New federal education law gives NH more control over our schools, say Senators Shaheen and Ayotte and Commissioner Barry

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In a Union Leader piece, New Hampshire Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) praised the new federal education reform bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act, that shared overwhelming biparisan support in both the U.S. House and Senate. The bill puts states in much greater control of their education systems and adds funding for early childhood education programs, school-based mental health programs, and STEM programs like New Hampshire’s FIRST robotics competition. The senators told the Union Leader:

“This marks a fundamental shift in the way the federal government looks at education,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. “It gives New Hampshire more control over how our schools are run. While states will be required to adopt challenging academic standards, they are not required to use any particular set of standards like Common Core, and teacher evaluation is not going to be tied to student test scores.”

“This bipartisan bill will return accountability and responsibility for education decisions back to where it belongs — in states, local school districts and classrooms,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

Both senators were especially supportive of the provision that expands the PACE pilot program to other states, where New Hampshire has been the sole state to participate in it. PACE reduces the number of standardized tests taken by students and replaces them with locally-managed, competency-based assessments. New Hampshire Education Commissioner Virginia Barry and Scott McGilvray, President of the NEA in New Hampshire, also praised the state’s PACE program:

“This is going to give teachers more classroom instructional time,” said Scott McGilvray . “They were spending weeks and weeks not only administering standardized tests, but preparing students for taking those tests. This is going to turn that around.”

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“Our pilot study in competency-based education is moving the nation forward, focusing on our children’s ability to demonstrate their knowledge and skills,” [Commissioner Virginia Barry] said.

Indeed, New Hampshire can take pride in the fact that key accountability provisions of the new ESSA – provisions providing states significant flexibility in designing their accountability systems – were modeled on New Hampshire’s widely respected PACE pilot program that provides for local management of integrated classroom assessments as an alternative to some annual standardized testing.

Read the full article here.