HB 323 — Committee of Conference Update

The Committee of Conference will meet on Monday, June 15th at 9:30am in the Legislative Office Building room 207. The committee members are Representatives Rick Ladd, Glenn Cordelli, Terry Wolf, and Barbara Shaw, and Senators Jeb Bradley, John Reagan, and David Watters.

To date we have seen one amendment, #2104 proposed by Rep. Ladd. Others may be introduced and considered. The committee requires unanimous consent of all seven members. Then the House and Senate need to vote to concur the Committee of Conference’s changes.

Below is amendment #2104. The new language is in sections II and III.

HB 323 (2015) amendment 2104 Committee of Conference 060915-page-001

HB 323 (2015) amendment 2104 Committee of Conference 060915-page-002


  • This amendment substantially shifts the focus of the existing statue from what assessments the legislature requires that school districts administer to students to what the department may decide to require of school districts.
  • This amendment implements PACE without mentioning it by name. It says “upon prior approval of the department” meaning that the state DOE decides the criteria under which districts can choose an alternative to the statewide assessment, and that approval rests solely with the department for which alternatives may be accepted. Currently the only “local option” approved by the department is PACE.
  • It also grants the department authority to “REQUIRE” school districts to implement PACE.   Under this amendment the department may “require” PACE, which is supposedly a “voluntary” alternative assessment program.  This is consistent with the department’s assurance in its recent ESEA Waiver to transition all school districts over to PACE.
  • With this new authority the department can align its approval requirements to the current or any subsequent ESEA Waiver, eliminating the need for further legislative review or approval.
  • Without mentioning Common Core, Competencies, or the ESEA Waiver, this amendment assures all three will be fully implemented.


  • RSA 186:8 did not grant the department and the state board authority over assessment design and approval as claimed by Rep. Ladd in his amendment footnotes.  It authorizes the state board to develop rules consistent with statute on minimum standards, administrative duties, certification, teacher requirements, advanced certification standards, appeals, and high school math competencies.
  • RSA 193-E:3-c III authorizes the department to establish a task force for developing a performance-based accountability system. It is supposed to be “one method,” not the only one, that a “school MAY use.” This underscores that this new system is intended to be optional among a range of alternatives.


  • How does this amendment REDUCE Smarter Balanced testing costs? Only PACE districts will have a DECREASE in Smarter Balanced tests, but that’s immediately offset by a significant INCREASE in weekly competency-based Common Core aligned assessments costs for K-12, not just grades 3-8. Non-PACE districts will have no reduction in costs for Smarter Balanced testing.
  • Who pays for Smarter Balanced tests if a district refuses to transition to PACE? Do the districts themselves have to absorb this cost?
  • If the department can “require” districts to transition to PACE, is this not still an unfunded mandate?
  • Transitioning to PACE reduces State testing costs while significantly INCREASING testing costs for districts.   Isn’t this a downshifting of costs upon districts?  Is that why PACE is nominally classified as “voluntary” in order to avoid an unfunded state mandate?


Rep. Rick Ladd
Rep. Glenn Cordelli
Rep. Terry Wolf
Rep. Barbara Shaw
Sen. Jeb Bradley
Sen. John Reagan
Sen. David Watters

For more information about HB 323, reference the following articles.
Update on HB 323 — Heading to Committee of Conference
HB 323 — A Victory for Parents and Local Control
HB 323 Compromise in Jeopardy
Update on HB 323, the Waiver Bill
Things Come Apart So Easily
Debunking the Myths of HB 323, the NCLB Waiver Bill
HB 323 Action Alert — Save Our Kids
Press Conference on HB 323, the NCLB Waiver Bill
HB 323, The Most Important Education Bill of the Year
PACE: the Next Educational Reform from the NH DOE

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