionate about providing guidance to those communities that are struggling and our reservation communities to help close those achievement gaps so that all Montana students can succeed.”

Superintendent Arntzen will submit Montana’s plan to the Department by December 28th. Feedback on the plan can be sent here.

More information about Montana’s ESSA Plan and the Department feedback can be found here.