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Science is an inquiry process used to investigate natural phenomena, challenging students to solve problems by observing and collecting data and constructing inferences from those data. The goal of science education is to create scientifically literate students who understand the world in which they live based on scientific principles, who can be part of today’s highly skilled scientific workforce, and are prepared to address challenging issues at the local, national, and global levels. (Science Framework for the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress, p. v)

Content Standards and Assessment

Current Montana Content Standards Documents

Science CRT

Science CRT Released Items – View & download released items, answer keys, and example student answers from constructed response questions.

Science Standards Revision

Montana played a key role in the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  In 2012 we signed on as a lead state.  This meant that we were able to submit comment on four separate drafts of the standards and in turn we will consider them during our next standards revision.

The final NGSS document was released in April of 2013 and can be downloaded at


Science as Inquiry

During the 2008-2009 school year, the Office of Public Instruction distributed an inquiry-based reference to all Montana public schools. The reference is titled Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards. This book is a follow-up book to the National Science Education Standards and was written by the National Research Council. The book explains and illustrates how inquiry-based education helps students learn science content, master how to do science, and truly understand the nature of science. Important questions about structure, guidance, and assessment are addressed, including administrative support, communication with parents, and appropriate teacher evaluation. This reference was distributed to schools in a variety of ways (i.e. 2008 MEA-MFT conference, via county superintendents, delivery by OPI staff). If you are unable to locate this reference in your school library please contact Kristen Crawford, OPI Science Curriculum Specialist, for information about the specific delivery method to your school.

  • Inquiry Continuum - This continuum describes the variations in the amount of structure, guidance and coaching the teacher provides for students engaged in inquiry, broken out for the five essential features on inquiry-based learning. Student should have opportunities to participate in all types of inquiries in the course of their science learning, with the end goal of having students working in situations that are more learner self-directed.
  • Center for Inquiry-Based Learning – What is Inquiry
  • Center for Inquiry-Based Learning – Inquiry Exercises
  • WISE: Web-based Inquiry Science Environment
  • Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry> – The scientific process of asking questions and seeking answers serves as the foundation of the Institute for Inquiry. The Institute provides a variety of workshops, forums, and resources to support an international community of scientists and educators dedicated to developing innovation and leadership in science education. Facilitator Guides for professional development workshops are available for FREE download– Please check these out as they also have a plethora of information about inquiry–based teaching and learning.