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Home » Common Core » State Representative and Nashua School Board member David Murotake proposes Common Core delay

State Representative and Nashua School Board member David Murotake proposes Common Core delay

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Rep. David Murotake has submitted a Legislative Services Request (#2097 – a request that staff work with the legislator to draft a bill for the next session of the Legislature) for which the one line summary is

“delaying implementation of certain statewide assessments and relative to studying the feasibility of certain changes to the minimum standards for school approval.”

Dr. Murotake’s bill may not be available on-line to the public for months yet but, based on some on-line commentary I’ve seen, it has been in circulation for awhile.  The bill now appears to have surfaced in the form of a draft resolution that Dr. Murotake hopes will be considered by the Nashua School Board.  Dr. Murotake is in a contested (six candidates for four seats) school board race, however, and the board chair has put off discussion until after the election on November 5th.

The key feature of Dr. Murotake’s draft resolution and bill is that it,

“Requests New Hampshire Board of Education and Department of Education to delay mandatory implementation of Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) and other Common Core State Standards (CCSS) alignments required in the CCSS Implementation Framework for a period of two years…”


The resolution does not propose that Nashua opt out of using the Common Core State Standards (which are included as the math and English language arts components  of New Hampshire’s College and Career Ready standards).  That would not be possible in any case.  Nashua is way down the road in implementing the Common Core.  At this point, it’s like cream in the coffee.  And it’s the only viable way to prepare for the state-wide assessments to come.

The resolution/bill also does not propose that Nashua opt out of the Smarter Balanced assessment that is scheduled to be administered for the first time in the spring of 2015.  The district does not have that option either.

In fact, neither Nashua nor any other school district has the option of opting out of the Smarter Balanced assessment or substituting another testing tool.  Federal law requires that every school that accepts federal money of any kind administer a state-wide annual assessment.  And New Hampshire state law (RSA 193) requires, as part of our guarantee that every child will get an adequate education, that every school administer a single state-wide assessment developed by the State.  It’s too expensive to do that ourselves, so we combine with other states to do it, now in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

So, instead of opting Nashua out of Common Core and Smarter Balanced, Dr. Murotake’s resolution proposes that the board “request and urge” the State Board of Education and the Department of Education to delay the Common Core and the new annual Smarter Balanced test.  But that is really not possible.

The resolution identifies something called a “CCSS Implementation Framework” adopted by the State Board of Education on July 23, 2012.  But the State Board did not adopt anything on that date.  There was no meeting on that day or on any other day that adopted anything called a CCSS Implementation Framework. There is no such state policy as that.  The State’s guidance for school districts is the College and Career Ready standards, which will stay in place until they are revised.  But they are optional for the school districts anyway.  So there’s no real point do this part of the resolution.

In addition, the State does not have the option – on it’s own – of delaying the Smarter Balanced assessment.  The NECAP will no longer be available and, without a test, New Hampshire would lose over $70 million in federal funding.

Many educators do agree with the AFT and others that 2015 administration of assessments based on the Common Core standards is premature.  However, this is not a serious concern in New Hampshire.  The test does not drive teacher compensation, so the AFT’s main concern does not apply here.  In fact, because we have the No Child Left Behind waiver, the test will not drive anything.

New Hampshire’s 2015 Smarter Balanced test is truly a no-stakes test.  It can serve as a pilot.  It will be a practice run from which we and our kids can reset our testing expectations to a new baseline for this new test.

The rest of Mr. Murotake’s resolution is about protecting student data.  Common Core opponents have expended a lot of energy on a bogus issue here, at least as it concerns New Hampshire.  By state statute, we have very tight rules on who can see individual student data and privacy hawk Rep. Neal Kurk (R-Weare) will propose enhancements in this coming session.

There will undoubtedly be a lot more FERPA fire breathing on this issue but the reality is that no New Hampshire child’s data will reach the federal government or a commercial company.

I know that seems like a kind of bald assertion.  Here’s why I say that.


7 Comments

  1. You state that “without a test, New Hampshire would lose over $70 million in federal funding.” I’m not doubting the veracity, but would love to know how or where you received confirmation of that figure. Thanks!

    • Bill Duncan says:

      I’ve seen it so much I don’t even know at this point. But I’ll find a link when I have a chance and put it up.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      The $70 million (more or less), of course, is just what New Hampshire gets from USDOE. That’s in all the various budget documents. The remaining piece about the federal requirement was established when a couple of states – Indiana may have been the most recent – tried to drop their testing requirement and was told they’re lose their federal money. They rolled on it and no state has tested the issue since.

  2. A number of states have already pulled out of the two assessment consortia and will control their own statewide assessments. They generally cite cost and privacy as major concerns.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      GA, OK, and AL have all dropped out of PARCC and FL will likely do so as well. No state has dropped out of Smarter Balanced (I don’t think). There is no question that cost is an issue since these states are all doing assessment on the cheap, maybe less than $10/student. We pay a little over $22/student now and the Smarter Balanced will be about the same. I would point out, btw, that these states are all much larger than NH. The smallest is 3 times our size and FL is 15 times as larger. They have the budgets to do whatever they want.

      Politics probably plays a role as well. But I have not heard from any of these states about privacy as a rational for dropping out – from advocates, maybe, but not from education chiefs or governors.

      In the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, state law governs anyway. And we have tight laws. And may get more. So there is no way privacy will be an issue here.

  3. Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota, Ohio (defunded), Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma left PARCC.

    Utah left SBAC. And Iowa looks like it’s leaving SBAC too.

    Many more states (about a dozen or so) are in the process of pushing back in one form or another. So CCSS and aligned assessments is not exactly a given anywhere just yet.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      Doris, I think you’re being spun a little on some of this. As the UL is doing here in NH, many Common Core opponents are trying to create a narrative that just does not hold up.

      First, I’d say that complex Common Core and more complex assessment consortium politics in other states are not relevant in New Hampshire. Each state’s implementation is different and we have a much cleaner situation than most.

      And, certainly, I would say that assessment consortium politics and procurement politics in big assessment contracts have nothing at all to do with the merits or viability of the Common Core standards.

      SBAC is in great shape and it seems to me that there’s little chance it won’t proceed and NH won’t be in it. Nonetheless, for what it’s worth, here’s what I would say about those states your list.

      Utah almost switched to NWEA, a test with good salesmen. They had to back out of SBAC to issue a test RFP but they ended up with the same testing company as SBAC (at a higher price). See? Nothing to do with CCSS or anything else important. Their kids will experience the same standards and testing our kids will.

      Iowa was never a serious SBAC participant and will probably keep giving the Iowa Basic Skills Test they are so proud of.

      Ohio is still in PARCC. Michigan defunded its CCSS implementation for the usual political reasons but is still in SBAC. PA was in PARCC in name only. (They contracted with another assessment company years ago). IN is still in PARCC, but they have a political struggle between their new Democratic state superintendent and their Republican state board and Gov. More of the same – not about PARCC or Common Core, just more politics. ND never committed to either consortium. And, unlike NH, with all ND’s oil money, they can do what they want. But they are still likely to wind up in SBAC.

      So if someone wants to construct a narrative out of all this, I guess it would be about how education has become politicized at the expense of the kids. But it’s not about the viability of the standards. And it’s certainly has nothing to do with New Hampshire’s options. We don’t have the money – or the need – to go our own way.

      On your last sentence I’d say, no, in spite of opponents’ best efforts, CCSS is a given in New Hampshire, among many other states.

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