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Spring 2021 Original Credit Briefing Page

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Spring 2021 Original Credit Briefing
Counselors, Administrators, and Site Facilitators

Updated 01/15/2021

Notice to students and parents: This information is intended for distribution to schools and districts only and may contain details that do not apply to your local district’s participation in MTDA services. If you are interested in enrolling in courses with Montana Digital Academy, your first contact should be with the counseling department or administration of your local public school to discuss what is available locally.  MTDA does not take enrollments directly from students or their parents.

Important note for districts: Enrollment for Spring 2021 is open NOW!   We will continue to work to efficiently manage MTDA resources to meet the needs of your students in this and future semesters.  We continue to ask you to assist us in making the best use of MTDA resources by thoughtfully and deliberately enrolling students that you believe will be successful in online classes.

Covid-19 Statement

Like your local school, MTDA staff has been working since the school closures in March 2020, to evaluate our available resources and ability to expand and extend our programs. Since that time, we have determined that we have the financial resources to moderately expand our program services during the 2020-2021 school year, but, are not in a position to become a fulltime online program with potentially large numbers of students that may not be able to physically attend your school in the fall.

This past fall (Fall 2020), we had a significant increase in requests for services, with instructional costs increasing approximately 30% over Fall 2019.  With the help of careful planning and additional resources from the Governor’s GEER emergency funding, we were able to meet all of our obligations to keep the program financially healthy and stable.

Based on those enrollment patterns, we will be able to continue into Spring 2021 with similar enrollment patterns as fall, with the limitations we note below.  Our staff is working to implement as flexible and responsive of a program as we are able with the staff and resources available.

Changes to Our Original Credit Program Due to COVID-19

MTDA will continue to run our high school Original Credit program as designed, with a cohort-based scheduling model at no cost. We made these changes to the program:

  • Calendar adaptations: We will stay with our currently-posted academic calendar.   Our Initial Course Request Deadline will be Wednesday, January 20, 2021, with courses starting on Monday, January 25, 2021.  As in past semesters, we will section off courses on January 20, 2021, and offer space capacity for enrollment until the late enrollment deadline.  While we intend to keep enrollment open as planned, please note that MTDA has finite resources in which to offer services.  If a significant uptick in enrollments occurs beyond our Fall enrollment, we might need to shut enrollment down early.  We strongly suggest that you enroll students that MUST have 2nd-semester services before you break for the winter holiday in December.  NOTE: We have made minor adaptations to the Spring calendar to correct an error.  If your calendar has an updated date BEFORE November 2020, please download and print the updated calendar at the link above.
  • Course adaptations: Like our past three terms, MTDA intends to run our full class requirements for each course. We have asked our lead teachers to carefully evaluate all assignments and expectations to eliminate duplicative assignments and make any content that is truly optional practice-only.  Please be sure to discuss this with students upon enrolling, as we will not be adapting course requirements outside of further, extraordinary circumstances.
  • No final proctoring requirement: For the 20-21 school year, MTDA has eliminated proctored final requirements for all original credit courses.
  • Semester enrollment limitations: In keeping with our role as a supplemental program, we are enforcing our Fall 2020 course enrollment limitation of two (NOW THREE) courses per term to the full school year.  Students may enroll in up to three courses per term with MTDA.  If additional courses are needed, please refer to our IPC program.  Please contact MTDA staff to schedule a consultation on IPC programming.  This limitation is firm and non-negotiable based on individual circumstances.  (This language was updated on January 15, 2021, to reflect additional available enrollments.)

In light of our experiences serving students during the past four terms, we have additional guidance for schools on enrollment.

  • Access Remains an Absolute, Minimum Requirement: We assume that you are enrolling students that will continue to have consistent access to both a computer (laptop and desktop), along with broadband Internet, should schools be open or closed or students are unable to attend the physical school building for any reason. MTDA is not in a position to evaluate this, so, we leave it up to schools to work with students and their families to make sure appropriate access is available.
  • Time Remains a Critical Factor for MTDA Courses: In our student perception survey this past spring, a notable number of MTDA students said they struggled to balance the requirements of their local remote learning program with MTDA requirements. The estimated time required for MTDA courses remains the same: four-to-seven hours per course, per week. Please work individually with students to confirm they are in a course they, indeed, are interested in taking, even if larger events intervene.  This must be part of every individual student enrollment evaluation at the local school level.


  • Please note these important notes specific to Spring 2021 enrollments:
    • Per our past policies and procedures, students that were not successful Fall 2020 might have enrollment restrictions in play for Spring 2021.  The procedure is the same for discussing enrollment: please contact support with additional details about the student, including what has changed about their circumstance since the Fall and what additional supports will be in place locally to help increase the likelihood of student success.
    • Please be mindful of course requirements and prerequisites.  Many full-year courses are not available for mid-year enrollment (for example, mid-year entry in AP Biology with no prior background), and students that are attempting to switch from face-to-face to MTDA mid-year should contact the support desk well ahead of enrollment to discuss the situation.  Also, schools should not enroll students in the spring term of a full-year course where they do not have a successful history with the Fall semester in any format (for example, a student failing Fall Algebra I A/1st Semester does not meet the minimum prerequisites for enrolling in Algebra I B/2nd semester).
  • Please review our student registration page for information on data collection, entrance counseling, and student registration in the site facilitator handbook.
  • As noted in our facilitator handbook, each student account must have an accurate, unique, and functioning email address for each student enrolled in the system.  If your district’s student email system blocks outside emails, please work with your IT department to unblock MTDA email addresses BEFORE enrolling.  Additionally note, Apple iCloud addresses do not allow access to many automated email systems; please use an alternative.
  • Registration for Spring 2021 courses is open now.  We will again enforce an “Initial Course Request Deadline” on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.  MTDA will finalize sections on that day and assign teachers.  We may or may not have additional slots open in any particular course after this day.  If you choose to enroll a student on or after the course start date on January 25, 2021, you must play an active role in helping that student get in the course and catch up to pace.  Students that are enrolled after the course starts have a significantly higher drop rate and ultimately lower success rate.
  • Please use the enrollment counseling forms when enrolling students and give a copy of the form to the student after enrollment.  This form helps decrease confusion on behalf of the student and their parents and opens up communication lines.  Our enrollment counseling page is here: LINK.

Program Information

  • Our course list for 2020-2021 is here: LINK.
  • Our 2020-2021 Academic Calendar is located here: LINK.
  • Our 2020-2021 course catalog and course offering lists are located here: LINK.
  • Significant program changes (please check back here for an up-to-date list):
    • Courses with Program Notes
      • Game Design is not offered in Spring 2021.
      • Fashion Design is no longer offered by MTDA.  We have changed our master schedule to make Interior Design available both fall and spring.
      • For the 2020-2021 school year only, Contemporary Mathematics does not require minimum placement scores but may require additional paperwork
  • Course Enrollment Limitations
    • MTDA Family/Consumer Science courses are limited to THREE sections a piece due to staffing availability.  These slots are available first-come, first-served.
    • MTDA Agriculture courses are limited to one section due to staffing availability.  These slots are available first-come, first-served.
  • Dual Credit Course Information
    • Reminder: MTDA-sourced dual credit courses require that you enroll in the MTDA course FIRST, then apply for college credit with our partner institution.  College deadlines and requirements are firm.
    • Information pages
      • Contemporary Mathematics, 1 Semester; Partner: Helena College (info page here: link)
      • Joy and Beauty of Computing (Dual Credit), 1 Semester; Partner: Helena College (info page here: link)
      • Elementary Spanish I, Full Year; Partner: Helena College (this year-long course registers in the Spring; into page here: link)
      • Pre-Calculus, Full Year; Partner: Missoula College (this year-long course registers in the Spring; email sent in December and January to students, CCd to parents/guardians and local facilitators)
  • NCAA: If you are considering MTDA courses for a student that could be a future NCAA athlete, be sure to review our page regarding MTDA and the NCAA.
  • IEPs/504 information: If you have a student that has 504 or IEP accommodations, please review required procedures for sharing accommodation requests in our site facilitator handbook (short link to specific pages: link)

2020-2021 Advanced Placement Information

NOTE: The information below is aimed at Fall 2020 MTDA AP students and their facilitators.  For year-long AP courses, it is too late to order a test without an increased cost.  The exception to this is AP Macroeconomics, which is a one-semester course offered in the Spring only.

Thank you for entrusting your student with MTDA for an Advanced Placement course. We are very proud of our AP program, which has experienced growth in the past five years, outpacing the rest of our program. Our exam passage rates exceed the state average, and we continue to refine our delivery and engagement models. We have had positive and constructive feedback from our students and look forward to continuing to enhance and polish the student experience in the program. We, of course, also welcome your feedback!

Covid-Related Information

MTDA will offer our full complement of dual credit and Advance Placement courses for the 2020-2021 school year.  However, AP exam administration and registration are completely outside of MTDA.  Schools should keep a close eye on the College Board’s “AP Central” website for updates regarding testing in the Spring.

Resource: AP Central Webpage (link).

Test Administration/Ordering Exams

You must plan and take action now for students taking the Advanced Placement tests, May 2021.

As a distance learning provider, MTDA has no role in the administration of Advanced Placement exams. We will do our best to assist, but exam administration happens in face-to-face environments and not online.

Please refer to this excellent checklist from the CollegeBoard on setup, enrollment, and ordering tests:

Resource: AP Coordinator Checklist (link).

FOR SCHOOLS THAT ARE ALREADY REGISTERED TO OFFER AP EXAMS: In addition to the earlier fall deadline, the process for ordering exams changed for students Fall 2019.  You need to create “exam only” sections for your MTDA AP students, and then order exams for that particular section. Otherwise, the process is the same for your local students.

FOR SCHOOLS THAT ARE NOT REGISTERED TO OFFER AP EXAMS, your options are to register to do so, or, work with a neighboring district that offers AP testing. With new, short deadlines this year, we recommend that you start the process today to determine the best setup for your MTDA AP students.

The best resource to get started is the College Board’s “Start AP” page, located here:

The page contains an excellent set of resources on how to get started, including a timeline and contact information for assistance at the College Board itself. The “Getting Approved to Administer Exams” page goes through that process step-by-step. Once that is complete, you will need to order exams, per the directions above.

Course Audits

As you may be aware, all schools and outside course providers must pass a rigorous “Course Audit” to qualify to appear on the College Board’s Advanced Placement Ledger.  All MTDA audits have been approved for the 20-21 school year.

Like past years, the College Board has asked all providers like MTDA to inform you in writing that you must take an additional step locally to have MTDA’s courses appear in the ledger associated with your school. With your local course audit account, you must explicitly choose the course and associate it with MTDA as an external provider. It is our understanding that you must complete this process by January. However, we would advise doing so as soon as possible.

Additional Assistance

We know that the processes involved can be challenging and that instructions aren’t necessarily clear. We suggest contacting the College Board first with questions. If you are not able to get a clear answer or if the answer conflicts what we are advising above, please contact the support desk.

We sincerely appreciate working with you to help serve students across the state by delivering programs like Advanced Placement courses. Do let our staff know if we can be of any assistance!