Following two disappointing reports from the Montana OPI (Office of Public Instruction) on test scores for high school and then elementary and middle schools throughout the state, Missoula school officials found reasons to celebrate.

Elise Guest, Executive Director for Teaching and Learning for Missoula County Public Schools explained.

“We are in a moment in our education where we’re seeing some great celebration with our student achievement,” said Guest. “There are a lot of things to celebrate, and that begins with our teachers and the amazing work they do in the classroom every day, and how that translates into improved student achievement scores.”

Guest was happy to report the higher test scores for both elementary and middle school students in Missoula public schools.

“For example in English Language Arts for our students in grades three to eight, we’ve seen everything from a nine to 14 percent increase in our state achievement scores,” she said. “That is measured in our Smarter Balanced Assessment that all students are given in the spring. The same kind of increase in student achievement has also occurred in math. We’ve seen everything from a five to 13 percent increase in scores across the board. I think it really speaks to what our teachers are doing in the classroom every day and how they’re collaborating with each other, sharing in the best practices and how they’re trying to reach all students.”

Guest said MCPS has placed a special emphasis on the effort to help all students improve.

“In the last few years we’ve really embraced a model of ‘All Means All’,” she said. “That means we want to see each and every child in the classroom grow, and that may be at different rates and pace and projections, but each and every child should have the opportunity to celebrate their growth. The ‘All Means All’ approach has really shown us that we can look to every child’s strength and continue to grow that. We can look at children who have gaps in their knowledge and go back and re-teach them skills so that students are set up for success in the future.”

Franklin Elementary students moved from 29% of 5th grade students scoring at or above proficient in 2015-16 to 62% scoring at or above proficient in 2018-19. In addition, Rattlesnake Elementary students moved from 50% of students at and above Proficient in 3rd-5th grade English Language Arts in 2015-16 to 70% of students at and above proficient in 3-5th grade.