Bigfork Schools Start, Already Eyeing Spring - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Bigfork Schools Start, Already Eyeing Spring

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BIGFORK -

A little later than most, Bigfork Public Schools started classes yesterday, but preparations for the year began much earlier than that because of new national standards.

In Bigfork, the first day of school--or rather, half-day--was yesterday, but superintendent of Bigfork Public Schools, Dr. Cynthia Clary, is already anxious about end-of-year testing.

"We really thought we'd have one more year," said Dr. Clary, "We thought this year would be the year that we would have to put those puzzle pieces together, but it looks like we're going to do it sooner than we anticipated."

She is not the only one a little worried.

"Most schools that start taking that assessment, scores drop by a third on average, but again, I don't know," said Matt Porrovecchio, the principal of Bigfork High School.

In the spring, students in third through eighth grade, as well as eleventh graders, will take a multi-day, completely digital test that teachers and administrators have never seen before. The results will determine understanding of certain concepts, standards that have been developed, and implemented, on a national scale, called Common Core. The majority of public schools in the nation have accepted Common Core and Montana was one of the last states to do so.

"We've lost kids because parents had to move to leave Montana for work. You know, they had to go to North Dakota or wherever, so if you've got a kid who is in the twelfth week of algebra, basically those standards should be the same," said Dr. Clary.

For three years, the faculty in Bigfork has worked to update old curriculum while also investing in, and setting up, the necessary technology to give the exam. In a matter of months, they will have twelve weeks to administer the test, eight more weeks than allowed for previous state-wide testing in anticipation of technology trouble.

The results from the exam administered at the end of this year will not actually hurt the school.

Following this year's pilot, test results from the 2014-2015 school year will hold Bigfork Public Schools accountable, although Dr. Clary admits it is unclear what the possible repercussions might be.

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