The U.S. Department of Education signed off on Montana’s plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act on Friday.

The new federal education law replaced No Child Left Behind in 2015. States were required to create their own plans to adapt to the law.

The plan calls for steep improvement on test scores for all Montana students, but especially students in typically low-performing groups, like students with disabilities and American Indians. Four percent of non-proficient students are expected to reach proficient scores each year, an unprecedented rate of improvement in Montana.

In a press release, the feds singled out achievement gaps.

“(The plan) closes achievement gaps by prioritizing individualized student learning,” the release says.

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires schools to continue giving standardized tests, but eliminates the goal of reaching 100 percent proficiency for all students. It does require states to set “ambitious” goals. State officials initially expressed concern that federal officials might not consider Montana’s goals ambitious enough.

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

“Now that Montana’s plan has been approved, I look forward to working with communities to fully implement it and ensure that all Montana students have the opportunity to succeed,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen.

Arntzen pulled back a plan that was submitted under previous superintendent Denise Juneau. The new plan was submitted in September.

After a round of feedback from federal officials, Montana resubmitted the plan with changes in December. Feds requested more changes on Dec. 28, with a deadline to resubmit the plan by Jan. 4.

The department also approved plans from five other states Friday.