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Senate votes OTP on HB 323, a bill that replaces some standardized tests with classroom-based assessments and the SAT

Senate votes OTP on HB 323, a bill that replaces some standardized tests with classroom-based assessments and the SAT

The Senate voted “Ought to Pass as Amended” by voice vote on HB 323.  The bill would alter the statewide assessment program, providing for locally managed assessments.  The bill underwent extensive debate, with 19 different amendments proposed before the final amendment was adopted. The final version of the bill, the Bradley amendment, essentially attempts to allow each […]

Senate postpones a vote on HB 323, a bill that replaces some standardized tests with classroom based assessments and the SAT in high school

Senate postpones a vote on HB 323, a bill that replaces some standardized tests with classroom based assessments and the SAT in high school

HB 323, authored by House Education Committee chair Rick Ladd (R-Haverhill), passed the house with strong bi-partisan support but opponents of the Common Core and other public education advances have opposed passage in the Senate.  A vote on the Senate floor was postponed for a second time today. There has been a high volume of […]

Senate votes Ought to Pass on HB 603, allowing parents to opt students out of statewide assessment without penalty

Senate votes Ought to Pass on HB 603, allowing parents to opt students out of statewide assessment without penalty

The Senate voted Ought to Pass on HB 603. The bill allows students to be exempted from any assessment, questionnaire, or survey without penalty based on a parent’s or legal guardian’s determination that the material is questionable.

Senate tables HB 563, increasing charter school funding

Senate tables HB 563, increasing charter school funding

The Senate voted 14-10 to table HB 563. The bill provides, in addition to cost of living adjustments, that tuition aid for brick and mortar charter schools be increased by $1,000 per pupil starting July 1, 2017. UPDATE: 5/14/15 8:45pm This post was updated to reflect the fact that the bill was tabled.

Senate votes Ought to Pass on HB 332, requiring advanced notice to parents of course material involving sexuality

Senate votes Ought to Pass on HB 332, requiring advanced notice to parents of course material involving sexuality

The Senate voted 14-10 Ought to Pass on HB 332. The bill requires advanced notice to parents of course material involving sexuality or sexual education, and would require school districts to make instruction materials available to parents, school administrators, and other interested parties for review. Senator Stiles offered a floor amendment to the bill which […]

Have you heard confusing rumors about PACE and HB 323? Here are the facts you need.

The bill has become a lightning rod for people who just plain oppose NHDOE, some of whom want to shut it down.  But most legislators will acknowledge that the criticisms are baseless.

House Education Committee chair Rick Ladd (R-Haverhill) wrote HB 323 as an expression of legislative support for the hard work done by four New Hampshire school districts and the department of education in creating a way for local classroom based assessments to replace some standardized tests.  Here is some background on New Hampshire’s innovative PACE program.

HB 323 passed the House with an overwhelmingly positive voice vote but has drawn opposition from some in the Senate based on serious misinformation provided by opponents of competency based education. (more…)

Governor Hassan vetoes SB 101, prohibiting the state from requiring school districts to implement the Common Core standards

Voicing strong support for the Common Core standards and high expectations for our students, Governor Hassan today vetoed SB 101, saying

“…allowing it to become law would have real and lasting consequences to New Hampshire’s economic competitiveness by sending a damaging signal that our state is not committed to the education standards necessary to prepare a 21st century workforce.

….there is no need to pass a law exempting districts from compliance. School districts are already well aware that they have such a choice.

….Common Core has the support of educators and businesses, and of Republicans and Democrats. As this bill has no practical impact, its purpose appears to be that of sending a message, and it is the wrong message.”

Read Governor Hassan’s full message here.

Common thread in successful Common Core adoption: Trust Teachers!

A recent study released by the Center for American Progress suggests that teacher empowerment is the key factor in successfully implementing the Common Core State Standards.

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Models of excellence can help elevate conversation around Common Core and student potential

In a column for Education Week, Rob Berger, Chief Academic Officer for Expeditionary Learning, argues that in order to have an open and honest conversation about Common Core and higher standards, policymakers and educational leaders need models of student work that demonstrate academic excellence and student potential. Without examples of student potential, it is easy for Common Core critics to use the familiar lines–the standards are not age appropriate, they are too difficult, etc. (more…)

In districts experimenting with new tests, writing questions is only half the task–NHPR

NHPR chronicled the challenging process that four school districts are undertaking to roll out the highly anticipated PACE project. Teachers have been meeting with each other and the NH-based Center for Assessment to develop the assessment questions and to calibrate them, a process that ensures uniform grading among classrooms and districts. While the assessments aren’t “standardized,” in the usual meaning of the term, they do need to be comparable across districts to be valid measures of student learning, making the calibration process crucial in order for the PACE project to work. (more…)

Former governor of Arizona rallies support of Common Core as state fights battles similar to ours in New Hampshire

In a letter to the Daily Caller, former Governor of Arizona Jan Brewer defends the state’s decision to adopt the Common Core standards and calls for action against its opponents. Common Core has become a political issue, with opponents trying to undermine the standards by attacking elements of implementation. But Brewer, a Republican, openly advocates for the standards: (more…)

Some thoughts on the Common Core from Kentucky teachers

The Common Core standards are successful in classrooms all over the country, not just here in New Hampshire.  Here a Louisville Courier-Journal reporter conveys telling quotes from Kentucky teachers. (more…)

Op-Ed: State Board of Education Chairman Tom Raffio Reviews Standards, Testing Policy

In an op-ed in the Concord Monitor today, Chairman of the NH State Board of Education and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental Tom Raffio reviewed the State Board’s role in education policy and setting education standards. Fundamentally, Mr. Raffio reminds us that “[i]t may seem at times as if the State Board of Education and the Department of Education create policy. We do not. We implement the policies passed by our Legislature.”

With so much misinformation circulating about education standards and assessments, Mr. Raffio sets the record straight: state standards and accompanying tests have been in place in New Hampshire since the early 1990s. State law requires educational standards, while specifically emphasizing the importance of local control in meeting those standards.

Raffio clarifies a number of other hot-button education issues. On opting-out, Raffio reminds us that while no one likes standardized tests, they’re simply a part of life–from getting a driver’s license to going to college to joining the military. They also give parents and teacher valuable information about student progress, and help add accountability to our schools.

Read Raffio’s full op-ed here.

Marc Tucker on how we should gauge student success: trust teachers

In a recent blog post, Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, marches straight at the question at the center of today’s debate about the direction of American education: what role should testing play?

…I was asked how I would define success [of a public education system]….

…I would be happy if the average student achievement in the state as measured by a state score on the OECD PISA tests of reading, mathematics, problem-solving and science was as high as the average performance of the students in the top ten countries on the PISA league tables and if the difference in performance between the bottom tenth of scorers and the top tenth was no larger than in the top ten performers on that metric.

…I would want to be sure that attendance rates and completion rates in high school were at least as high for our students as for those in the top-performing countries.  And I would want the cost per student to get these outcomes to be competitive, too.

Then he went on to a long list of ambitions he feels we should have for American students, starting with creating

…graduates who have a good command of the great sweep of history, who not only know what happened at critical junctures in history but who understand the interplay of factors that produced those turning points and can draw from that understanding of history the implications for the conflicts and choices the United States must now deal with.

and going on from there.  He offers this graphical picture:

Dr. Tucker goes on to make the same point we have frequently made here: Trust teachers.

…we evidently don’t trust our teachers.  If we did, we would not have one of the very few national accountability systems in the world that places high stakes on the teachers, not the students.

…The nations that exhibit the greatest trust in their teachers are the nations that have made the greatest effort to improve the quality of their teachers.  Those first-rate teachers have—predictably—produced the highest student achievement in the world.

No one is going to trust their teachers because they are exhorted to trust their teachers.  They trust their teachers because they see that they are worthy of their trust.  They are worthy of that trust because they are highly competent.  They are highly competent because, in those countries, teachers are paid well, their hard work and competence is rewarded by access to career ladders in which hard work and competence is rewarded, they are recruited from among the top high school graduates in their country, they are very well educated and trained and they are provided with professional conditions of work once they are in the teaching profession.  The acid test: teachers in the top-performing countries stay in teaching three to four times longer than teachers in the United States.

The United States has responded to poor student performance by instituting draconian high-stakes accountability systems that create very strong incentives for teachers to teach only a small portion of what they should be teaching and, indeed, want to teach.  The great irony here is that, since these high-stakes accountability systems were introduced, there has been no improvement in student performance at the high school level in the things the high-stakes tests measure, while, at the same time, there is every reason to believe that our students are doing far worse on the important things we should be measuring but are not measuring.

That is a terrible deal for our children and our country.

Read the whole thing here: How Should We Gauge Student Success? The Accountability Dilemma

Mom Lee Laughlin researched the arguments on both sides and supports the standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment

In an article for the Concord Monitor, New Hampshire-based writer Lee Laughlin writes that the anti-testing rhetoric is so obscure that she needs to rely on her communications degree to decipher the message. A parent of school-aged children, she has heard the arguments both for and against the Smarter Balanced assessment that New Hampshire and many other states use, has done her research, and had her son take the test this year: (more…)

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