Where are NH’s Scores?

Where are New Hampshire’s scores for the Smarter Balanced Assessment? It was administered in Spring 2015 with the promise that results would be available in a timely basis. The state Department of Education indicated teachers could use the results as meaningful feedback to improve student instruction. Governor Hassan spoke of the SBA as an important tool that “educators use to evaluate K-12 student progress.” If this is true, then why have NH’s scores not been released to parents or the public yet?

That’s exactly it; the SBA is not used as a tool to improve student learning.

The state Board of Education and Department of Education had New Hampshire’s results at least since July when the BOE held their retreat. At this meeting they talked about very low scores and expressed concerns how school boards and parents will react.

The NH Department of Education distributed results to the district superintendents with the instructions to withhold them from parents until October, and the public until November after the elections.

Superintendent Debra Livingston of the Manchester School District refuses to distribute the scores, as does Superintendent Mark Conrad of the Nashua School District. Dr. Livingston says that they have to first verify results with enrollment data and compile it with data from another test that won’t be available until October.

Other states, including Delaware, Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut have already published their results. California received preliminary results in May. New Hampshire widely used online adaptive versions of the Smarter Balanced Assessment to facilitate quicker scoring and turnaround for teachers. What is the challenge in releasing compiled results? Why is New Hampshire delaying?

There is speculation that the state Board of Education has yet to determine the “cut scores” for New Hampshire’s assessments. This is how states determine what is a passing/failing score. It is also a way to manipulate the perception of the results.

Cut scores influence the judgment of how our students and schools performed, and will have significant impacts at each layer of the public education system.  The scores for New Hampshire’s Focus (the lowest 10% performing Title 1 schools) or Priority (lowest 5% performing Title 1 schools) Schools will be influenced by the adjusted cut scores. Teacher evaluations are partially based on these assessment results. Students’ admission into special academic programs can be effected. Ultimately the scores will be used to compare New Hampshire to the rest of the country. One of the big selling points of converting to this Common Core aligned test is to create an apples-to-apples comparison of school districts and states. But how can these results be meaningful when they are manipulated by each state via cut scores?

Local districts across the Granite State have their SBA results, but are instructed by the NH Department of Education to withhold them for several weeks. Who are they accountable to — the state DOE or their local school boards?

This delay poses more questions than answers. The state BOE and DOE have a lot of explaining to do.

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