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Rochester teachers Melissa Cunliffe and Sara Cantrell talk about competency based learning and New Hampshire’s new assessment strategy

As one of New Hampshire’s four PACE school districts, Rochester is ground zero for working out the future New Hampshire public education, giving children the opportunity to learn in their own way.  But Rochester’s educators and their leadership are not being shown a new way to teach; they are building new ways for their children to learn, from the ground up.

To see how it’s going, I spent yesterday with the wonderful Maple Street Magnet School principal Robin Brown visiting five schools at every grade level.  I came away amazed at how completely this 4,300 student district and its 346 teachers have committed to their new path. (more…)

Here’s more about why everyone is so interested in how New Hampshire is changing student testing

There was a time when American education policy makers who cared about equity for low-income children, minorities and children with special needs felt that heavy use of standardized tests was the way to ensure that.  So in 2001, Senator Ted Kennedy was glad to join President George W. Bush in passing No Child Left Behind.  Education historian and advocate Diane Ravitch, an Assistant Secretary of Education at the time, said in 2005,

“We should thank President George W. Bush and Congress for passing the No Child Left Behind Act … All this attention and focus is paying off for younger students, who are reading and solving mathematics problems better than their parents’ generation.”

Now she says, as she did in an recent exchange on her blog, “Why aren’t [education policy makers] looking enviously at Finland, where there is no standardized testing until the end of high school,” going on to say that current discussions of alternatives are”a mass revolt among parents and teachers” against standardized testing, a movement she promotes in almost daily posts. (more…)

Will New Hampshire be Arne Duncan’s test case for the next generation of accountability in American education?

If you had any doubt about New Hampshire’s preeminent role in the national discussion about the future of American education, this piece in Education Week – the education policy publication of record – will put it in perspective for you.  The article gives an accurate picture of the status of the State’s efforts to gain federal approval for the PACE pilot program that strives to replace standardized tests with personalized student projects.  However it comes out, the waiver proposal is credible in Washington, D.C. and watched closely around the country because NHDOE and the districts have put years of hard thinking into coming up with better ways to help students learn. (more…)

NH’s new way to assess student learning could reduce standardized testing – Bill Duncan in the Concord Monitor

A national debate has broken out about standardized testing.  Everyone seems to agree that the over-testing driven by No Child Left Behind has been a mistake.  The question is, what now?  New Hampshire has for years been piloting a next generation approach to testing and has a lot to offer in this discussion. (more…)

Manchester: We face different challenges so should not have to take the Smarter Balanced test

Manchester’s Mayor Gatsas fired the next round in his exchange with New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Virginia Barry, gleefully covered in the Union Leader under the headline, “Gatsas to NH education czar: Explain yourself.”: (more…)

Manchester expresses surprise about New Hampshire testing policy

At its August 11 meeting, the Manchester Board of School Committee voted (the debate starts on page 60)  to send the New Hampshire Department of Education a letter requesting that the city not be required to administer the Smarter Balanced annual assessment.  Yesterday, the Union Leader reported that the Mayor Gatsas was surprised by Commissioner Barry’s reply and today editorialized that they were surprised by the Commissioner’s response as well.

This was no surprise.   (more…)

The future of New Hampshire public education unfolding before our eyes

I attended a very interesting meeting at Sanborn Regional High School last week.  School district leadership from Sanborn (Kingston/Newton), Epping, Souhegan (Amherst and Mont Vernon) and Rochester were planning their joint efforts on a project called PACE – Performance Assessment for Competency Education.  (more…)

Linda Darling-Hammond and Randi Weingarten: Time for a New Accountability in American Education

Here is an exciting piece in the Huffington Post by Linda Darling-Hammond and Randi Weingarten.  It’s about how we should be doing accountability.  It is  consistent with the Trust Teachers post I did at bit ago and this one on Hargreaves and Braun awhile ago, but it’s better because Darling-Hammond and Weingarten render authoritative portraits of the two dramatically contrasting policies: New York’s failure in the Common Core and testing compared to California’s success.  (more…)

White Mountains Regional has had a good experience with the Smarter Balanced field test

I emailed White Mountains Regional School District assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Melissa Keenan to ask how the Smarter Balanced field test was going. She sent along this May 7th story from the Coos County Democrat (and two memos – here and here – quoted in the story) and said, (more…)

Early Reports Suggest Few Field-Testing Snags – Education Week

So far so good on field-testing of the Smarter Balanced assessment.  Here’s the opened to a long EdWeek piece with interviews from all over the country: (more…)