Montana Leads the Region in Key Education Policies

Friday, October 30, 2009
by Jessica Rhoades

Montana leads the region in key education policies, according to a new study released by Education Northwest.

New Report Highlights Montana's Leadership in Indian Education

HELENA, Mont.— Montana leads the region in key education policies, according to a new study released by Education Northwest. The authors of the new report, Richard Smiley and Susan Sather of Education Northwest, said that the report is the most comprehensive study to date of American Indian education policies.

"This new report demonstrates Montana's landmark progress," said Superintendent Denise Juneau. "We're pleased to be in a leadership position and to share our success with our neighbors." Education Northwest said the new report may have some influence on federal policy going forward, noting Education Secretary Arne Duncan's statement during a visit to Montana earlier this year that improving Native American education was a priority for him.

The new study reviewed research and identified 13 key policies related to Indian education between 1991 and 2008. Montana was the only one of the five states (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA) found to have adopted all 13 policies. The policies include adopting academic standards to teach students about the history and contemporary culture of America’s indigenous peoples, including Indian culture and history as part of the academic curriculum; involving Indians on advisory boards; promoting Indian languages through certification of teachers who speak Indian languages; allowing students to learn their native language as a part of their education program; and providing scholarships or tuition assistance for college-bound Indian students.

Juneau said the policies have helped her office provide the vision, advocacy, support, and leadership for schools and communities to ensure that all students meet today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities. "They help guarantee that all Montana's students receive a quality education," she said.

In addition, Montana is the only state to have established targeted funding for Indian education under the Indian Education for All Act, and is one of just two states of the five, including Idaho, to have an Indian education coordinator working for the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. In fact, Montana has an entire division of Indian Education that works to implement Montana's constitutional obligation to teach Indian Education for All and to increase the achievement of American Indian students.

The new report is available at


Jessica Rhoades
Communications Director
p: 406.444.3160
c: 406.431.0151
f: 406.444.9299

Montana Office of Public Instruction
Denise Juneau, Superintendent

Back to Media Center Home Page