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Will Nashua letters about alternative tests rescue Rep. Murotake’s troubled bill?

Back in November, when the Nashua Board of Education voted down David Murotake’s resolution to replace Smarter Balanced with another test, he took his proposal to the Legislature as HB 1432.  Now the Nashua Teachers’ Union and Nashua Board of Education members individually have gone around the Board of Education to provide support for Rep. Murotake’s bill, asking NHDOE to allow Nashua to use a different test.

The American Federation of Teachers affiliate Nashua Teachers’ Union is alone among unions in its quest for an alternative test.  Nationally, the AFT has long called for a moratorium on linking high-stakes consequences to the test, but the AFT has never proposed to choose which test to give or to change the federal law requiring annual testing.

And in today’s Nashua Telegraph, NEA-NH president Scott McGilvary took a position consistent with that of the NEA nationally when he said his union favored a grace period before the tests were used for evaluations but does not favor postponing the tests themselves:

The New Hampshire branch of the National Education Association – which represents a larger group of roughly 16,000 teachers – wants the state to move forward with the test, but limit how the results are used. NEA has proposed instituting a grace period before the test is used to evaluate student or teacher performance.

“Future students, who will have had more years of instruction in the new curriculum, will undoubtedly perform better than students who have had less time to learn,” NEA-NH President Scott McGilvray wrote in an op-ed piece released Thursday.

The 2 year “grace period” is already in place in New Hampshire.   However, NHDOE does not have the authority to allow each school district to choose its own annual assessment – statewide performance comparison is the whole point, after all, as well as a federal requirement – so the proposal that Nashua go its own way on testing makes no sense from an educational perspective.

But, in circulating these letters widely, Rep. Murotake clearly thinks they help his troubled bill politically.

Message to Rep. Murotake: there is no alternative to Smarter Balanced that will meet the requirements of federal law

Rep. Murotake emailed all House members today defending HB 1432 and saying that my (widely shared) reading is incorrect.

He says that the bill does not suspend all testing, only tests “associated with the Common Core, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment.”

You be the judge, but it doesn’t really matter.  There is no testing alternative not “associated with the Common Core” that meets the requirements of federal law.

No Child Left Behind requires an annual test aligned with the State’s College and Career Ready Standards.  The Common Core is the New Hampshire standard.

So, as SBOE chair Tom Raffio, NHDOE chief of staff Heather Gage and I and many others have correctly testified, HB 1432 would cost New Hampshire our NCLB waiver and $116 million in federal funding.

(Rep. Murotake’s NECAP proposal is grasping at straws.  His bill would not allow a Common Core aligned NECAP, which, in any case, is not available.  And a non-Common Core version would not meet federal requirements – and is also not available.)

At this point, it is entirely unclear what Rep. Murotake or his bill would have the State of New Hampshire do.  But it is clear that HB 1432 needs to be put out of its misery.

New Hampshire education leadership on Murotake’s bill to suspend public education initiatives: “This bill will turn education back 30 years”

Here are some highlights from the Union Leader’s coverage of yesterday’s House Education Committee hearing on Rep. David Murotake’s HB 1432, one of the “5 Bad Bills” aimed at rolling back the Common Core in New Hampshire.

Board of Education Chairman Tom Raffio urged the committee to kill Murotake’s bill and two others designed to either delay or terminate the state’s participation in the national initiative, warning that such measures could cost the state $100 million in federal funding and a waiver exempting it from requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.

“This bill can potentially really damage public education in New Hampshire,” he said.

Scott McGilvray, president of the National Education Association in New Hampshire (NEA-NH), with 16,000 members, said opponents of Common Core should be working to improve the program, not upend it.


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

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…”


House votes Interim Study on SB 193, 170-159. But it’s not over! Here’s the roll call on yesterday’s vote.

After an evening in which both sides would have subjected Republican’s who supported the Interim Study motion to intense lobbying, there will be more maneuvering on the House floor today, attempting to bring the bill up for reconsideration.  If Sb 193 supporters lose again today, they may try to insert the bill into another piece of legislation still in process (the session is scheduled to end on May 24).

So please stay tuned for further opportunities to communicate with your legislators.

Immediately below is the roll call, alphabetical by House Member’s last name, copied and pasted from the General Court web site.  Below that is the same table, sorted by party and vote.  Below that, the table is sorted by vote and party. (more…)

Here is the House roll call vote on SB 193

Here is the roll call on SB 193, sorted by last name of the House member.  Below, the vote is presented sorted by Yeahs and Nays and below that, by party. (more…)

What opposition to the Common Core should we expect in the upcoming legislative session?

Two New Hampshire legislators have filed LSRs (“Legislative Service Requests,” place holders for bills) on bills to oppose the Common Core.  Glenn Cordelli has filed LSR 2015-H-0047-L “relative to implementation of college and career readiness standards.”  And Smarter Balanced assessment opponent David Murotake has filed LSR2015-H-0102-L “relative to the implementation of new statewide education annual assessments.”

But after the fight last year, New Hampshire is pretty well established as a firmly Common Core state.  We are over four years in now and New Hampshire teachers and teachers around the country are in strong support. (more…)

Nashua board members renew call for delay of Common Core testing – UL

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: (more…)

Four remaining Common Core and annual assessment bills coming from the Education Committee today

The HB 1397 study committee proposal was defeated on Tuesday, 228-77.  Here are the remaining four bills about the Common Core and the Smarter Balanced assessment in the order in which the House will take them up today.

HB1239 -FN-L (testimony here) This is a “sand in the gears” bill to bring adoption of education standards to a halt.  It would be hard to ever adopt a new standard again.  No law or regulation has to endure this level of process.  Among other things, the bill requires the department to hold hearings in each executive council district.  Committee recommendation: ITL, 13-6

Sponsors: Cordelli, Boehm, Hoell, Harris, Murotake, Reagan, Cataldo, Marston

HB1432 (testimony here) was amended out of existence in the education committee but is still listed here in case it comes back as a floor amendment.  If HB 1432 were to pass, New Hampshire would be in violation of federal law. The State would risk going back to AYP and losing $116 million in federal funding.  It was never clear what the bill actually said, but my best guess is here.  The main problems with the bill are listed here.  Committee recommendation: Interim Study on amended version.

Sponsors: Murotake, Boehm, Cordelli, Kelley, Sanborn

HB 1432 committee amendment is a hastily written amendment that, unlike the original bill, would allow NHDOE to administer the Smarter Balanced assessment for one year but would require legislative action by the new Legislature next year to continue Smarter Balanced, making the annual assessment a political decision.  Here are the details.  Committee recommendation: Interim Study, 8-7

Sponsors: Murotake, Ladd

HB 1496 would prevent the Smarter Balanced Assessment from being used.  The bill is a collection of blog quotes about what’s wrong with the Smarter Balanced assessment and never became a serious contender for OTP.  Committee recommendation: Interim Study, 15-3

Sponsor is Hoell

HB 1508-FN (testimony here) is a one sentence bill that seeks to “terminate all plans, programs, activities, and expenditures relative to the implementation of the common core….any assessments and instruction based upon such standards.” This bill would shut down real teaching in New Hampshire public schools, which have been implementing the Common Core for 4 years, and have no alternative education standard or assessment.  Committee recommendation: ITL, 13-6

Sponsors: Peterson, Baldasaro, Tucker, Bick, Harris, Murotake, Cormier, LeBrun, Notter, Infantine.

HB 1432 committee amendment would require legislative action next year to continue Smarter Balanced


The Murotake/Ladd amendment to HB 1432 (the committee amendment) will be presented to the House tomorrow, Wednesday, March 26.  The committee recommendation is Interim Study.  There is an an additional Murotake/Kelly/Ladd floor amendment, but it has all the problems of the committee amendment and more. (more…)