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.