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A Peek Inside New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment Pilot – Education Week

New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment for Competency Education (PACE) program is closely followed throughout the country as a demonstration of how schools can reduce their use of once-a-year standardized assessments and move toward integrated classroom assessments – “performance assessments” – that contribute to learning while providing feedback on each student’s progress.

Here’s an interview with a PACE teacher who gives a clear view of how it all works.   (more…)

Students exceed expectations on Smarter Balanced Assessments in four states–Hetchinger Report

In the four states that released results from their annual statewide assessments–Missouri, West Virginia, Oregon, and Washington–students exceeded expectations on the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA), reported the Hechinger Report. Experts say that though many factors likely contributed to the results, students are performing better despite the more difficult exam: (more…)

Gov. Hassan’s veto of HB 603, the opt out bill, strongly supported by the NH business community

There has been wide coverage of Gov. Hassan’s veto of HB 603, the bill that would allow parents to opt students out of the annual statewide assessment without penalty to the student or the school district.  The most complete coverage has been by the AP, published in the Concord Monitor but the Union Leader did its own story as well, featuring the letter the Business and Industry Association sent Gov. Hassan urging her to veto the bill.  (more…)

Gov. Hassan vetoes opt out bill: HB 603 “sends a bad message to our students”

Governor Hassan has vetoed HB 603 which would allow parents to opt students out of the annual statewide assessment without penalty.  Her veto message emphasized the importance of full participation for legal, accountability, and funding reasons, stating that the federally mandated assessments are required for many federal education grants and are also necessary for informing teacher instruction: (more…)

“We cannot fix what we cannot measure”–Civil Rights groups come out against opt-out movement

A coalition of civil rights groups, including the NAACP and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights have released a statement condemning the various anti-testing efforts emerging in some states: (more…)

Marc Tucker on how we should gauge student success: trust teachers

In a recent blog post, Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, marches straight at the question at the center of today’s debate about the direction of American education: what role should testing play? (more…)

Mom Lee Laughlin researched the arguments on both sides and supports the standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment

In an article for the Concord Monitor, New Hampshire-based writer Lee Laughlin writes that the anti-testing rhetoric is so obscure that she needs to rely on her communications degree to decipher the message. A parent of school-aged children, she has heard the arguments both for and against the Smarter Balanced assessment that New Hampshire and many other states use, has done her research, and had her son take the test this year: (more…)

Manchester continues its anti-assessment push via its letter to parents describing opt-out procedure

The Union Leader reported on the Board of School Committee’s letter to parents explaining how they can pull their children from the statewide assessments in the coming weeks.  (more…)

Manchester Board of School Committee votes to adopt statewide test – Union Leader

Sarah Ambrogi and other key board members understood that there was really no choice in the end.  Here is how the Union leader reported the meeting:

MANCHESTER — The Board of School Committee reversed its collision course with state education officials on Wednesday and voted to adopt the Smarter Balanced statewide assessment test.


NH Deputy Education Commissioner Paul Leather testifies in Washington on how to move on from the bubble test

One of the biggest debates in American public education is over the annual standardized tests the 13 year-old No Child Left Behind requires of states.  New Hampshire is seen as a national leader in developing credible alternatives to over-testing in our schools.

Last week, New Hampshire Deputy Commissioner of Education Paul Leather testified before the Health, Education, Labor & Pension Committee, chaired by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, as it rewrites the No Child Left Behind act. The committee’s most important proposal will be a new flexibility modeled on New Hampshire’s unique assessment strategy.

Deputy Commissioner Leather’s testimony was based on years of work in school districts from Rochester to Sanborn, the Milan Village Elementary School, charter schools like MC2 in Manchester and Next in Derry and many others. The department of education has worked with the schools to show how to put educators in charge of assessing students’ progress without allowing standardized testing to disrupt learning.

Here is video of Deputy Commissioner Leather’s testimony describing what we have learned (go to minute 45:48).