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NH student test scores see across-the-board gains

The Department of Education released the 2015-2016 statewide assessment results, and they show improvement in almost every grade and subgroup, according to the Union Leader.

Statewide, the number of students who met the performance benchmarks on Smarter Balanced increased 3% in both language arts and math. Eleventh-grade language arts saw the biggest gain: a six-point increase to 66%. In a statement, Commissioner Virginia Barry said that it’s the dedication of teachers and schools’ transition to competency education that has made the difference. More results follow:

  • 57% of third graders met or exceeded the achievement benchmarks in math, a 5 point increase.
  • 48% of fifth graders met or exceeded the benchmarks in math, a 4 point increase.
  • Students in Title 1 schools that achieved the benchmark increased to 36%, from 30% in 2014-2015.

Last year was the second year that New Hampshire used Smarter Balanced statewide. It was the first year that the students took the SAT in lieu of the Smarter Balanced tests. And, it was also the first year that the Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) results were included in statewide reporting. Commissioner Virginia Barry commented on the PACE results in a press release:

“The results of NH’s first-in-the-nation innovative assessment and accountability pilot demonstrates that NH educators can fully participate in and manage their accountability and assessment system with state level support and review. Rigorous comparability studies completed by the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment in Dover, NH, show that assessment results produced by NH educators are as rigorous in evaluating student performance as state or national assessments.”

Despite the gains, there are still gaps in achievement. Fewer male students met the performance benchmarks in language arts. Special education students are still behind. But the Department of Education said in the press release that they’re acknowledging the gaps and are working with districts to address them.

Carl Ladd, executive director of the New Hampshire School Administrators Association, stressed the importance of keeping the results in perspective, given it’s only the second year of the Smarter Balanced test:

“Anytime you implement a change, it’s three to five years before you see a result,” Ladd said, adding that he hopes state officials keep Smarter Balanced, despite its flaws.

Read the full article here. Download the full results here.

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