I get regular, always positive news releases on the state of K-12 education in Montana from the state Office of Public Instruction. Often, I dutifully post the releases on this blog for readers.

Naturally, I didn’t hear a peep from OPI about this latest news, which is based on a national study that dealt Montana a failing grade for our math and English standards:

“Montana’s English language arts standards ’are among the worst in the country,’ the study’s three authors wrote.

Findings on Montana’s math standards were equally woeful.”

Ai yi yi.

Montana Superintendent Denise Juneau shrugged off the findings, pointing out that the study failed to include a key portion of the state’s standards, and noting how well Montana has done in other national studies.

So it’s the battle of the studies, apparently.

Meanwhile, the OPI broke some more positive news: Montana is set to take in $11.5 million in Department of Education grants to improve some of our worst-performing schools. Here’s the release, below.

– MM

Montana wins $11.5 million to turn around state’s lowest performing schools

HELENA–Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau announced Thursday that Montana will receive an $11.5 Title I School Improvement Grant to turn around the state’s most struggling schools.

“Every child growing up in Montana deserves a quality education and to be provided the very best opportunities to succeed,” said Juneau. “We know that not every child in our state is getting that opportunity and we know that, with communities’ support, this will change.”

Schools in Frazer, Lame Deer, Pryor, and Lodge Grass will receive the U.S. Department of Education grants; Hays Lodge Pole School District is eligible and will apply this summer, which could add a fifth school. Each of the school districts has agreed to work with Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau to determine the best plan to increase student achievement. The partnership is part of Juneau’s “Schools of Promise” initiative to turn around Montana’s struggling schools.

“This is just tremendous news for our schools and for our kids,” said Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus. “Superintendent Juneau has fought tirelessly for this funding because she is committed to each and every one of Montana’s students. Like her, I believe our young people are our most valuable resource, we must invest in them, to ensure Montana stays the greatest place on earth for these kids to live, work and someday raise children of their own.”

The initiative will require dramatic measures to reform the struggling schools, such as extending the school day or school year, finding new leadership, and revising teacher and principal evaluation practices.

“These resources will go a long way in helping Montana’s kids and communities because good schools and good teachers are part of our state’s critical human infrastructure,” said Senator Jon Tester, a former school teacher and school board member. “Superintendent Juneau’s initiative is a concrete step toward making sure every Montana child has a shot at getting a good education and finding good-paying jobs and new opportunities at home in Montana after they graduate.”