Published Online: September 2, 2014

Montana students to be tested on Common Core

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana will implement and test students on the Common Core standards this school year, despite opposition and an anticipated battle against the new rules in next year's legislative session.

Students across the state will be tested for the first time on Common Core after education officials conducted field tests last spring using the exam, called the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

"This upcoming year will be the first real test where it will matter and students will actually receive scores," Office of Public Instruction Superintendent Denise Juneau told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

Montana in 2011 joined most other states in adopting the standards that supporters say are rigorous, comprehensive and better prepare students for college or a job.

Some schools are behind in curriculum development, teacher training and acquiring textbooks or other equipment to teach to the new standards, but the state overall "is pretty well situated as far as implementing the standards," Juneau said.

The 2013 Legislature rejected proposals to allocate money for training and equipment, and state Sen. Roger Webb has submitted a bill request for the 2015 session to bar any funding for Common Core.

"I'm going to defund it," Webb said. "They can do what they want. I'm going to shut the money off."

Webb said he believes Common Core undermines the control of local school boards in what is taught.

Juneau disputed that, saying the state left curriculum development to the local schools, provided they meet the standards. She also said that because the Legislature did not approve Common Core funding in the last session, there is nothing to "defund."

She said she anticipated the Common Core debate will continue when the Legislature convenes in January.

"We will be there to defend public education," she said.


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