Montana Launches State Chapter with EPP Summit Focused on P-20

As a new state chapter of AACTE, the Montana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MTACTE) focused on the development of a basic infrastructure during the 2017-18 academic year. Our primary goals in establishing MTACTE were threefold:

  1. To create an effective voice within Montana for educator preparation programs (EPP) to address pressing policy matters, such as a rural teacher shortage
  2. To link national and state policy information systems
  3. To foster collaboration among EPPs to strengthen educator preparation across the state.

To these ends, the executive leadership team—Jayne Downey of Montana State University-Bozeman (president), Adrea Lawrence of the University of Montana-Missoula (president-elect), and Chris Harrison of Montana State University-Billings (secretary)—held a strategic planning meeting in preparation for a statewide gathering called the Montana Educator Preparation Program P-20 (EPP P-20) Summit.

We held our inaugural executive planning meeting in Missoula in mid-October 2017, dovetailing with the annual statewide educator conference. At this meeting, we began drafting a strategic plan for the chapter as well as design the EPP P-20 Summit. We originally planned to hold the summit in early April in conjunction with a meeting of the Higher Education Consortium (HEC), a group of university faculty who meets regularly to address teacher preparation and special education curriculum. Early April in the mountains, though, can be a tricky thing.

A massive snow and ice storm derailed our planned summit and the HEC meeting, forcing attendees to return home before they even made it out of their respective counties. Rather than compete with each campus’s preparations for the end of the semester, we rescheduled the summit for late June to coincide with and complement the 2018 Montana Behavioral Initiative Summer Institute for educators.

This proved to be an advantage as we were able to include our P-12 partners in a robust discussion centered on MTACTE’s goals, national policy trends as identified by AACTE and organizations like the National Governors Association, advocacy strategies (from State Leadership Institute speakers like Rep. Mark Keam), and critical issues in the state of Montana such as the rural teacher shortage and state licensure provisions related to career and technical education.

In the coming year, we will build our website and establish a means for EPPs and P-12 partners to solicit and provide help on critical challenges. We will also work to hone shared policy positions and a vision for P-20 education in the state. These may not be small tasks, but they are worthy ones.


Adrea Lawrence

Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences

Jayne Downey

Montana State University