Montana Office of Public Instruction's Executive Staff
Friday, November 15, 2013
As Montana’s state Superintendent, a member of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes, and a descendent of the Blackfeet tribe, I am proud of the great work that is happening in classrooms across Montana to recognize the distinct and unique cultural heritage of American Indians and provide accurate and authentic information about American Indians.
In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including "Native American Heritage Month" and "National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month") have been issued each year since 1994.
In honor of Native American Heritage Month, I encourage Montana educators, students and parents to take some time to explore the hundreds of Indian Education for All materials, videos, and audio clips on OPI’s website and iTunes U.
There are more than 200 lesson plans available for Montana educators who are working to implement Indian Education for All. In the past year alone, “Montana Indians Their History and Location,” has been downloaded 90,000 times. Other resources that have been downloaded more than 22,000 times over the past year include “Critical Thinking About the Arrival of Columbus” and “Your Guide to Understanding and Enjoying Pow Wows.”
Recent additions to Montana’s IEFA materials include “Birthright: Born to Poetry, a collection of Montana Indian Poetry” and its accompanying videos, where Montana poets including Minerva Allen, Heather Cahoon, Victor Charlo, Jennifer Finley, Richard Littlebear, and M. L. Smoker read their poems.
Educators can also request copies of the teacher’s lesson plan book, “It’s Like My Heart Pounding: Imaginative Writing for American Indian Students and Implementation of Indian Education for All,” by emailing Joan Franke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know schools are also hard at work implementing Montana’s new English and math standards. The OPI has created Indian Education for All companion guides for our new English Language Arts standards and is working on companion guides for our new math standards as well. Integrating Indian Education for All into Montana’s new English and math standards will be the theme of the 8th annual Indian Education for All Best Practices Conference in February. Be sure to register, and if you have a great lesson plan you’d like to share with other teachers, fill out the Call for Proposal application to be a presenter at the conference.
Do you know an educator who has been doing exceptional work implementing Indian Education for All? Consider nominating them for the Advocacy Award for Excellence in Indian Education for All.
I hope you will take this opportunity to check out the latest materials from OPI’s Indian Education for All Division and participate in engaging, relevant discussions with students not only this month, but all year long.
The Office of Public Instruction has been granted a testing waiver from the U.S. Department of Education in order to avoid double-testing of Montana students this school year and to allow schools to smoothly transition to a new statewide assessment in 2015.
The request outlines the following: 1) all Montana students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 will take the full form Smarter Balanced (SBAC) field test with the exception of qualifying students with disabilities, who will take the CRT Alternate assessment; 2) the current Science CRT assessment and Science CRT Alternate will continue to be given to grades 4, 8, and 10; 3) AYP determinations from 2013 will roll forward for 2014; and 4) in the 2014-2015 school year, the new Smarter Balanced assessment as well as the state science assessment will be given to all required grades and be used to determine Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) for all schools.
A copy of Superintendent Juneau's official testing waiver request can be found here.
Click here for a copy of the testing waiver approval letter from the U.S. Department of Education.