What We Do

In Idaho
Partnering with the Idaho State Department of Education to:

Deepen English Learner (EL) Students’ Understanding of Academic Content

More than 16,000 EL students (the majority of whom speak Spanish as a primary language) attend Idaho schools. Supporting EL students is one of ISDE’s priorities, and we are providing resources that align with this work. Specifically, we have developed an evidence-based guide—and we will be providing trainings—to equip educators with research-based strategies to help EL students in the elementary and middle grades develop the academic content and literacy skills they need to succeed in school.

Improve Intermediate Literacy

Statewide, the highest percentage of schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement are intermediate and middle schools. By request, we have developed training materials to help educators use evidence-based practices to increase reading ability and engagement among students in grades 4–8. Idaho coaches, regional school improvement coordinators, and capacity builders are being trained as facilitators so that they, in turn, can deliver the trainings to school employees throughout the state.

Promote Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)

Research shows that when students learn how to alleviate and manage stress, they are better able to focus on learning—and ultimately succeed. In alignment with ISDE’s vision for a safer Idaho, we are developing an evidence-based guide on SEL focused on creating positive and safe conditions for learning.

Support the Move Toward Mastery Education

We have been asked to assess and prepare a report on ISDE’s ongoing implementation of mastery education (a model in which students advance as they demonstrate mastery of a subject). The report will identify opportunities for program improvement and help inform the Idaho Legislature as it considers continuing to expand the model.

In Montana
Partnering with the Montana Office of Public Instruction to:

Develop Guidance for Reopening Montana Schools

We collaborated with OPI to organize the input of two diverse task forces charged with drafting guidance on returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic in fall 2020. The guidance reflects safety factors, family needs, student learning, and teacher professional development. We also facilitated the completion of the resulting publication, which was released in July 2020.

Expand Career and Technical Education (CTE)

We are helping OPI identify root causes for current CTE teacher shortages and explore ways to increase the teacher supply. Other efforts include facilitating collaboration between education and industry stakeholders to increase the number and quality of CTE offerings in Montana schools.

Implement the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

We are reviewing the alignment of Montana’s ESSA plan with the state’s standards of accreditation and other regulations. The goal: Reduce administrative burden on schools and clarify the essential elements of school quality to support flexibility and innovation.

Improve Processes Through Strategic Planning

OPI leaders are working to ensure their organizational focus reflects the agency’s mission and vision. They also seek to foster a more collaborative and communicative work culture. To support these efforts, we have been asked to facilitate a strategic planning process and help each organizational unit align its plans with the guiding principles laid out by the executive team.

Support the Montana Hope Initiative

One of OPI’s four key initiatives, Montana Hope is a whole-child approach to education. A key tenet is that learning can occur only when students feel safe, supported, and engaged. In alignment with Montana Hope, we are facilitating a cross-state process (with Idaho) to develop an evidence-based guide to help schools promote social and emotional learning.


Collaborating for Rural Innovation and Student Engagement

Rural educators do critical work, but they often do it alone—without access to professional development or collaborative learning opportunities. With our support, the Northwest Rural Innovation and Student Engagement (NW RISE) Network convenes teachers and leaders from some of the most isolated and remote communities in the region to learn from one another, share strategies, and spread best practices.

Improving Outcomes for American Indian Students

We are collaborating with the Indian Education directors in Idaho and Montana, as well as other state-level staff members, to support culturally responsive education and positive outcomes for Native students. This work includes strategic planning, goal setting, and connecting stakeholders in both states so they can share promising practices and lessons learned.

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