After piloting in 30 districts, state expands innovative MAST program 

AUSTIN, TX — APRIL 21, 2023 — Leaders at New Meridian Corporation applauded a decision by the Montana Office of Public Instruction to expand the state’s successful through-course assessment pilot program. 

“Montana is leading the nation in creating the next generation of assessment,” said Arthur VanderVeen, founder and CEO of New Meridian. “Summative assessment is critically important, but a single end-of-year test is just a snapshot. This system will directly align with classroom instruction in a way that supports teachers and students all year long, while providing the data administrators need to make decisions. It makes a direct connection between assessment and learning.”   

The Montana Alternative Student Testing program (MAST) provides teachers with real-time feedback in math and English using a series of short, curriculum-aligned  tests throughout the year. Those tests can then be combined to form a year-end summative score used to help administrators make data-informed decisions. 

The pilot, created in partnership with New Meridian, began last year and has so far included more than 30 districts and 5,000 students in grades 5 and 7. Now, it is being expanded to cover grades 3-8 during the 2023-2024 school year. OPI is also seeking a Field Test Flexibility Waiver from the U.S. Department Of Education to eliminate traditional summative assessment requirements and avoid duplicate testing in districts that participate in MAST. 

To support the program expansion and the waiver request, OPI is currently seeking feedback and comments from parents, teachers, test coordinators, school leaders, and other community members. There are three different ways to participate: 

“Montana is leading the way in creating an innovative and flexible system to measure student proficiency in Math and Reading,” said Superintendent Elsie Arntzen. “The MAST Pilot Program delivers valid, reliable, transparent, and immediate feedback on student achievement to parents and teachers. I encourage all Montanans to provide public comment on the Field Test waiver…” 

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.