One of the main goals for Bozeman schools this year will be implementing the new “common core” teaching standards, School Board trustees agreed Friday.

School Board members met at their annual retreat at Willson School and discussed their top five priorities for the coming year.

Superintendent Rob Watson said the district’s long-range strategic plan identifies about 21 goals, but “we need a work plan for the year.”

The state of Montana last year joined 45 states in adopting the common core teaching standards.

Developed by education leaders from several states, the common core standards spell out what students should know at each grade level in math and English. They’re intended to be more rigorous, require higher-level thinking, prepare students for careers or college and help students succeed in a global economy.

Bozeman’s other four top priorities, Watson said, are:

  • To put into practice the Olweus anti-bullying program, which encourages students to stand up against bullying, rather than be passive bystanders.
  • To increase communication and partnerships with the community. Trustee Denise Hayman said she’d like to see the district’s website updated, and make it easier for the community to see progress reports from each school.
  • To continue work on new standards for grading the job performance of teachers and principals. Watson said a district committee has been working for two years on a new method for evaluations, and it needs more feedback. Student progress will likely be one of many factors used in evaluations, he said, but teachers’ raises won’t depend on test scores, as some national reformers advocate.
  • To prepare for opening elementary school No. 8, which includes setting up committees to name the school and draw new district-wide student attendance boundaries and staffing the new school.

Watson said he plans to share the priorities with teachers and staff members at Monday morning’s welcome-back assembly in Willson Auditorium.

Attending the retreat were six trustees and Andy Willett, who was selected Tuesday to fill a trustee vacancy but is not yet sworn in.

Trustee Heide Arneson said the retreat is worthwhile.

“It helps us understand the direction of the schools,” Arneson said, and “how decisions we made in the past impact the schools.”

Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.


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