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The Smarter Balanced test has broad support because it is an important step in improving NH schools

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HB 1432, Nashua libertarian Rep. David Murotake’s bill to delay the Smarter Balanced test, was the subject of weeks of extensive debate in the House Education Committee.  After hours of discussion in executive session, the committee voted 8-7 to send an amended version to interim study.

When it comes to the House floor this week, along with four other anti-Common Core bills, political opponents of the Common Core will try again to brush aside the committee work and strike a damaging blow to higher education standards in New Hampshire.  They will say, “We support the Common Core but we should delay the Smarter Balanced test until something better comes along.”

Legislators should not fall for that line.   To postpone the test is to postpone the Common Core.  It would be a bad deal for our children.

Here’s why.

Failing to give a test would violate federal law and risk $116 million in federal funding for New Hampshire’s at-risk children.

We would also lose our NCLB waiver.  Washington state is in the process of losing its waiver right now for this very reason.  The consequences are ugly.

There is no viable alternative to Smarter Balanced

When members of the education committee looked into continuing the NECAP or an update of the NECAP, Measured Progress, the Dover company that developed NECAP, said, “…we at Measured Progress believe that continued participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is the logical course of action for New Hampshire and are confident that our schools would be pleased with the result.”

There is no need for an alternative.  Smarter Balanced is a good test

A major study concluded the Smarter Balanced was head and shoulders above the alternatives.  You have heard that some teachers feel the test questions are not developmentally appropriate.  Basically, they are saying that the test is too hard.  The questions are challenging because the Common Core sets a higher standard for our students and teachers. Many other New Hampshire teachers have expressed strong support for the test.  Achieving the standards will take time and the test will provide important guidance to help schools and parents measure their progress.

In New Hampshire, it’s a “no-stakes” test

You have heard the test referred to as “high stakes,” meaning that teachers’ employment or pay depends on it.  The test is NOT a high stakes test.  New Hampshire has the best No Child Left Behind waiver agreement in the country: our school districts create their own teacher evaluation systems.  For the next two years, there is no federal or state requirement that the test be used at all.  After that, the federal requirement is minimal and it applies only to schools receiving federal Title I funds.

Cost and internet access are not obstacles

Superintendents say that they have made the necessary technology investments in the normal course of business.  NHDOE surveyed 12 north country superintendents.  None considered broadband access a problem.

It’s hard to support the Common Core and oppose the test.

The test and the challenges it presents are the challenges that the Common Core presents.  The test provides an opportunity for students to exercise their critical thinking, learn to solve multi-part problems and tackle more complex performance tasks.

The Smarter Balanced test that New Hampshire has helped develop is an important tool for improving New Hampshire schools.

That’s why the National Education Association and its 16,000 member state organization, NEA-NH, support the Smarter Balanced test, as do New Hampshire’s superintendents, PTA, higher education and business organizations.

HB 1432 would be a bad deal for New Hampshire public education.


  1. I am genuinely confused by ANHPE’s two-faced approach to public education issues–specifically, in this case, the value of standardized tests. On the one side, you post this. On the other, you align your organization to Diane Ravitch’s Network for Public Education–an education advocacy group that has recently called for Congressional hearings on standardized tests. You can’t have it both ways and preserve any credibility.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      You express a pretty black and white view here Larry. The Network for Public Education opposes high-stakes, teacher bashing testing, privatization through charters and voucher strategies and takes other positions with which I agree. We disagree on the Common Core and, on testing, I think they are taking a more nuanced view than I am seeing in your tweets. In any case, there’s a wide range of opinion at NPE.

      I think we need a much better approach to testing in the United States and you can see that discussion on this site and disagree with it all you want.

      I certainly didn’t sign a loyalty oath to NPE and I wouldn’t if I were you, either.

  2. “Brush aside the committee’s work”? You’ve got to be kidding me. That committee did not take the time to UNDERSTAND the bills presented to them.

    Here’s the subcommittee meeting on HB 1262 relative to student assessment data privacy.

    The members objected to existing law, which requires that statewide assessments are “objectively scored,” RSA 193-C, as if it were the proposed legislation.

    • Bill Duncan says:

      The committee totally understood your position, Doris, and that of the other political opponents of the Common Core. They just didn’t agree, as the strong bi-partisan ITL votes demonstrated.

  3. You didn’t follow the discussion, Bill. The members argued against STATE LAW and not the bill itself.

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