Common Core

Citizens Count Editor

The Common Core State Standards Initiative establishes minimum expectations for what kindergarten through grade 12 students in the United States should know in English and mathematics by the end of each grade.  The standards are not federally mandated but may be voluntarily adopted by states or school districts.

The standards do not constitute a curriculum. It is left up to districts, schools and teachers to determine how students may best be brought to an understanding of the areas of knowledge listed in the standards.

Common Core development

The Common Core was a project of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, an organization of the heads of state departments of education. It was created in the hopes that setting clear academic standards  for students would help raise achievement and college-readiness.

The initial framework for the standards was developed by a task force established by the NGA. Members included educators, state governors, higher education experts and business leaders. Input was also solicited from national education organizations such as major teachers’ unions, the National Council of Teachers of English, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the International Reading Association. Successive drafts of the standards were posted online for public comment.

A completed version of the standards was released in 2010, and was adopted by most states within the following months, including New Hampshire.  

Federal officials did not participate in the development of Common Core. However, following the publication of the standards, the U.S. Department of Education offered incentives to states to adopt the standards or a similar system of benchmarks, making it a condition for qualifying for a $3.4 billion grant competition called ‘Race to the Top’.

Status of Common Core in NH

The New Hampshire Board of Education voluntarily adopted the standards for math and English in July 2010, making them part of the state's full roster of curriculum standards, the NH College and Career Ready Standards.

Under New Hampshire law, local schools and districts do not have to adopt the state's standards. However, school districts are all required to administer state performance assessments in order to qualify for federal funding. In New Hampshire, the state Department of Education has opted to use AIR assessments, which are based on the NH College and Career Ready Standards (and therefore Common Core). 

Learn more about standardized testing in New Hampshire schools

Assessment controversy

New Hampshire began using assessments based on Common Core standards in 2015. 

Results from the first year of testing in 2015 showed 58% of New Hampshire students as ‘proficient’ or better in reading, and 46% meeting benchmarks in math. In 2014, the previous assessment system, the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), had marked New Hampshire students 78% proficient in reading and 71% proficient in math.

The drop in performance ratings was cited by critics contending that the tests, or the Common Core itself, was inherently flawed. However, state officials were quick to note that while the tests were based on Common Core standards, the NECAP exams were based on a different system of grade-level expectations. That complicated attempts to make a straight comparison of scores between the two tests. “This information is honest, and it’s saying something very different than the former assessment did,” said Department of Education Commissioner Virginia Barry.

Privacy concerns

Some opponents of Common Core have cited concerns over privacy. The Common Core standards themselves do not require any sort of data tracking or collection.

The concerns may rather be traced back to the 2009 federal State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), which offered education stimulus money to states on the condition that they adopt “college- and career-ready standards” and “establish and use pre-K-through-college and career data systems to track progress”.

NH has its own database for tracking student performance. This system does not include any personally identifiable information such as a students’ name. Instead, student data is collected under a unique, randomly generated identifier. Only aggregate data, not student-level data, may be accessed by the public. 

Legislative activity

The Legislature has been far from silent on Common Core, with various attempts to modify the state’s approach to the standards put forward since 2010. Thus far, any attempts to terminate state use of Common Core or delay implementation have failed. 


"For" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

“New Hampshire should continue to base assessments on Common Core.”

  • Common Core standards were developed through a rigorous, evidence-based process which drew upon benchmarks in states and other countries demonstrating high levels of academic achievement.
  • Common Core standards will help raise achievement levels in states which had previously lowered their standards in order to avoid penalties under the No Child Left Behind Act.
  • Common Core standards are aligned with expectations in college and work environments, and will therefore leave students better prepared to succeed after leaving school.
  • Standards-based learning systems like Common Core encourage deeper understanding and mastery of key skills rather than rote memorization across broader subject areas.
  • Common Core empowers educators to be creative in the classroom, as it does not dictate lessons or curriculum.
  • Common Core’s broad adoption across state lines will increase opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing among educators. 

"Against" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

“New Hampshire should reject the Common Core.”

  • Common Core's standards were created in a vacuum without sufficient input from lawmakers and educators.
  • Common Core represents a ‘one size fits all’ approach to education that does not take into account differences in need and ability across states.
  • Common Core was not properly tested before states began implementing it across the country.
  • Common Core standards were adopted unilaterally by the New Hampshire state Board of Education, without giving the public the opportunity for input.  
  • Though not technically mandated, the Common Core standards effectively constitute a national system of standards, risking federal overreaching into a vital area of state-level authority.
  • According to the Fordham Institute, there are better systems of standards in the United States, which means the prevalence of Common Core may ultimately constitute a ‘race to the middle’. 


Signed by Governor

Provides that a student exempted from taking the statewide assessment by the student's parent or legal guardian shall not be penalized, requires a school district to provide an alternative educational activity during the assessment, and provides that the name of the parent or legal guardian objecting to the assessment shall be excluded from the right-to-know law.

Killed in the House

Prohibits the Department of Education and the state Board of Education from requiring any school or school district to implement the Common Core standards.

Killed in the House

Constitutional amendment that gives the Legislature more control over school funding and education standards. The amendment states, "the General Court shall have the authority and full discretion to define reasonable standards for elementary and secondary public education, to establish reasonable standards of accountability therefor, and to mitigate local disparities in educational opportunity and fiscal capacity. Further, in the exercise thereof, the General Court shall have full discretion to determine the amount of, and methods of raising and distributing, State funding for education."

Killed in the Senate

If a school board votes against adopting the Common Core education standards, this bill requires the board to adopt alternative academic standards that meet or exceed Common Core (or whatever other education standards the state has adopted).

Signed by Governor

Prohibits the Department of Education and the state Board of Education from requiring the implementation of the Common Core standards in any school or school district in this state. The House amended the bill to also require a recommendation from the legislative oversight committee before the Board of Education adopts any new academic standards.

Killed in the Senate

As originally written, this bill would have prohibited the state Board of Education from adopting any rules that require school districts to use specific curriculum or assessments, unless the program is fully paid for by the state or federal government. This bill also would have prevented the Board of Education from adopting any rules that exceed minimum requirements set in law. The bill was amended to instead only allow rules that exceed minimum federal requirements if the rules do not require "unreimbursed expenditures or administrative burdens" on schools.

Killed in the House

Redefines the term "competencies" in relation to education.

Killed in the House

Requires the Department of Education to report on the number of students receiving differentiated aid from the state (such as English language learners) and to compare the statewide assessment results of those students and other students.

Killed in the Senate

Prohibits placing statewide assessment results on student transcripts without consent.

Signed by Governor

Changes some references in the law to academic and educational standards and curriculum.

Signed by Governor

Removes history, geography, civics, and economics from statewide assessment requirements.

Killed in the House

Allows a school district to develop and administer an alternative to the statewide assessment.

Killed in the Senate

Allows parents and guardians to opt their students out of the statewide assessment test, and prohibits schools and the state from penalizing students who do not take statewide assessments.

Signed by Governor

Requires the Department of Education to implement additional procedures to protect student and teacher personally identifiable data from security breaches. The bill also requires the Department of Education to make public certain rights available to parents, legal guardians, and affected students regarding the protection of personally identifiable data.

Signed by Governor

Allows high schools to use the ACT or SAT for the required statewide assessment.

Killed in the Senate

Removes the requirement that school boards comply with the rules and regulations of the state Board of Education, and gives school board greater control over curriculum and assessments.  The bill was amended to only make it clear that local school boards have control over curriculum and standards, so long as those standards meet or exceed the minimum standards set at the state level.

Interim Study

Slightly revises the duty of the legislative committee oversee statewide education assessments, and allows school districts to continue to administer an existing statewide assessment for up to two years following the state Board of Education’s recommendation or implementation of a new annual statewide assessment. The Department of Education notes the proposed legislation is unclear regarding who would be responsible for costs associated with the continuance of the existing assessment, or if the existing assessment would be conducted in parallel with the newly implemented or recommended assessment.

Vetoed by Governor

Prohibits the Department of Education and the state Board of Education from implementing the Common Core standards in any school or school district in this state.

Law Without Signature

Encourages schools to provide instruction in cursive handwriting and the memorization of multiplication tables.

Killed in the Senate

Removes the Board of Education's direct authority over public schools.

Killed in the Senate

Prohibits the commissioner of the Department of Education from initiating or assuming any managerial, supervisory, or operational function, or directing action with district superintendents, principals, or CIA (curriculum, instruction, and assessment), and prohibits the commissioner from initiating or establishing district oversight through an extended cabinet of regional liaisons.

Vetoed by Governor

Requires school districts to adopt a policy allowing a student to be exempted without penalty from any statewide assessment.

Killed in the House

Requires legislative approval of all agreements, contracts, grants, or waivers prior to submission or acceptance involving the Department of Education or the state Board of Education.

Killed in the House

Requests the removal of Virginia Barry, commissioner of the Department of Education, and Paul Leather, deputy commissioner of the Department of Education.

Killed in the Senate

Requires the state Board of Education to evaluate the financial impact of any new college and career readiness standards before implementing the standards, including public hearings.

Tabled in the Senate

Prohibits the state Board of Education from requiring a school to implement the Common Core standards. Districts who refuse Common Core must implement other standards that meet or exceed state minimum educational standards.

Signed by Governor

Establishes a committee to study state education databases that contain student level data.

Tabled in the House

Requires any statewide assessment to be "validated for use with multiple ethnic groups," restricted to questions that can be objectively scored, etc. This bill also requires that no psychological services be provided to a pupil without the consent of a parent or legal guardian.

Killed in the House

Requires the state board of education to report on the fiscal impact of implementing the Common Core Standards, and prohibits the board from implementing Common Core until the board performs a fiscal analysis and conducts a public hearing in each Executive Council district.

Killed in the House

Requires the Department of Education to reimburse school districts for technology necessary to implement the statewide assessment associated with Common Core.

Killed in the House

Establishes a committee to study whether the Department of Education is operating within the law.

Interim Study

Delays the implementation of Common Core for two years, and requires a legislative committee to study the feasibility of implementing Common Core.

Interim Study

Provides that schools are not required to administer assessments that are not valid and appropriate, or which cannot be objectively scored.

Killed in the House

Terminates New Hampshire’s participation in the Common Core educational standards.

Signed by Governor

Establishes a committee to study Common Core.

Should NH continue to base statewide assessments on Common Core standards?



Chris Jay
- Manchester

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 1:19pm

Common Core is problematic because it puts control of what is taught in the hands of a centralized, removed authority, far far away from local educators. Historically, it is a nauseatingly recurring error that pops up again and again - a bureaucrat in a powerful place thinks he can educate your children better than you. One need only look at Common Core math to see how ridiculous this is - if common sense tells us CC math is ludicrous, and we want to teach other more efficient and effective methods, then WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO.

Keith Moulton
- Plaistow

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 8:14am

Agree 100% with President Trump. It is a disaster.

Gordon Avery
- Dover

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 12:29pm

What is the ultimate endgame of Common Core?

Common Core is an insidious attack upon the children/students of the United States. It is the fraudulent use of taxpayers’ money by an unconstitutional department against taxpayers, because, as citizens, we are all stakeholders in how well our children are educated.

As controversial as the deployment of Common Core has been to this point, it can, and will, become much worse, as it becomes fully deployed.

Aside from the data-mining concerns and loss of local control for our schools , a major concern is that Common Core is purposely designed to drive a wedge between children and their parents.

When parents are unable to assist their son and/or daughter with his/her homework and understand what is being taught within his/her classroom, the teacher becomes the ‘de facto’ authority.

Common Core is a zero-sum ‘game’. It is all, or nothing! There is no compromising!

Some students come from families in which their parents believe in God, and the inspired word of God within the Bible. This is an anathema to the government, the media and Common Core.

The planned effect of implementing Common Core is parental authority is to be challenged and eliminated, and any spiritual, moral and ethical tendencies harbored by a student are to be eviscerated.

This may strike many as hyperbole, but only if you haven’t peered into the darkness of the minds of those who are intent upon transforming our educational system from a focus upon the growth of the individual children/students towards the children/students becoming profit centers and mental widgets, to be used for the common good of the collective. A.J. Cameron .

Across the nation, in public and Catholic schools, parents and teachers have found sexually inappropriate materials in the exemplars recommended by Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

New York State - Jen Costabile, an English teacher in the Newburgh school district pointed out that this issue, having sexually graphic material in the hands of students, is not limited to a single troublesome book. “At least three of the books listed on the modules [curriculums] contain passages using inappropriate language and visual imagery that most people would consider pornographic,” for example “Black Swan Green,” “ Make Lemonade.” Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Arizona, acknowledged parental pressure and removed

the sexually explicit novelDreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia. .. a September Associated Press story, Barbara Hansen, a former Sierra Vista elementary school teacher, described the book to the school officials as “child pornography.” “We’re bludgeoning their souls with this kind of material.

A faceless, unaccountable, centralized national CCSS does not know our children. It proceeds upon an unproven theory of reform and social experimentation. Its goal is a standardized American worker—A plug and play worker unit. Mary Jo Anderson is a Catholic journalist and public speaker.

http:// www . bizpacreview . com /2015/05/30/common-core-nightmare-in-science-climate-change-indoctrination-hits-13-states-208863#ixzz3brbx0EEz

Ananta Gopalan
- Hampton

Sun, 05/11/2014 - 9:30pm

Politics has no place in education of our youth.  It must not be a Democrat or Republican issue.

Ever increasing role of partisanship in education in the last fifty years boosted per pupil tax spending in the US to astronomical levels outstripping all other nations of the world. The US student achievement results, however have been flat nationally while below average when compared to the thirty or more top nations in the world.  If one is interested in education and not the political wedge for power that it can provide, one would stop doing what is not working and look at other solutions.  There are other solutions such as Charter schools and providing scholarships to attend schools of choice instead of consigned to attending failing public schools.  We have one party whose platform is to throttle any creativity which would demand busting up the status-quo of public education.

Take the case of Gov. Hassan recently nominating one, Bill Duncan, a political hack of the Democrat Party for the state board of education.  His claim to fame is that he has filed a lawsuit bearing his name to scuttle opportunity for poor students to get educated in an institution of their choice.  It is called the scholarship program.  Now you might ask how that could be against the intent of delivering public education in different ways to the students.  Where is it written that the only legitimate source of education is the monopoly of government established schools, especially in this day and age of personal choices that are available to serve the varied needs?  The simple answer is that the Democrat Party has a revenue stream through its support of union membership of educators and their union dues for which the party pays back by maintaining the status-quo. 

Mr. Duncan is engaged in a law suit against the state in its education policy while being appointed to oversee the education department!  Why would the governor fall into such an obvious lapse of ethics and engage in that type of partisanship?  It is because the party interests come first, students last. 

Mr. Duncan is not the only one that is standing in the way of poor students and their parents being provided with an opportunity to get a better education for them.  Their party leader, Mr. Obama, tried to do away with a similar scholarship program in DC that gave poor African-American kids the opportunity to attend private schools, away from their unsafe public schools that stand at the bottom of academic achievement in spite of the highest per pupil expenditure.  That is not compassion but pure callousness especially when he sends his daughters to the exclusive private school in Washington DC.  Mr. Obama also attended exclusive private school in Hawaii. 

How do we get rid of politics in education?  Do what Sweden did in the mid-1990s.  Sweden gave the education dollars to the students and their parents so that they can choose any school that they want to attend.  The public schools suddenly found that they had to compete for students based on their record.  It put students and parents in charge of their education eliminating one-size-fits-all-for-ever monolith called public schools.  Since it will dry up the election dollar stream from the teachers union, the only way it can come about is for the parents to relentlessly demand for it.  New Hampshire is one of the few states that have adopted competency-based education, doing away with seat-based 1930’s education model.  As long as students go to any school including home study to achieve certain expected level of competency for graduation what does it matter how that student had acquired proficiency?  We must have successful Charter schools and other specialized schools to serve the needs of the students and not just the same old public school that has no real accountability for education. Otherwise, we will not have the high standard of living for our kids and grand-kids.  China is already poised to take over the top economic spot in the world from the US!


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Issue Status

There's been no recent effort to cut the Common Core standards from the NH recommended state standards or to switch to a standardized testing system not based on Common Core. Debate over school curriculum this year looks likely to center on the role of extended learning opportunities. Read more about this debate.


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