Dear New Hampshire House Representative,
The 16,000 member NEA-NH supports Smarter Balanced Assessment and the Education Committee recommendation to send HB1432 to interim study.
Yes, Smarter Balanced Assessment is much harder than what educators and kids are used to, but that’s the whole point.
When I go to national NEA meetings and hear of all the pain and suffering in other states, I feel so fortunate that I’m coming back to NH and a close productive working relationship with the Department of Education. Public education is under assault from governor’s offices and legislatures nationally. Across the country we’re losing teachers, and public schools are getting converted to publicly-funded private charters. But New Hampshire is stands apart.
HB1432 in all its forms puts all that at risk. It puts the annual assessment under direct control of the legislature. That is just what political opponents of the Common Core want. The leadership we have seen in that effort is the same group who’s goal is the privatization of public education.
HB1432 instructs the DOE to conduct a major study about alternatives to Smarter Balanced before the state has even had a chance to use it. And it gives the legislature a mandate to select an assessment independent of what the study concludes or what the Department of Education recommends.
The annual assessment is one of the most important educational tools available to teachers to drive school improvement. You should see how teachers and curriculum professionals pore over the results when they come back. They are looking to see where their lessons worked and for opportunities to improve instruction. Many of our members have been involved in Smarter Balanced testing from the beginning. The notion that we would now select such an important assessment tool in an unpredictable political process, that we could end up contracting with Pearson a couple of years from now because they sent the most lobbyists, fills me with dread.
This amendment to HB1432 treats selection of such an important test like changing a suit of clothes. But in reality it’s more like a heart transplant. Just think how important our discussions of NECAP results have been over the past years. Imagine the damage to public education if we were to change tests every couple of years. We would never be able to track improvement in our schools. We would look back on this little bill as the beginning of the end for NH schools.
The Legislature could easily select a test unacceptable to the U.S. Department of Education costing us our waiver and federal funding. The test itself and the details of what it can do and how we are going to use it it’s results were integral to negotiating the waiver. This is not something that can be done in a legislative process or that should be subject to the shifting political winds.
HB1432 throws New Hampshire education standards and testing into a constant state of upheaval and confusion.
Superintendents would be left saying to their principals and teachers, “It’s true that many New Hampshire schools have field tested Smarter Balanced over the past two years, and many of you have taken the practice assessment and begun teaching your children what to expect on the assessment. We’ll take the Smarter Balanced assessment for real for the next two years. In the meantime the Legislature we elect next November will decide what annual assessment we will use down the road, so get yourself and your students ready for even more changes and disruptions.”
The Committee’s recommendation is to send HB1432 to interim study. The Murotake/Ladd amendment to HB 1432 (the committee amendment) will be presented to the House tomorrow, Wednesday, March 26. There is an additional Murotake/Kelly/Ladd floor amendment, but it has all the problems of the committee amendment and more.
The interim study recommendation is supported by the 16,000 member NEA-NH, the superintendents, and the New Hampshire Department of Education.
The amendments are hasty and confusing: NEA-New Hampshire supports the interim study recommendation because this hastily written and confused amendment would leave New Hampshire’s Common Core effort in limbo. New Hampshire teachers would have no guidance as to which assessment or standards they are to prepare their students.
The amendments risk $116 million in federal funding: The amendment could cost the State its waiver and $116 million in federal funding just as the original version of the bill would have done.
The amendments make annual assessment a political choice: Under the amendment, the choice whether to administer the Smarter Balanced assessment would become a political decision made by the next Legislature. It would be subject to testing company lobbying and political manipulation by Common Core opponents.
The amendments do not address over-testing concerns: The amendment does not address the over-testing concerns some legislators have expressed but it does tie the hands of the Department of Education in attempting to address those concerns.
Thank you for your continued support of public education and the student’s of New Hampshire.