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Common Core Testing Continues At Most Montana Schools Despite Tech Problems

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Some technological glitches aren't stopping most of Montana's school districts from administering tests linked to Common Core.

State School Superintendent Denise Juneau estimates about 80 percent of Montana's schools will press ahead with the online tests despite widely reported problems.A New Hampshire-based company offers the standardized test in Montana, Nevada and North Dakota.

"When so many students got on the tests from those three states, it either had a slow-down or students weren't able to even get on to the system," Juneau says.

Because some school districts have opted-out of the flawed testing process, Montana may not meet mandated federal education standards. If that happens, that could jeopardize federal education dollars for the state.

Juneau says she doesn't think the feds will withhold funds from Montana, but no decision's been made yet.

"I don't think that it'll come to that point, but we will definitely advocate for our schools in Montana. We'll advocate for our public education system and make sure that any kind of agreement that we come up with reflects well on our schools and our system."

About 20 percent of Montana's public schools have accepted state waivers to limit or cancel Common Core tests.

"We're working with the Department of Education to express what happened in our state and talk about the numbers that will be tested. We have a request into them right now where schools may not make Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law, but those sanctions that would come with that could not be implemented."

Most Montana schools are going ahead with the tests despite the program's troubled roll-out. Juneau thinks those schools will get some valuable information from the test results.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.
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