BY: Citizens Count
According to a new ranking from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, New Hampshire is one of just eight states with a strong accountability system for state schools.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is a conservative nonprofit thinktank focused on education policy.
The Institute evaluated state accountability systems for schools in three categories:
- Are annual school ratings clear and intuitive for parents, educators, and the public?
- Does the accountability system encourage schools to focus on all students, not just those who perform poorly on assessment tests?
- Does the state fairly measure and judge all schools, including those with high rates of poverty?
New Hampshire and seven other states rated "strong" in all three categories. No other state in New England rated as highly.
New Hampshire received a strong rating in part because it evaluates school performance based on a combination of:
- How high students score on tests
- How much scores improve for all students over time, and
- How much low-performing students improve in particular.
Federal law requires states to identify schools with the worst assessment test scores and target support for those schools. However, according to the Institute, if a state focuses too much on schools with low scores, it fails to evaluate and hold accountable schools with more affluent and higher-performing students. That's why evaluating improvement over time, for all schools, is important.
Of course, some policymakers argue that New Hampshire and other states rely too heavily on assessment tests when evaluating schools. They argue that tests take away from valuable classroom time and discourage innovative teaching approaches. There can also be challenges comparing test scores year over year.
Other critics object to basing New Hampshire's tests on the Common Core education standards.
Do you think New Hampshire does a good job evaluating and holding schools accountable? Let us know in the comments below.