General Information Frequently Asked Questions
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General Information Frequently Asked Questions

What is TIDE?

TIDE stands for "Test Information Distribution Engine." At its core, TIDE is a registration system for users who will access CAI systems and students who will take CAI tests. It provides users with the tools to add and manage users and students participating in the English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Smarter Balanced assessments, the Montana Science Assessment (MSA), and the Alternate Montana Science Assessment (AMSA).

What is the purpose of the Montana Testing Portal?

The Montana Testing Portal acts as the gateway to your Grades 3-8 ELA/math [Smarter Balanced], Grades 5 & 8 Montana Science, and Grades 5, 8, & 11 Alternate Montana Science interim and summative assessment systems for online testing. The portal provides links and resources to help students, families, and educators prepare and take full advantage of the online assessment systems provided by Cambium Assessment, Inc.

Will the Help Desk be available in “real time” to answer questions during the administration?

Yes, the Montana Help Desk is available Monday – Friday 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. Mountain Time at 1-877-365-7915 or

Are Chromebooks supported for online testing?

Yes, they are supported for online testing. See the Supported Browsers page.

What is the purpose of the Practice and Training Tests?

The purpose of the Practice and Training Tests is to give students and teachers an opportunity to quickly become familiar with the software and interface features that will be used during the Summative Assessments. 

Do I need to update student information in both TIDE and AIM?

No, during the summative testing windows, TIDE is systematically synced with nightly student file uploads from the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) student registration system, i.e. AIM. All student demographic information should be updated in a district’s local Student Information System,e.g., Infinite Campus, PowerSchool, School Master.

I downloaded the secure browser last year; do I need to download it again?

Yes. It is required that you have the latest secure browser prior to the summative test administration window opening. Review the Secure Browsers Page for more information. The updated secure browsers, along with installation instructions, are available on the Secure Browsers page.

Do I need a different secure browser for each online assessment (Smarter Balanced, MSA, AMSA)?

No. Smarter Balanced, MSA, and AMSA all use the same online testing system. The secure browser does not need to be downloaded multiple times to administer any of these assessments online.

What is TDS?

TDS stands for “Test Delivery System”. The Test Delivery System delivers Montana’s online tests and consists of practice tests, training tests, optional ELA and Math interim assessments, summative assessments, Smarter Balanced Assessment, Montana Science Assessment (MSA), and the Alternate Montana Science Assessment (AMSA).

Do students need to download the Secure Browser to take the Practice or Training tests?

Students can use the Secure Browser. Students can also use recent versions of the Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari browsers to take the practice or training tests, or they can use the native browsers built into iPads and Android tablets. Please be aware that the text-to-speech functionality is available only when using the secure browser.

What training and resources are available for the online assessment system?

TA Certification Course

Anyone who will be administering an online assessment to students must first pass the online TA Certification Course. To access this course, Test Administrators will need their TIDE username and password. Test Administrators will not be able to log into the Test Administrator (TA) Live Site without passing this course. Even if you were certified for the 2022-2023 administration, you must retake the online TA Certification Course because it has been updated for the 2023-2024 school year.

Training and Practice Tests

The Training and Practice Tests site can be used to access training tests and practice tests online to become familiar with the optional interim assessments and required summative assessments for English language arts, mathematics, and science. 

The short Training Tests are designed to provide students and teachers with opportunities to familiarize themselves with the software, user interfaces, and navigational tools that they will use on the respective online tests. The questions on the Training Tests were selected to provide students with an opportunity to practice a range of question types and may be the same for multiple grades. The Practice Tests mirror the content of the various tests.

The Practice Tests allows teachers, students, parents, and other interested parties to experience a full assessment or exam and gain insight into how the test will assess students’ mastery of the appropriate content standards.

The Test Administrator may create a training test session in the TA Training Site and have each student log in using his or her login information and the session ID that is generated in the TA Training Site.

Scores are not provided for the Training and Practice Tests. When students complete a Practice Test and click [End Test] and select “Yes” to continue to the next page, they should click “Review My Answers” to check their answer for each question while also reviewing the Scoring Guide or Answer. Once the student clicks "Submit Test," all their answers will be erased. Practice Test answers cannot be printed. Answer keys for the Training and Practice Tests can be accessed on the Student Training and Practice Tests login page. Students and others can print out the answer keys and refer to them as they proceed through the training tests.

Training Modules and General Resources

Training modules for individual testing systems are posted in the “Tutorial” resources section on the Montana Testing Portal.

Several manuals, user guides, and a list of Important Dates are also available to assist with the use of the online assessment system. Go to the Resources page to view all the available information. Additionally, the MT Help Desk is available from Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. MT at 1-877-365-7915 or

How do I download and install the secure browser?

The updated secure browsers, along with installation instructions, are available on the Secure Browsers page. Additional information, including guidelines for installing the secure browsers over a school network, is available in the Quick Guide for Setting Up Your Online Testing Technology.

What does a student need to log into a test?

The student will need the Secure Browser installed on their testing machine. Once the Secure Browser has been installed, the student will need their First Name, UID, and the test session number (generated by the TA).

Are iPads supported for online testing?

Yes, they are supported for online testing. See the Supported Browsers page.