The NH Dept. of Ed, now running local schools: One parent’s frustration

We have many parents and teachers who contribute to our blog and we want to thank them for helping other people to understand the numerous problems surrounding Common Core.

Most of the time we refrain from sharing the identity of our contributors because teachers for instance, can face bullying from administrators if they speak publicly against this reform effort and expose what is going on in the classroom.

With permission to post……

Just when you thought things were bad enough, it gets worse. We have entered the Orwellian Era when school board members no longer use the plain and primary, or tertiary for that matter, definitions of words in an effort to make any word or phrase have the meaning they desire in place of the plain meaning and intention of the original author. Lest we be convinced, the original author of 2015 School Warrant Article 6 went on the written record time and again to state the intent and purpose of the article in question. Therefore the obfuscation by the school board members is intentional.

But wait, it gets worse. They told us that the Smarter Balance Assessment© (SBA) would provide us more timely results that teachers could access to customize student education plans. Well here it is late October and we are still waiting for the results! Then there is the actual scoring. The SBA is designed to allow comparison across schools, districts, and states as to the efficacy of their educational system. Almost like the SAT’s, GRE’s, etc. The striking difference is that different states have different ‘cut scores’. That is to say, different states have been given different thresholds as to what is acceptable and what needs improvement. That means that the state to state comparisons we were promised will not be possible. What is the criteria for setting the ‘cut scores’ you ask? That is a very good question. Let me know if you can get a straight answer, or any answer, to that question.

But wait, it gets worse. The results have been known for quite some time, yet the NH Department of Education refuses to release the scores. Further, the NH Department of Education has instructed Superintendents to tell school boards and citizens that the reason for the non-release is because they are still scoring the paper and pencil version of the test. The online version of the test is adaptive. That is to say if you answer correctly you move on to more difficult questions. If you answer in error then you continue to receive questions of a similar difficulty. This is not possible on a paper and pencil test. This means that the results of the online and paper and pencil versions should be neither combined nor compared. So why the delay? That is a very good question. Good luck getting an answer that is not evasive.

But wait, it gets worse. The administration, to include the DCS principle and SAU53 superintendent say that the school district will respect a parent’s right to refuse their children(s) participation in the SBA. One school board member is on record saying that parents do not have such a right. Likely there are other members of the board that agree with the aforementioned member but they are unwilling to comment publicly on any matter of importance for reasons known only to themselves. There is no clear policy on the matter and the board refuses to even discuss the matter despite repeated requests for clarification on this point. So the elected body that is responsible for setting policy refuses to perform their duties. This leaves parents in limbo and creates needless confusion. This situation could lead to needless, time consuming, and costly legal action against the district should the wrong tack be taken.

But wait, it gets worse. Imagine an elected body that refuses to perform is primary duties in earnest but will while away their time on perfunctory matters. At least we have very clear definition as to the priority user list for the school gymnasium and the fees for such use! Imagine an elected body that ignores the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box that they were elected to represent.

One has to wonder why we should trust our elected officials when they are so feckless and unresponsive.

Kevin Verville
Deerfield, NH