Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Kalispell said many school reform ideas being kicked around the legislature are based on a faulty assumption that Montana kids are falling behind their international counterparts. The truth, he said, is that Montana kids are among the best in the world.
“Our public schools are preforming well,” Zorn said efforts to create charter schools, voucher systems, and private school tax credits would take resources away from schools and hurt the schools ability to provide programs to reach students who are struggling.
“The money moves with the kid,” Zorn said each student is allocated approximately $5,000, “if the child went someplace else, that $5,000 would go with them.”
HB 315 or the “Public Charter Schools Act” would establish a system of public charter schools including a commission to oversee the schools. The Act exempts public charter school teachers from state certification requirements, creates a facility revolving loan account, and allows employees to participate in state retirement and benefit programs. It calls the establishment of public charter schools a “means of providing additional educational opportunities.”
Zorn put together a research package that looks at the same international tests used to compare students in the US with students in other countries. He found that no nation scored higher than Florida’s fourth graders on reading proficiency, and Montana’s average score was identical to Florida’s.
“So, it is safe to conclude that Montana’s 4th graders are among the best readers in the World,” Zorn said.
4th Grade Reading
- No nations score higher than Florida
- Montana scores same as Florida in national assessment
He made similar comparisons with 4th grade math and science, and 8th grade math and science:
4th Grade Science
- 4 nations score higher than Florida
- Montana scores 9 points higher than Florida in national assessment
4th Grade Math
- 6 nations score higher than Florida
- Montana scores 4 points higher than Florida in national assessment
8th Grade Science
- 1 nation scores higher than Massachusetts
- Montana scores 2 points higher than Massachusetts in national assessment
8th Grade Math
- 5 nations score higher than North Carolina
- Montana scores 7 points higher than North Carolina