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Montana: Working in Education in Montana

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Educational Management

To gain a principal's license in Montana, a candidate must have a master's degree in an accredited school administration program or the equivalent and must qualify for one of the administrative endorsements for Montana by completing an accredited preparation program. The Montana Office of Public Instruction offers a Principal Internship Program to support licensed teachers in becoming school administrators.

Montana is one of ten states that do not have charter school laws.

Paraprofessionals

Montana has a number of professional development, support, and recognition programs for teacher's aides and other paraprofessionals. The first week in February is designated Paraeducator Recognition Week in Montana. Each Comprehensive Systems of Personnel Development region (required under special education law) offers a Paraeducator of the Year Award and a Paraeducator-Teacher Team of the Year Award.

Montana's Paraprofessional Consortium, which includes paraprofessionals, parents, teachers, and administrators, provides resources to promote and support a new era for paraprofessionals. Special Education Paraprofessionals in Montana Schools is a resource guide for administrators, educators, and paraprofessionals. Other resources include Montana's Resource Guide for Administrators Educators, and Paraprofessionals and Montana's Paraprofessional Standards & Competency Checklist.

An intensive four-day course is designed to help Montana paraprofessionals meet the standard of "high quality paraprofessional" for No Child Left Behind. Because attending such a program is difficult for many paraprofessionals in rural Montana, a new project aims to provide rural paraeducators with opportunities to complete an assessment test or earn an online associate's degree without having to leave their districts in order to achieve the status of "highly qualified."

Technology Education

The rural nature of Montana also poses problems for technology education. Of the state's 145,000 K-12 students, about 30,000 live in very rural settings. Montana has 61 one-room schoolhouses, 116 multi-grade independent school districts managed by a single principal or supervising teacher, and another 100 districts with fewer than 100 high school students. One of the biggest problems the rural schools face in their efforts to provide 21st century skills is the lack of reliable Internet access. Some schools lack the wiring or have modems on single phone lines. When students are involved in online learning, the school has no available phone, which is a particular problem in the many areas of Montana that do not have cell phone coverage.

Montana's virtual school will begin registration for its first classes in the spring of 2010. Its mission is to ensure K-12 students in Montana equal access to quality online instruction. The school is intended to make distance learning available to all school-age children through public school districts, offer high quality licensed instructors and compliant courses, emphasize the core subject matters required under the accreditation standards, offer enrichment programs, and offer advanced courses for dual credit with postsecondary schools.

Curriculum and Instruction

A public school education in Montana includes learning about the state's native populations. The Office of Public Instruction Indian Education Division aims to implement the Indian Education for All curriculum and close the American Indian achievement gap.

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