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Why not just call a moratorium on standardized testing in New Hampshire?

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Many legislators hate standardized testing.  Why not just call a moratorium?

Many people on all sides of the Common Core debate object to the No Child Left Behind requirement that every student in grades 3-8 and 11 must be tested every year.

Why don’t we just stop giving the test?  Isn’t that what Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, has proposed?  Hasn’t the National Education Association said the same thing?

AFT and NEA propose a moratorium on the high-stakes linked to testing but not on the test itself

Actually, no.  Weingarten has called for a moratorium on the high stakes linked to Common Core or any other testing.  The NEA signed onto a national resolution on high-stakes testing that calls on states to stop high-stakes policies and the federal government to reduce testing mandates.  But neither union has proposed a moratorium on testing.

And the USDE has agreed

The U.S. Department of Education has agreed to loosen the high-stakes requirements.  Arne Duncan said last year, that he will allow some states, on a case-by-case basis, to wait until the 2016-2017 academic year before they give their teacher evaluations teeth by applying them to personnel decisions.

Actually, that’s the deal that New Hampshire already has.  The New Hampshire waiver says that our annual test need not be used for teacher evaluation at all until 2016-17 and, even then, the evaluation requirement is minimal.

Has any other state proposed a federal waiver on standardized testing?


Well, why not put off the test anyway?  Maybe wait for “Assessment 2.0?”

Common Core opponents say, “Let’s just put the new Smarter Balanced test off for a couple of years and wait for the “Assessment 2.0″ that Arne Duncan talks about.”

But we have Assessment 2.0.  It’s the Smarter Balanced assessment.

The anti-Common Core folks are referring to Arne Duncan’s 2010 speech in which he bragged on the new Smarter Balanced (and PARCC) tests as “Assessment 2.0.”  Here’s the speech and an NYT article about it.

It’s hard to tell whether these folks don’t know this or they just hope no one else will notice.

What would happen if HB 1432‘s proposed ban on the annual test were to pass?

But why not?  What would happen if we just didn’t give the test because we think kids are tested too much?

We would be breaking federal law, the No Child Left Behind Act, that requires the tests.  We have an NCLB waiver, but it does not waive that requirement.  The U.S. Department of Education has never even considered waiving this fundamental provision of the law.  That would require the long-awaited renewal of the act itself, which apparently will not happen any time soon.

So what would suspending testing mean for New Hampshire?  First, we would have broken our waiver agreement and could be required to restart the NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress system.  Second, we would lose the $116 million in federal funding that New Hampshire relies on for Title I schools, special education, NHDOE positions and more.

And anyway, what’s the point.  Smarter Balanced is a good test.

You will continue to hear discussion about no-test-at-all from the sponsors of the “5 Bad Bills” aimed at stopping the Common Core in New Hampshire, but it’s a non-starter.  It should not be under consideration at all.


  1. Jack Blodgett says:

    Bill, I said I wouldn’t comment any further (two of my replies are still awaiting moderation re the Smarter Balanced Test), but I must suggest to readers that they read the NH Waiver themselves to check whether the high stakes effect of the Smarter Balanced Test is “minimal.” And you must concede that you are not qualified to render a verdict on whether the test is a “good test.” Even the experts have adopted a wait-and-see attitude, given all the unknowns.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      Of course people should read the waiver on the NHDOE web site if they want to. I assume you done so, Jack? If so, instead of just suggesting obliquely that the NH test is high-stakes – which it clearly is not – why don’t you do the real work and make the case yourself?

      As to whether the test is good, search Smarter Balanced in this site, read the Michigan study, and then come back an make your own case for why it isn’t a good test.

      • Jack Blodgett says:

        I’ve done both. Comments awaiting moderation.

        • Bill Duncan says:

          Those were off in outer space, Jack, and would have required too much of my time to respond to. NHDOE is on record that the test is not required to be part of the teacher evaluation in the first two years and after that, for Title I schools, the test can be any part, even a very small part, of the 20% that must be made up of student “performance.”

          Debating this is a waste of time. If you want to parse the waiver to make the case that NHDOE doesn’t understand it or is misrepresenting it, that’s up to you. But let me suggest an easier route. Call up and ask.

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