Tom Raffio reflects on State Board of Ed’s last ten years

Concord Monitor

Tom Raffio, outgoing State Board of Education chair, penned a farewell op-ed in the Concord Monitor yesterday. He outlined the work the board has done over the past decade, and, highlighted the collaboration and partnerships fostered throughout his term.

I’m most proud of the working relationship we built between the board and the department and, most importantly, with parents, educators, and businesses throughout the state.

Raffio reflected on the movement towards personalized competency education, and the PACE program, which put NH in the national spotlight as a leader in education.

This is a big change for our whole school system. It’s a new way of thinking about each student’s progress through school, how grading works and many other parts of how our schools work. The biggest change our students see as our schools move in this direction is that teachers no longer move through a book delivering lectures on one chapter after another. They now coach students in setting goals and taking charge of their own learning.

This is a big change and has taken years but our Performance Assessment for Competency Education (PACE) initiative has accelerated our move to personalization by providing what many teachers consider the best professional development they have ever had in how to challenge their students in a way that inspires them to excel. As a result, New Hampshire is considered the leader in what has become a national movement toward personalized competency education.

Raffio went on to acknowledge that the relationships cultivated with NH educators, the Department of Education, and others, made issues like standards adoption and charter school progress collaborative processes that respected all stakeholders.

So unlike the trouble many other states had when introducing the new standards, New Hampshire teachers were in strong support. They knew that the new standards and annual assessment would not be used against them. Although we had limited budgets to support teachers, they dove in on their own time and NEA-NH provided 30 teacher leaders to train teachers all over the state in using the new standards.

Our teachers, especially the New Hampshire Science Teachers Association, played a key role again when, after years of preparation, we adopted the Next Generation Science Standards last November. The new standards had already proved their value and were in use in the vast majority of science classrooms in the state so adoption was based on extensive local experience. So when the new commissioner pushed to begin a new yearlong rewrite of the science standards, the board was able to make clear in a unanimous vote that it is committed to our existing standards and will not review them in the foreseeable future.

We can be proud of our 100 percent home-grown charter schools, including our Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, which must be the most successful online charter school in the country. 

He closed by noting his confidence in the new leadership team.

Read the full article here.