Ms. Ziehm and some other Nashua BOE members don’t seem to understand where the testing mandate is coming from. As this summary of assessment laws makes clear, the federal NCLB mandate, non-waivable, is that every child in grades 3-8 and one high school grade be tested every year. It must be a single test, statewide. In NH, the selected assessment to replace the NECAP that ended this year has, for years, been Smarter Balanced. As was clear during the debate of Rep. Murotake’s bill, the New Hampshire Department of Education does not have the option of waiving the requirement that Nashua give the statewide assessment. From the UL report:
At Monday night’s BOE meeting, Sandra Ziehm proposed delaying the start of Smarter Balance for two years. The board rejected a similar motion made by David Murotake in December.
“This will give us more time to prepare and acquire new technology,” said Ziehm, who added that a delay will also bolster confidence in the tests.
But Superintendent Mark Conrad said the district cannot delay Smarter Balance and substitute another test without putting federal educational funding at risk.
“If you are considering this, I would suggest that you ask for an opinion from an attorney to know what your options are under state law,” said Conrad.
While a majority of members of the board expressed support for the delay, they also felt they needed more information. The board voted to table Ziehm’s motion until they could hear from a lawyer on the legal consequences of delaying the Smarter Balance tests and using an alternative assessment in the interim.
“In my mind, the N.H. Board of Education has overstepped its authority,” said Ziehm. “Unfunded mandates are illegal and just on that alone they can’t force us to take (this test.)”