HELENA — Montana has joined 45 other states and the District of Columbia in adopting education standards that proponents say are more specific and prepare students to graduate from high school ready for college or a career.

The state Board of Public Education adopted the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math on Friday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau said.

"These new standards have the potential to fundamentally transform learning in the classroom," Juneau said. "They give every student, no matter where they live, the opportunity to receive an education that will prepare them for college or to enter the workforce."

The new standards list specific skills students are supposed to learn in each grade, while the previous standards listed, in general, what students should know by fourth and eighth grades and at graduation, she said.

They also require literacy in history, science, social studies and technical subjects.

"Literacy has to be a part of their duties as well — reading across the curriculum," Juneau said, including such things as vocabulary words in science and being able to solve story problems.

The standards were developed through an initiative sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governor's Association. The process involved teachers, principals, parents and other experts using the best education practices of the United States and other countries.

"This is a national movement, driven by the states" rather than the federal government, Juneau said.

Schools will now begin aligning their curriculum to the new standards and some have already begun that work, Juneau said.

Schools are expected to implement the new standards starting with the 2013-14 school year, but may begin earlier. The first tests that will be able to compare Montana students with students across the country being taught under the same standards will take place during the 2014-15 school year.

Montana's new standards also include Indian Education for All, as required by the state constitution.

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