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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
PROS & CONS
“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.
“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’.
Prohibits the Department of Education and the state Board of Education from requiring any school or school district to implement the Common Core standards.
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."
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).
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.
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.
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.
Prohibits placing statewide assessment results on student transcripts without consent.
Changes some references in the law to academic and educational standards and curriculum.
Removes history, geography, civics, and economics from statewide assessment requirements.
Allows a school district to develop and administer an alternative to the statewide assessment.
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.
Redefines the term "competencies" in relation to education.
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.
Requires school districts to adopt a policy allowing a student to be exempted without penalty from any statewide assessment.
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.
Requests the removal of Virginia Barry, commissioner of the Department of Education, and Paul Leather, deputy commissioner of the Department of Education.
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.
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.
Establishes a committee to study state education databases that contain student level data.
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.
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.
Allows high schools to use the ACT or SAT for the required statewide assessment.
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.
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.
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.
Encourages schools to provide instruction in cursive handwriting and the memorization of multiplication tables.
Removes the Board of Education's direct authority over public schools.
Delays the implementation of Common Core for two years, and requires a legislative committee to study the feasibility of implementing Common Core.
Provides that schools are not required to administer assessments that are not valid and appropriate, or which cannot be objectively scored.
Terminates New Hampshire’s participation in the Common Core educational standards.
Establishes a committee to study Common Core.
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.
Requires the Department of Education to reimburse school districts for technology necessary to implement the statewide assessment associated with Common Core.
Establishes a committee to study whether the Department of Education is operating within the law.
Should NH continue to base statewide assessments on Common Core standards?
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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