BILLINGS – Montana's Board of Public Education adopted new standards for teaching art, health and physical education in K-12 schools Thursday.
The approval was the last step of a multi-year process to revise current standards, which are educational outcomes school districts are required to address. Individual school districts set their curriculum — how they teach the standards, what materials they use and any areas of emphasis or additional subjects covered.
The standards for health and P.E. were last updated in 1999, while arts standards were updated in 2000. The Montana Office of Public Instruction began the process of creating new standards in 2015, holding a series of meetings with school officials and teachers and public input meetings.
The office also has to conduct an economic impact statement, which surveys school districts on whether implementing the standards would create a financial burden for schools.
About 60 percent of respondents said they could meet the standards with existing resources for all the subject areas. About 20 percent ofsaid their districts didn't have the staff to adapt to the new standards, but many of those districts already face staffing issues under the current standards.
The OPI has designated $27,000 for health and P.E. teacher training and standards implementation and about $53,000 for art.
The new standards set specific goals for each grade at the elementary level. Middle school standards are grouped in grades six through eight, and high school standards are grouped in grades nine through 12.
The standards are generally considered more rigorous than the old standards and have provisions to comply with Indian Education For All, a constitutional requirement that schools teach Native American culture.
The health standards include an increased emphasis on emotional health; previous standards only mention emotional and mental health once each, both in glossary definitions of other terms. The standards also have language that explicitly talks about tracking personal health and fitness.
The art standards shift from general guidelines across disciplines to offering more specific standards for dance, theater, music, visual arts and media arts. The media arts standards address film, animation and digital art, which weren't part of the old standards.
The new standards will go into effect on July 1, 2017.