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New Hampshire reaffirms its commitment to the Common Core and the Smarter Balanced assessment

Yesterday and today, in six separate roll call votes, the New Hampshire House refused to pass a single anti-Common Core bill on to the Senate.  All those bills were voted either Inexpedient to Legislate or Interim Study. (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…)

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…)

NEA-NH president Scott McGilvary: No need to delay new school tests in New Hampshire – Concord Monitor

Political opponents of the Common Core frequently misquote the teachers’ unions’ position on the Common Core and the test.  Here, in today’s Concord Monitor, National Education Association – New Hampshire president Scott McGilvray leaves no room for misunderstanding: (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.)


Kimberly Kelliher, social studies teacher and curriculum leader at Prospect Mountain High School in Alton, testifies based on her first hand Common Core experience

Kim Kelliher’s school, Prospect Mountain High School, is jointly managed as SAU#301 by Alton and Barnstead.  Each town has its own K-8 elementary/middle school. (more…)

Open letter to signers of the open letter from Nashua Board of Education members

Open Letter Signers,

Your letter raises a number of questions.

You say that you are acting as individuals – but also as officials elected to oversee Nashua’s schools.  How is that possible?

And why are you willing to do board business – make a request of NHDOE – in a letter you say your are signing as individuals but that gives the impression you are signing as board members?

Are you trying to have it both ways?

You are a board majority.  If you really think that Nashua should choose its own annual test, why don’t you pass a motion saying that?

Maybe you realize that it is just not possible for each New Hampshire community to choose a different test for the annual “statewide assessment.”  If so, why do you put your names on a letter making that impossible request?

And why would you enlist Fairgrounds Principal John Nelson, who reports to you as board members, in your own personal political mission?  He says that he did not send his letter to the board and that you are using it in a way that is inconsistent with his intent.  Did you know that?  Did anyone talk with principal Nelson?

There are other errors, including the confused reference to a mythical future test, but my message is simple.

You have been misusing your board of education positions in a political fight over the Common Core.  There is no viable alternative to the Smarter Balanced test, nor is there a need for one.  You should rethink your position.


Bill Duncan