NH floats ambitious education plan to secure federal dollars

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New Hampshire’s Department of Education has been working on the state plan to comply with the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces No Child Left Behind (check out our podcast, Breaking Down the ESSA, here, and more ESSA coverage here).

The DOE presented the plan to the House Education Committee on August 29, according to the Union Leader:

The goals outlined in the new state plan are ambitious. The percentage of students who display proficiency in reading will have to go from an estimated 63 percent in 2018 to 74 percent in 2025; and from 48 percent to 53 percent in math. The high school graduation rate will have to go from 90 percent in 2018 to nearly 94 percent in 2025.

The No Child Left Behind law, which many viewed as unrealistic, called for 100 percent proficiency across the board by 2014. While NCLB set national standards and consequences for non-performing schools, the new law gives states that power, subject to federal approval of the state plan…

“When you look at the plan, there are three things I’m very excited about,” he [NH DOE Commissioner, Frank Edelblut] said.

The first is what Edelblut called “a seismic shift” in how schools are evaluated. Under the old system, schools were rated on the number of students who reached proficiency goals in English and math as measured by standardized tests.

Under the proposed plan, only 40 percent of a school’s rating will be based on the number of students who are proficient, while 60 percent will be based on the rate of growth in scores from year to year.

If the students’ scores consistently rise, Edelblut says, “We will eventually get them to the outcomes they need.”

The second is a new breakdown of school-level targets, in addition to statewide goals.

“Schools that are starting out at a low level are going to be measured on how they grow off that level,” Edelblut said, “and schools at a high level will continue to have to grow.”

The third feature of the plan is a requirement that students achieve at least two out of 10 requirements to be considered ready for work or college by the time they graduate high school.

They include a grade of C or better in a dual-enrollment course; SAT scores meeting or exceeding 480 in reading and 530 in math; or completion of a N.H. Career Pathway program.

“With No Child Left Behind, everyone had to get to 100 percent proficiency in 13 years,” said Heather Gage, director of instruction in the Department of Education. “You could get to 98 percent, and the next three years be considered a failing school, and it was all based on proficiency. There was no incentive for growth or other measurement factors…”

Gage says the NH Education Department put the plan out for public comment in May and June, and received more than 500 responses. “We also did regional listening tours,” she said. “We sat down with many stakeholders. We heard loud and clear, ‘Make sure families are represented in this plan.'”

Source: State floats ambitious education plan to secure federal dollars | Union Leader