Education Bills Scheduled for Week of January 18, 2016

The following is the legislative schedule for the week of January 18, 2016 — it’s a big week! Unless otherwise marked, the bills are scheduled for a public hearing which is the opportunity to provide testimony or commentary. This is the best chance to communicate with the committee members and share your opinion on the bills. The public may sign the sheet (near the room entrance) to indicate support or opposition to any bill. The public may give written or spoken testimony (it’s helpful to provide copies for each member plus the committee secretary) and indicate that on the sign-in sheet. If you are unable to attend the hearings email the committee, or better yet, call them individually and indicate if you are a constituent. Contact information for the House and Senate Education Committees are at the end of this post. The public has until the executive session to make an impact on how the committee will vote, which is very influential when the entire body votes. Exec sessions may happen at any time without advanced notice, so prompt action is highly encouraged.

Please note that Senate Rules, Enrolled Bills and Internal Affairs Committee will soon exec SB 354, relative to how the DOE commissioner and deputy commissioner are appointed, and SB 355, how BOE members are appointed. There is still a brief opportunity to contact them about these bills. The committee’s contact information is also at the end.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016
9:30 a. m. HB 1229, prohibiting the inclusion of statewide assessment results in a student’s transcript without consent.
position — SUPPORT
information — This is a reasonable privacy protection for students. The statewide assessment is not designed as a measurement for individual performance. It was originally created for school district comparisons as well as school and teacher accountability. This bill keeps the assessments from being used for a purpose for which they were not intended.

10:00 a.m. HB 1652-FN-A, establishing a teacher preparation for mathematics education scholarship program.
10:30 a.m. HB 1189-FN, relative to aid granted to Dartmouth College to assist indigent students from New Hampshire.

11:15 a.m. HB 1638-FN-L, relative to the allocation of lottery revenues to schools.
position — SUPPORT
information — Currently only 26% of money from NH’s lottery goes to schools, although the original intention was to have all revenue go to education when passed in 1963. This bill is more in keeping with the original design of NH’s lottery.

12:45 p.m. HB 1604-FN-A-L, relative to exceptional student education programs and providing funding therefor.
position — OPPOSED
information — Although well intended, this bill will put a significant financial burden on all school districts to test for gifted students and provide educational enrichment for them. This is not funded through federal money, so the burden is entirely on local and state funding. (The funding is part of HB 1630, with an additional $697 for each student participating in the program.) Additionally, the bill is vague regarding how a student qualifies as an “exceptional” student. There is no one test or evaluation process; instead multiple methods are recommended, only a couple of which are included in this bill. Relying on classroom performance is not sufficient per the National Association for Gifted Children. Regular classroom teachers do not receive training to identify or teach gifted students. The standardized tests are one way to identify gifted students, but they are not customarily administered in NH schools; therefore, this will incur more expenses just to identify qualifying students. Also, the presumption that 10% of NH students are exceptional is not substantiated. The National Center for Education Statistics has NH’s gifted elementary and secondary school population at a quarter of that estimation (2.6% as of 2006). Just as children with IQ scores two standard deviations below the norm need special education support, giftedness is often scored as two standard deviations above norm, meaning the top 2.5 to 3% of students, not the top 5 to 10%. The broadest definition is supported at 6% by the National Association for Gifted Children. Finally, this bill is very vague regarding what additional enrichment should be provided to students. Again, gifted advocates recommend a variety of resources, depending on each student’s unique abilities and interests. Exceptional and gifted students need more support, but this bill does not accomplish it. There is nothing in current statute that prohibits districts from offering educational enrichment to their advanced and gifted students; in fact, a few already offer modest programs. They are usually limited by funding, but this bill does not address that issue, HB 1630 does.

1:30 p.m. HB 1630-FN-L, relative to calculating the base cost of an adequate education.

2:15 p.m. HB 1667-FN-L, repealing the statutes authorizing the department of education.

Executive session on pending legislation may be held throughout the day, time permitting, from the time the committee is initially convened.

9:00 a.m. SB 322, relative to the provision and administration of bronchodilators, spacers, and nebulizers in schools.
9:20 a.m. SB 312, relative to epinephrine administration in independent schools.
9:40 a.m. SB 314, relative to the membership of the higher education commission.
10:00 a.m. SB 326, relative to the membership of the community college system of New Hampshire board of trustees.
10:20 a.m. SB 371, relative to school lunch meal payment policies.
10:40 a.m. SB 372, establishing a fund to provide financial assistance to school districts for school lunch programs.


Thursday, January 21, 2016
9:30 a.m. HB 1121, relative to the academic areas that comprise the statewide assessment.

**9:50 a.m. HB 1240, relative to alternatives to the statewide assessment.
position — SUPPORT
information — This is another mixed-bag bill. On the positive side, this bill reduces testing in the elementary school years. It also allows for districts to use a different test, with approval from the NH Department of Education, in years the statewide assessment is not administered. On the negative side, it also enables the controversial PACE program to be selected and because it is currently the only one the state DOE accepts and funds, it is likely to be the only alternative they approve. This is a local control issue and, at least on paper, allows districts to have more autonomy. The concern is that the state DOE would not approve alternatives other than PACE.

**10:30 a.m. HB 1338, relative to student exemption from the statewide assessment.
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill is in response to increasing demand from parents to refuse their child’s participation in mandatory testing, including the statewide assessments that are aligned with College and Career Readiness Standards (aka Common Core). This bill acknowledges parents’ rights to direct their children’s education. If the student does not participate in the assessment, this bill requires schools to provide an alternative educational activity which can be as simple as a study hall or free reading time. This bill also protects the schools from any penalty from non-participation. We already have seen scores adjusted for students who did not take the 2015 Smarter Balanced Assessment. Nothing in this bill changes the requirement for schools to administer the exam and make it available to all students for compliance with federal waiver conditions.

11:00 a.m. HB 1393, requiring the department of education to report statewide assessment results for school districts receiving certain state aid.

*11:30 a.m. HB 1366, relative to the definition of educational competencies.
position — SUPPORT
information — This bill would define competencies as having specific single-subject academic content areas instead of those “across academic content domains.” This does not change which academic areas are included or part of statewide assessments.

**1:00 p.m. HB 1239, relative to certain terminology in the education statutes.
position — OPPOSE
information — This is a mixed-bag of good and bad changes. Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good. The bill changes the statewide assessment to a measure of student performance, which goes beyond the original design of the assessments (in RSA 193-C:1, II); and changes “academic standard” to not only what a student should know, but also should be able to do, making it about a skill instead of knowledge (in RSA 193-C:1, II and RSA 193-E:2, section VI, b). This also effectively enables the conversion to competency-based education along with PACE, the experimental and integrated assessment program.

1:45 p.m. HB 1411, making civics mandatory in public schools.
position — OPPOSE
information — This is another well-meaning, but redundant bill. NH already requires a 1/2 credit of US and NH history and civics for high school graduation (Ed 306, the Minimum Standards for Public School Approval). It is also unlikely this bill would achieve the sponsors’  goals. Textbooks already have a bias that teach the Constitution is a “living document” and contain many critical omissions and factual inaccuracies and these resources would be the ones used in a civics unit. Similarly the redesigned AP US History course has received wide-spread criticism. If parents want their children to have a different exposure to history and civics, then they can use RSA 186:11, IX-c  (in many school districts as Policy IGE) that allow parents to opt out of controversial materials in the classroom at their own expense. There are several excellent and free resources available, including iCivics developed by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

2:05 p.m. HB 1379, amending the requirement to use English in schools.
2:25 p.m. HB 1365, requiring public schools to observe New Hampshire constitution day.

Executive session on pending legislation may be held throughout the day, time permitting, from the time the committee is initially convened.

To contact the entire House Education Committee, you may send one email to

The following is the Senate Education Committee‘s contact information.
John Reagan, Chairman
(603) 271-4063

Nancy Stiles, Vice Chairman
(603) 271-3093 

Kevin Avard
(603) 271-4151

Molly Kelly
(603) 271-3207

David Watters

The following is the Senate Rules, Enrolled Bills and Internal Affairs Committee‘s contact information. This is the committee considering SB 354, relative to how the DOE commissioner and deputy commissioner are appointed, and SB 355, how BOE members are appointed.
Russell Prescott, Chairman
(603) 271-2111

Kevin Avard
(603) 271-4151

Jeb Bradley
(603) 271-2609 

Donna Soucy
(603) 271-3207

Martha Fuller-Clark
(603) 271-3076