Reaching Higher NH releases groundbreaking research on student learning in New Hampshire

What are the major factors that influence student learning in New Hampshire? For our youngest learners, it is their family income. But as students get older, the predictors of their academic outcomes expand to include both family income and the educational attainment of the broader community.

Those were among the most consequential findings of Reaching Higher NH’s comprehensive analysis on student learning in New Hampshire. The two-year project, titled “The Whole Picture of Public Education,” looks beyond individual classrooms and schools to explore the family, community, and statewide factors that impact learning, and begins to unpack how we can best support our students. 

“This project is groundbreaking for New Hampshire — both in depth and substance. It provides the public with important research into the factors that impact student learning in our state,” said Reaching Higher NH board co-chair, Tom Rath.

“Our mission is to inform and engage the public in substantive and timely policy issues — equipping New Hampshire citizens with an informed understanding of the scope of public education policy. This project marks a great leap forward in advancing that mission,” Rath continued.

The project explores the factors that influence learning with several tools. Using five stories of New Hampshire families, the report guides readers through the project’s core findings and encourages them to consider their real-life implications. Additionally, interactive data visualizations allow users to explore and ask questions of the data, and community and school district profiles, which will be released later this month, help individuals build a better understanding of their own communities. 

“Education is more comprehensive and nuanced than a school building, a teacher, or even a student in the academic setting–it reflects and involves the entire community and context in which a student is learning and growing up,” said Evelyn Aissa, Reaching Higher NH’s Executive Director. ​”​Our public schools play a unique and vital role in our communities because they must support and prepare ​all of our learners for their futures. ​With this project, we aim to start​ a deeper conversation about the wide range of factors that students navigate as they strive to reach their fullest potential,” Aissa continued.​ 

The report provides a comprehensive introduction into the findings, including the role of the family, the community, economic security, and school resources on learning. The findings underscore the importance of context in learning, highlighting the opportunities and barriers that our children face every day, and explore how our public schools are in a unique and unparalleled position to help every child thrive. 

Interactive data visualizations, available on our website (www.reachinghighernh.org/WholePic), provide individuals with more detailed data in the context of their own communities. 

The project will also include data profiles of each school district and individual town to give readers an in-depth look at what is happening in their communities. The profiles will include student outcome indicators, enrollment trends, community-level indicators, and school finance indicators, with prompts on how they relate to the findings of the broader project. 

The profiles will be publicly available later this month, and the organization anticipates updating the  data profiles and resources annually.

This is the first part of our comprehensive analysis on student learning in New Hampshire, called The Whole Picture of Public EducationCheck out the series: 

Access our other resources and tools:

  • comprehensive report, which uses five stories of New Hampshire families to guide readers through the project’s core findings and encourages them to consider their real-life implications;
  • Interactive data visualizations, which allow users to explore and ask questions of the data;
  • Community and school district profiles, which help individuals build a better understanding of their own communities (to be released soon); and,
  • The methodology of the study, including appendices for our statistical models.

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Established in 2015, Reaching Higher is a nonpartisan 501c3 and has been deeply involved in supporting and expanding innovation and community-engagement in public education to improve outcomes for all NH students and families. Its mission is to provide all New Hampshire children with the opportunity to prepare for college, for immediate careers, and for the challenges and opportunities of life in 21st century NH, by serving as a public education policy and community engagement resource for New Hampshire families, educators, and elected officials.

Download a copy of this press release here.