OPI Seeking Public Comment on 2020-21 Strategic Waivers for Testing, Accountability, Reporting Flexibility
Dear Partners in Education,
The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) recognizes that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic poses many new challenges and is seeking maximum flexibility and options under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). With the promise of COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, the OPI is optimistic that these flexibilities will only be necessary for the 2020–2021 school year. As such, the OPI is taking unprecedented actions to offer school districts immediate flexibility through expanded testing windows, medical exemptions for COVID reasons, and a shortened blueprint for Smarter Balanced. Although the OPI has secured these immediate test delivery flexibilities with longer testing windows and a shortened Smarter Balanced assessment, they are not enough. The Montana Strategic Waiver Actions Timeline is specific to the 2020–2021 school year and reflects the state activities that led to Superintendent Arntzen’s December 2020 decision to submit a request for testing, accountability, and reporting federal waivers under 20 U.S. Code §7861 and ESEA-ESSA Section 8401.
Please join the OPI each Thursday in January 2021 at 3:30 PM via Zoom to learn more about the waivers, express your ideas, voice your concerns, ask the OPI questions, and to provide recommendations on areas likely impacted under these waivers.
You can attend one of the four strategic waiver Zoom webinars or complete the Public Comment Survey now.
Your engagement in this process informs the OPI of the local conditions and needs which will subsequently strengthen the overall strategic waiver process. This is a great opportunity for you to share with the OPI what your needs are for this school year and to seek solutions together.
Why is the OPI seeking the strategic waivers? Read the Strategic Waiver Purpose and Cover Letter and visit the 2020–2021 Montana Strategic Waiver Website to understand the intention and purpose behind seeking these waivers.
What could the waivers mean? Check out the Public Notice FAQs for testing, accountability, and reporting flexibility on the 2020–2021 Montana Strategic Waiver Website.
When will the strategic waiver process take place? The public comment period for these strategic waivers will take place from December 23, 2020 – January 28, 2021 [Period of 36 days]. Check out the full Montana Strategic Waiver Actions Timeline for more details.
How can I make sure my voice is heard? The OPI is seeking public comment on these waivers. Any comments on the waiver request should be directed to ESSAinput@mt.gov. You can also attend one of the four strategic waiver zoom webinars mentioned above, complete the Public Comment Survey, and/or attend a public meeting.
Thank you for putting your students first and providing the OPI with comment on these important strategic waivers.
Please send feedback, input, and questions to ESSAinput@mt.gov.
How do I stay informed with testing alerts and updates? The OPI Assessment Unit will continue to share information to the field via its Assessment FAQ: COVID-19 Testing Alerts, Monthly Assessment Bulletin Newsletter, Monthly Webinars, COVID-19 State Standardized Testing Guidance, and other communication means. For more information on what the OPI is doing, visit the OPI Re-Opening Schools Page.
Who do I contact for additional information and assistance? The Assessment Team is here to help. Contact us at the Assessment Help Desk by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 1-844-867-2569.
The OPI is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation, require an alternate format, or have questions concerning accessibility, contact the OPI ADA Coordinator, 406-444-3161, email@example.com, Relay Service: 711.