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The House Education Committee held its public hearing yesterday on Rep. David Murotake’s HB 1432, one of the “5 Bad Bills” to end the Common Core in New Hampshire. But Rep. Murotake, a member of the Nashua school board (which did not support his proposals when he submitted them as a resolution), goes the other 4 bills one better. His bill looks like an attempt to beat up New Hampshire public education and leave it in a ditch.
HB 1432 takes NH education apart, top to bottom
HB 1432 says that for the next two years, contrary to federal law, there will be no annual academic assessment of any kind given in New Hampshire. It doesn’t just prohibit Smarter Balanced. It prohibits any annual test at all.
As a result of its first sentence alone, we would lose our waiver and go back to No Child Left Behind and “adequate yearly progress,” but that’s the least of it. New Hampshire schools would lose at least $116 million in federal funding as a result of outlawing the annual assessment, inflicting unconscionable pain on the State, especially our poorest children and their schools that depend on that funding for the math, reading and special education specialists who help at-risk students catch up.
The NECAP served its purpose
When the federal No Child Left Behind act required annual assessments of all public school students in grades 3-8 and 11, New Hampshire joined Rhode Island and Vermont – two other small states with small education budgets – to create the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP). It was a fill-in-the-bubble, multiple choice test first administered in 2005. Since 2009, Maine has used the NECAP as well.
…but the new Smarter Balanced test is much better
Now New Hampshire is part of a much larger consortium of states – the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium – developing a modern test aligned to the new Common Core standards. This computer adaptive test (it adjusts the student’s questions to the students abilities) is far better than the NECAP and was judged in a major study by the Michigan Department of Education to be the best in the country. And, instead of testing our students in the fall and getting the results in April, when they are no longer relevant, the Smarter Balanced test will be given in the spring and the results will be available almost immediately.
So we are getting a far better test as the same price as the old NECAP. New Hampshire teachers I have talked to have been very impressed with the new test and are looking forward to using it in their classrooms.
Virtually all New Hampshire school districts are down the road toward using the new Common Core standards to guide their curricula and lesson plans. New Hampshire is scheduled to start using the new Smarter Balanced annual test in the spring of 2015, but many teachers have already reviewed preliminary versions of the test or taken a sample test. (more…)
The Michigan Legislature mandated that its department of education prepare a report comparing all available Common Core testing options. Twenty department staff prepared a 23 page report, Report on Options for Assessments Aligned with the Common Core State Standards, with detailed tables comparing the 12 potential vendors, including Smarter Balanced, the consortium New Hampshire has joined and helps manage.
The report looked at testing vendors’ ability to provide not only the “summative” (annual) test but also the “interim” (periodic) and “formative” (short-term) tests. Right now, many New Hampshire school districts buy interim and other types of tests from a variety of vendors. The report points out:
It will be much more cost-effective for the state to provide interim assessments and formative assessment resources online…., freeing up local resources and helping to ensure comparability across the state.
This is a benefit not discussed much yet in New Hampshire. The report goes on to conclude:
Smarter Balanced …remains the only viable option that can satisfy all of the multiple needs for test security, student data privacy, a Michigan governance role, Michigan educator involvement, minimizing local burdens, cost effectiveness, Michigan access to all data to allow for verification, and so on. Because Smarter Balanced was designed primarily by state assessment directors who understand these needs, this should not be a surprising result.