BY: Citizens Count
New Hampshire has the final results for last year's standardized assessment tests, and students in grades 3 through 8 scored lower in both math and English.
Are students and teachers failing?
Overall there was a 3% decline in students scoring proficient in English, and a 2% decline in math.
At first glance, it seems there was a shortcoming in teaching last year. Usually scores improve year over year as students and teachers become more familiar with a test.
Or is the test to blame?
Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut pointed out that every state that uses the Smarter Balanced test saw lower scores last year, except California. That might suggest the test is to blame for lower scores, not students and teachers.
"We are obviously concerned about the decline in student performance and will be working closely with schools to understand the underlying drivers. It is interesting that all of the states that participated in the Smarter Balanced consortium for 2016-2017 saw a similar decline in their English language arts results, except California, which stayed even."
- Commissioner Frank Edelblut
Tony Alpert, executive director of the states-run Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, says that the test scores accurately reflect student achievement.
"There is no reason to believe there was anything wrong with the administration of the test. ... We have every reason to believe data represent what students know and did."
A new test, new scores coming
Whether or not there are problems with the Smarter Balanced test may be irrelevant, because the New Hampshire Department of Education is developing its own, new assessment to use next year.
Supporters of the new test say it will take lest class time than the Smarter Balanced test. The new test will also incorporate input from New Hampshire teachers.
However, analysts caution it will be unreliable to compare results from the new test to results from the Smarter Balanced test. That will make it even more difficult to track the progress of different schools.
The new test will also still be based on the Common Core education standards, which have many critics.
Have your say
What do you think the lower test scores say about New Hampshire students? Do you think the state is adequately tracking the progress of schools through testing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.