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The Smarter Balanced test has broad support because it is an important step in improving NH schools

HB 1432, Nashua libertarian Rep. David Murotake’s bill to delay the Smarter Balanced test, was the subject of weeks of extensive debate in the House Education Committee.  After hours of discussion in executive session, the committee voted 8-7 to send an amended version to interim study. (more…)

House Education Committee testimony by Milgram and Stotsky has no news for New Hampshire


Drs. Milgram and Stotsky have made a career of traveling the country opposing the Common Core on the basis that all the other participants are engaged in a conspiracy and that only Milgram and Stotsky know how to teach math and English.

They both submitted testimony to the New Hampshire House Education Committee making those very points.  Here is James Milgram testimony to NH House Education Committee and here is Stotsky’s. (more…)

Have we finally seen the end of over-the-top advocacy on HB 1432, the bill to postpone Common Core testing?

Legislative advocacy in support of HB 1432 has been overwrought from the beginning.  The prime sponsor, Rep. David Murotake (R-Nashua) has repeatedly asserted that New Hampshire’s Common Core test is “high-stakes” when it actually carries the lowest stakes in the country.  Co-sponsor Rep. Glenn Cordelli (R-Tuftonboro) has testified erroneously about privacy and even brought the Florida education bureaucracy into it – and then gone so far as to solicit a letter from the State’s NECAP test vendor to give the impression that there is an alternative to the Smarter Balanced test.

Actually, it has never been clear what HB 1432 was really about.  Is it about stopping all testing, including competency-based testing (as the bill says), or just stopping Smarter Balanced, or stopping all “Common Core associated” testing?  The sponsors have seemed to take all those positions at one time or another.

But advocacy for HB 1432 really went over the top when Rep. Murotake used his position on the Nashua Board of Education, in violation of the New Hampshire’s open meetings statute, to get his fellow board members to sign a letter in support of his bill.


HB 1432 is amended to require a study of student assessment in NH but leaves Common Core testing uncertain

The original HB 1432 came to a merciful end in the House Education Committee yesterday.  It was amended out of existence when the committee accepted an amendment by Rep. Rick Ladd (R-Haverhill) that replaced the original bill with a a requirement that the New Hampshire Department of Education submit a report on Smarter Balanced and other aspects of the New Hampshire assessment strategy.

Even then, however, the committee was unclear about the benefit of this particular approach to looking at the assessment issue and voted to recommend interim study for the bill by a vote of 8-7.

HB 1432 with the Committee Recommended Amendment (it has Rep. Murotake’s name on it but it was authored by Rep. Ladd) has a logic that is very difficult to understand.  It says that the New Hampshire Department of Education can administer the Smarter Balanced test in the 2014/15 and the 2015/16 school years but cannot use the test after that.  But it also requires NHDOE to submit a wide-ranging report about:

  • Does Smarter Balanced meet NH statutory requirements
  • Review the State’s entire standards and assessment policy to determine how each academic area is assessed.
  • Determine whether a different testing scheme – testing every other year, for instance – would be appropriate
  • Determine whether Smarter Balanced is aligned with NH standards and be sure it does not measure student dispositions
  • Determine how the assessment system will provide data for evaluation of schools and teachers and principals
  • Review student data privacy in all testing of any kind in the state,
  • Identify costs of assessments and whether they constitute a 28-a issue.
  • Recommend legislation in response to any problems found.

The report is due by September 15, 2015.

And, after this report is submitted and approved by the legislative oversight committee, the Ladd amendment seems to say, NHDOE could no longer administer the Smarter Balanced assessment.  In other words, if NHDOE submitted the required report on time, and if the committee approved the report, the department would not be authorized to administer the test in the 2015/16 school year.  If the department of education did NOT submit the report, it COULD administer the test in 2016.  But not after that.

And the Ladd amendment charges the U.S. Education Department with coordinating with NHDOE to make all this work out – basically requiring the USED to give NH the first waiver it would ever have given to just not administer a test of any kind.

Got it?

HB 1432, the bill to replace Smarter Balanced, cannot be fixed

Rep. Murotake spins fiction, gets a letter of support from his union local, risks an open meeting violation to get a letter of support from his fellow Nashua Board of Ed members…but, in the end, there’s no version of his bill that the State could afford to pass.  Rep. Murotake’s goal for HB 1432 has been shifting and unclear, but let’s just assume that his goal is for the State not to use Smarter Balanced for the next two years and that any alternative would be acceptable.

Here’s why that cannot be done.

New Hamphsire cannot postpone the test

It’s clear from the No Child Left Behind law that New Hampshire must give a test every year.  (We could request a waiver, as other states have done and failed, but we don’t need to pass a law to do that.)


Saying that New Hampshire is a high-stakes testing state doesn’t make it true

Here is a 13 second video of Rep. David Murotake (R-Nashua) talking high-stakes:

Rep. Murotake talks about the Smarter Balanced test as if the test were inherently high-stakes (here is his full testimony).  Do not be fooled: high-stakes is not about the test you use; it’s about how you use the test. (more…)

The push to undermine higher education standards comes down to this: postpone the test….

Political opponents of the Common Core have turned to the annual assessment to make their last stand.

The Smarter Balanced test New Hampshire has help develop is universally understood to be the best Common Core test, but attacking the test is all opponents have left.

It’s clear now that the Common Core standards themselves are a real improvement for New Hampshire students and are firmly in place.  And student data privacy, never a real problem in New Hampshire, will no longer be an issue at all when a new privacy bill passes (probably) in the next two weeks.

That leaves the complex and emotional issue of testing, the battle ground where Common Core opponents apparently feel that flim-flam will work.

If Common Core opponents can get New Hampshire to postpone the Smarter Balanced test or switch to a home made substitute, they can trumpet a victory over the Common Core and live on to fight the standards another day.  Simple as that.  Regardless of the consequences for New Hampshire.

The lead sponsor of HB 1432, the bill that targets Common Core testing, is Rep. David Murotake (R-Nashua).  He is using his position on the Nashua Board to sew confusion and bolster the political credibility of a bill that should easily be dismissed.

Here’s the story.


Is there an alternative to the Smarter Balanced assessment? You be the judge.

A group of Nashua teachers and board of education members want Nashua to replace the Smarter Balanced assessment with a different test.  And HB 1432 would outlaw Smarter Balanced for two years as well as, the sponsor now says, any other test “associated with the Common Core.” (more…)

Nashua superintendent Mark Conrad responds to the Nashua Teachers’ Union letter – Nashua Telegraph

Today’s Nashua Telegraph reports on the odd letter from the Nashua Teachers’ Union complaining about the Smarter Balanced test.  Here’s how superintendent Mark Conrad responded:

After reading Sherman’s letter, Nashua School Superintendent Mark Conrad said he was disappointed by the tone and by the fact the union did not suggest recommendations to improve the test.

“The concerns that they expressed regarding Smarter Balanced were either vague or confusing, and I think this has been a difficulty around working toward having a dialogue about Common Core or Smarter Balanced,” he said.

Regarding the district’s technological capabilities, Conrad said schools have sufficient bandwidth to implement the test. The district has replaced many computer screens over the last three years, he said, and wireless Internet networks have been updated at elementary and middle schools over the last two years.

In terms of the developmental appropriateness of the test, Conrad said he wonders whether the teachers realize the test will be adaptive. Some students might have a more positive experience with Smarter Balanced than with the test in use now because the questions will be tailored to suit their ability levels, he said.

“In what other ways can you make a state-level assessment more personal?” he said.

Conrad said it will take the district more than one year to get ready, and teachers and administrators must continue to work together during that time.

“We’re going to continue to move in this direction,” he said.

via Nashua Teachers Union criticizes Common Core standards test –

An odd letter from the president of the Nashua Teachers Union

Rep. David Murotake (R-Nashua) has been quoting Nashua teachers saying, anonymously, that the Smarter Balanced test is bad.  Yesterday he circulated a letter from Nashua Teachers’ Union president Robert Sherman making some of the same points.  This being the first time I’d seen these complaints with a name attached, I had a lot of questions for Mr. Sherman.  I haven’t heard back but if I do I will post his response.  Here’s my email:

Mr. Sherman, Nashua Teachers’ Union President ,

Rep. Murotake has forwarded your NHDOE letter to the House Education Committee saying that it is “germane to your consideration of HB1432…,” a bill that would suspend all annual assessments of any kind in New Hampshire.  I have several questions about your letter.

First, did you intend – or anticipate – that your letter would be used politically in support of HB 1432?  And did you know that HB 1432 would violate federal law, risk $116 million in federal funding for New Hampshire and violate the State’s No Child Left Behind waiver agreement, putting Nashua and the rest of New Hampshire back under NCLB and AYP ratings?