Field-Testing Flexibility Waiver for the new Montana Alternative Student Testing (MAST) pilot program approved

AUSTIN, TX — AUG. 22, 2023 — The U.S. Department of Education (USED) has approved a Field-Testing Flexibility Waiver for the new Montana Alternative Student Testing (MAST) pilot program, an innovative through-year assessment design championed by Montana State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen. The waiver approval will enable students, teachers, and administrators participating in the pilot this year to take the alternative assessment without having to also take the current state summative assessment. So called “double testing” has been a barrier to states developing innovative new assessments.

The pilot program, created in partnership with New Meridian, will provide real-time insights into student performance throughout the year while also providing a summative measure of grade-level standards mastery. The combination of diagnostic data on student learning throughout the year and a final summative score promises to reduce overall testing time by eliminating the need for a final end-of-year test.

State Superintendent Arntzen celebrated the decision: “The approval of the Field-Testing Flexibility Waiver marks a significant milestone for Montana students and educators. By prioritizing assessments that support classroom learning throughout the year, we put Montana students and teachers first, enabling them to realize the greatest potential for each child. We are charting a course towards a brighter, more student-centered future.”

The waiver will likely inspire other states to pilot and gain approval for innovative assessment models that are allowed under Federal law. Arthur VanderVeen, New Meridian CEO, praised Montana’s leadership in pressing for the waiver: “State Superintendent Arntzen has laid out an ambitious vision for more student-centered learning that supports teachers and engages parents in their child’s learning development. New Meridian has been honored to co-design with Montana stakeholders an innovative through-year assessment system that helps advance that vision.”

The Montana Office of Public Instruction website provides more information about Montana’s Field-Testing Flexibility Waiver and the innovative MAST pilot program.

About New Meridian 

New Meridian is a mission-driven nonprofit committed to advancing equity in education by developing assessments that focus on the skills that matter most: critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication. Since 2016, our diverse team of assessment design experts have collaborated with classroom teachers to develop high-quality assessments that give educators the information they need to ensure all students grow to be life-long learners. We partner with states and districts to develop innovative assessment solutions that provide educators and policy makers with the data and insight they need to improve educational outcomes and ensure students from every background have an equal opportunity to learn and to succeed.

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