HELENA – While Montana’s new Common Core standards for public schools are being attacked by some as a nationalized education agenda driven by the Obama administration, school officials here say Montana adopted the standards on its own terms.

Common Core standards, adopted by Montana in 2011 for math and reading, do have a national angle, as they were developed by two national groups with an eye toward creating more rigorous and uniform education standards across the country.

Adoption of the standards also has been encouraged by the Obama administration, which said in 2009 that if states wanted certain federal education grants, or a waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements, they had to adopt Common Core or similar standards that “prepare students for success in college and the workplace.”

However, Montana has not requested such a waiver or received any of the grants, officials said.

The state Board of Public Education adopted the standards after lengthy public hearings and discussions with schools, teachers and business leaders, said Denise Juneau, state superintendent of public instruction.

“This really is a state-led initiative,” Juneau said. “It’s not a federal intrusion.”

The push for tougher public school standards began a half-dozen years ago, as business leaders and colleges said too many U.S. students were coming out of high school without the skills needed to succeed at higher education or in the workforce.

In 2009, the National Governors Association hired contractors to write new curriculum standards in math and language arts. The Council of Chief State School Officers – a group representing state superintendents of schools – also got involved, and the two groups have actually copyrighted the standards, releasing them in June 2010.

They’ve said they wanted to create “clear, consistent” goals for students nationwide.

Private organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also have supported adoption of the standards.

Juneau and other educators say while Montana adopted the standards, it tailored them to fit unique aspects of Montana education, such as fulfilling the state’s constitutionally mandated program to teach Native American culture.

School districts also still design their own curriculum to enable students to meet the standards.

Common Core standards will mean new testing for students, to see if they’re meeting the standards’ goals.

Some districts already have experimented with the online testing, which is being designed by two consortia of states and should be in place by the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

Montana is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment coalition, which includes about half the states. The tests will evaluate students in grades three through eight each year, and 11th grade for math and language arts.

Juneau said Montana is a “governing state” in the consortium and will have a say on development of the tests, which will replace the less frequent tests used to measure Montana’s compliance with NCLB, the federal education law.

Montana has not been complying with NCLB, which is six years overdue for reauthorization by Congress.

Juneau said testing under Common Core standards will create a new, state-based benchmark of information on how students are doing, which can then be used to evaluate schools.

“We’ll be moving to a new, state accountability system, where we don’t rely on the bar set by the feds,” she said.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or by email at mike.dennison@lee.net.

(2) comments


From Townhall.com: August 19, 2013 | Michael Schaus

Apparently, under the new Common-Core standards, correct answers don’t really matter. At least that’s according to a “curriculum coordinator” in Chicago named Amanda August. “Even if [a student] said, ’3 x 4 was 11,’ if they were able to explain their reasoning and explain how they came up with their answer really in, umm, words and oral explanation, and they showed it in the picture but they just got the final number wrong, we’re really more focused on the how,” said the common core supporter and typical liberal, Amanda. Off course this reasoning explains quite a bit regarding our nation’s 16 trillion dollar debt, and Nancy Pelosi’s assertion that Obamacare was a “deficit reducer.” When you consider that our finest economic leaders in the Federal Reserve, and the White House, think spending more money will result in fewer deficits, teaching that 3 x 4 = 11 (if you explain it well) isn’t really much of a stretch.

Common Core: Wrong Answer Are fine - Longer

The left has long sought to bolster self-esteem by downplaying wrong answers in education. Everyone gets a ribbon; a truly disastrous lesson to teach when not everyone is capable of getting a job. And while the how is important in any lesson plan, in the end, the answer should still be correct. Amanda’s students are going to be in for a world of surprise when their first employer decides that doing the job correctly is more important than demonstrating “with words” an employee’s fundamental failure to grasp the concept of their task.

To the credit of the presumably leftists audience, someone asked if teachers will still be correcting students on math tests. The simple fact that someone had to ask the question should demonstrate the atrocious nature of American education reform. The question “are we still going to correct wrong answers” would seem incomprehensible in a system of honest instruction. Amanda, however, stumbles through a very entertaining non-answer:

“We want our students to compute correctly but the emphasis is really moving more towards the explanation, and the how, and the why, and ‘can I really talk through the procedures that I went through to get this answer; and not just knowing that it’s 12, but why is it 12? How do I know that?”

Well. . . Amanda, if they answered “11”, my guess is they won’t be able to answer “how do I know that” to a satisfactory degree. Well, 3 + 4 = 7, and both 3 and 7 are prime numbers. This leaves only 4 left, so we add it to our answer of 7 which is, of course, 11. Another prime number. . . How’d I do? Do I pass? What kind of world do we live in when math becomes a philosophical essay, and not a system of numbers, arithmetic, and simple truths? Well, it’s the same type of world that gives ribbons out to “honorary mentions” and lets every child star in the Christmas “winter” musical.

And this is at the center of Common-Core. At its heart is not an intent to better our failing school system (after all, you don’t do that by praising kids who get basic multiplication wrong) but to instil an altruistic sense of self-worth and liberal flexibility. To the American left, school should be an instrument to instruct children that they can be anything they want, and that the most important thing is life is that you get an “A” for effort.

Of course, I wanted to be an astronaut. . . And it doesn’t matter how hard you try, if you can’t answer the multiplication problem “3 x 4”, you’re not very likely to move into the highly competitive world of extraterrestrial exploration (although you could run for congress as a Democrat).

Amanda’s purported concentration on making sure children understand what they are taught certainly has its place in the classroom. . . Right behind getting the right answer. But don’t worry: People like Amanda will soon be writing up your child’s lesson plans.


So is common core relaxing the standards of No Child left behind. Most people didn't like a one size fits all standard like NCLB. But when you look at it Common Core is just another name for NCLB and since Montana took the Federal Funding, it also had to implement this Common Core stuff.

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