Sidney schools are transitioning into the Common Core State Standards Initiatives.

The process of working with the new standards began during the 2012-2013 school year for both math and English/language arts. At this point, Sidney schools are still in the process of drafting curriculum for the second semester.

“The transition’s going fine,” Sidney Superintendent of Schools Daniel Farr said. “I think a lot of people are looking at the standards as what schools are required to teach, and if people really take some time to look at the Common Core and the corresponding skill sets that we’re asking students to learn, there is really not a lot of difference.”

Sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Common Core State Standards Initiatives aims to change math and English curriculum across the country for national consistency and higher quality standards.

On Nov. 4, 2011, Montana became the 46th state to adopt the Common Core State Standards Initiatives.

One criticism of Common Core is the cost. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are two broad cost categories: the initial, upfront transition costs and investments and the ongoing costs.

Upfront costs include new instructional materials, new testing assessments and possibly updating technological infrastructure. Ongoing costs include continual updating of instructional material and maintenance and repair of assessment medium.

“Any time the state or the federal government decides to roll something new out at education, it ends up costing somebody something, somewhere. Nothing is free,” Farr said.

Another criticism of Common Core is it may take away control at the local level.

“Personally I think the rigor comes in at the local level. I think some people are putting a cart before a horse and haven’t really taken time to read everything there is about the standards,” Farr said. “They’re not really any different than what I think most parents want for their kids in terms of reading, writing, speaking, listening.”

Smarter Balance testing will take place in 2014, and Farr said that data will help tweak curriculum to better suit students. When Sidney schools traditionally adopts new curriculum, the curriculum is usually implemented for a full year and teachers fine tune it quarterly. Ultimately, new curriculum isn’t fully adopted for two years.

More information and resources about Montana Common Core Standards, including powerpoints, webinars and fact sheets, can be found at

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