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New Hampshire reaffirms its commitment to the Common Core and the Smarter Balanced assessment

Yesterday and today, in six separate roll call votes, the New Hampshire House refused to pass a single anti-Common Core bill on to the Senate.  All those bills were voted either Inexpedient to Legislate or Interim Study.

All but a few Democrats were solidly behind the Common Core and, on the keystone votes, many Republicans were as well.  On HB 1239, the bill to obstruct adoption of standards, 20 Republicans joined in the 182-124 ITL vote.  And on HB 1508, the one sentence bill to end the Common Core in New Hampshire, 17 Republicans joined all but a few Democrats in a 201-138 ITL vote.  And yesterday, the vote on HB 1397 to set up a study committee to investigate NHDOE, the vote was 228-77.  I wasn’t a roll call but that had to include a large number of Republicans.

The message, as I read it, was: “We in New Hampshire are committed to high education standards for our students and support the years of work NHDOE, our school districts, our unions and our teachers have done on the Common Core standards and the Smarter Balanced test.  It’s time to move on from these debates and work on the real day-to-day issues facing New Hampshire public education.”

Political opponents of the Common Core will, of course, not accept this message.  We will continue to hear, especially, that there are problems with the Smarter Balanced or any other assessment.  But there is no further need for that political debate.  Our teachers and students will provide the feedback we need and our Department of Education will respond.

Mushrooming critiques of Indiana’s alternative to the Common Core

Yes, Indiana has opted out of the Common Core standards, but not out of the standards controversy.  The reviews are beginning to come in.  Rick Hess, of the American Enterprise Institute, for instance, says Indiana has created a mess for itself. (more…)

Is the tide going on on high-stakes testing?

New Hampshire has never liked the idea of linking test results to high-stakes for teachers.  Although each school board makes its own teacher evaluation plan, state policy (developed together with the superintendents, teachers and unions) is that framework of multiple measures of teaching effectiveness applied to groups of teachers is more effective and fair than punitive teacher evaluation strategies.

But, with the strong support of the U.S. Education Department, many states have begun using “value added” statistical procedures to reward and punish teachers.  Now the tide may be turning.   (more…)

NH Supreme Court hears the voucher tax credit case

The New Hampshire Supreme Court heard the voucher tax credit case yesterday.  Both sides stated their cases clearly and concisely.  The justices had many pointed questions and Chief Justice Linda Dalianis complimented the legal teams for the quality of their briefs on this legally complex case.  Here is the video of the hearing.


Middle school math teacher Jamie Sirois explains Common Core rigor: “I’ve made big changes in how I prepare for my classroom.”

Jamie Sirois, Stratham Cooperative Middle School teacher and Learning Area Leader, along with two of other colleagues from Bow Memorial School and Winnisquam Regional, gave a great workshop on the Common Core math standards at the NEA-NH Spring Instructional Conference at Bow High School on April 5th.

Among other things, she said,

“Rigor requires conceptual understanding, procedural skill, fluency and the ability to apply math to real problems.  It is an equal balance of these three that creates rigor.”


Reading specialist Wendy Mahoney talks about how the new standards work at Barka Elementary School in Derry

The New Hampshire Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development – the folks who lead curriculum development in each school district – organized a visit to innovative Derry schools yesterday.  The first stop was Ernest P. Barka Elementary School.

Before the classroom visits, reading specialist and former 3rd grade teacher Wendy Mahoney told visitors about the success Barka has already seen in its new Common Core-based reading programs. (more…)

A math teacher describes the benefits of the Common Core assessments

This Tennessee math teacher writes in a letter to his legislators about the improvement in this new generation of Common Core assessments that have the potential to get beyond testing strategies and give teachers useful insights into what their students have actually learned.  We’ll see these same benefits in NH.


A Common Core story in a Rochester NY student newspaper teaches a lot about NH

Why read an article in a Rochester, NY student newspaper?  Because it’s a model of thoughtful, balanced reporting on the Common Core and the educators quoted make a thoughtful contribution to the debate.

It’s also interesting because, although to comes from New York, with possibly the most disastrous Common Core implementation in the country, the teachers’ observations are much like those of teachers in New Hampshire, which had done one of the best implementations of the new standards.


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