HELENA — The state’s top public school official, Denise Juneau, will be asking the state Board of Public Education on Thursday to adopt new, more rigorous academic standards aimed at better preparing Montana high school graduates for college and jobs.
Juneau said the new standards for language arts and mathematics, developed with the help of a national, state-initiated program and teachers and other educators in the field, will make it easier for parents to know what their kids should be learning.
Juneau, the state superintendent of public instruction, plans to recommend at the board’s meeting Thursday in Great Falls that it accept the new “common core state standards” for language arts and math.
Standards for social studies and science are still being developed.
If the board agrees, it would hold public hearings on the standards with an eye toward officially adopting them by the end of the year. They could be in effect by the beginning of the 2012 school year, Juneau said.
Common core state standards is an initiative led by the National Governors Association, the Council of State School Officers and several education groups. Juneau and Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer entered into the process in 2009.
So far, 43 states have adopted the standards.
Montana already has achievement standards for its public schools, outlining what students should know by the fourth, eighth and 12th grades. The new common core standards list goals for every grade.
They’re also more detailed, Juneau said. Montana’s core standards also will incorporate Montana’s constitutional requirement to teach students about American Indian culture, history and contemporary issues, she said.
Eric Feaver, president of MEA-MFT, the union representing Montana’s public school teachers, said the union supports the standards — but he believes current standards already have done a good job of preparing Montana students.
He also said that while core subjects are important, they shouldn’t be overemphasized to the point of crowding out other elements of a public education, such as music, art and other noncore subjects.