Category Archives: Testing

Has the NH Commissioner Been Lying to Parents?

Now that the abysmal Smarter Balanced scores have come out, the spinning has just begun.

The Common Core soldiers in the state are spinning these results to avoid some of the tough questions that come from this testing scheme.

In the past, New Hampshire under Commissioner Virginia Barry, students took the NECAP. Now they are taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Under the NECAP, New Hampshire students showed relatively high levels of proficiency in the core subjects. Those proficiency levels just DROPPED.

What does this mean for children who took the NECAP and those who recently took the SBA?
Does this mean, as one activist in New Hampshire recently said, the NH Department of Education has been lying to parents in the past?

While they SPIN these results, it’s important to note how none of these bureaucrats take responsibility for any of this.

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VT Board of Ed Trashes Common Core Smarter Balanced Test

Has anyone heard a peep from the New Hampshire Board of Education on this?
Oh that’s right, the Smarter Balanced scores have been sent to the Superintendents with the direction NOT to share that information with school board members (the ones that hire and fire them) or the community until November 12th.
Only Nashua and Alton’s Superintendent released the preliminary scores.

As we are looking at scores plummet due to the flawed assessments that show our schools are failing, Vermont’s Board of Education took a step to notify parents on how bad the Smarter Balanced Assessment is.

According to the blog, “Wait What,” NEWS FLASH: Vermont State Board of Education Trashes Common Core SBAC Test.

Does anyone think the New Hampshire Board of Education will be equally honest with parents? Our advice: DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH!!!

MEMORANDUM FROM VERMONT STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

TO: Parents and Guardians

FROM: VT State Board of Education

SUBJECT: Vermont Comprehensive Assessment Program

DATE: 11/4/15

You have received, or will receive in the near future, a report of your child’s standardized “Smarter Balanced” test results from the Vermont Comprehensive Assessment Program. This report is provided in the national assessment consortium’s format. We are working on a friendlier and more appropriate presentation for next year.

Tests are useful if used within the limits of their design, but they cannot provide you with a comprehensive picture by themselves. The State Board and Agency of Education support using a broad range of tools, measures and methods to help you and educators understand and improve your child’s learning.

We call your attention to the box labeled “scale score and overall performance.” These levels give too simplistic and too negative a message to students and parents. The tests are at a very high level. In fact, no nation has ever achieved at such a level. Do not let the results wrongly discourage your child from pursuing his or her talents, ambitions, hopes or dreams.

These tests are based on a narrow definition of “college and career ready.” In truth, there are many different careers and colleges, and there are just as many different definitions of essential skills. In fact, many (if not most) successful adults fail to score well on standardized tests. If your child’s scores show that they are not yet proficient, this does not mean that they are not doing well or will not do well in the future. (emphasis added by Wait, What?)

We also recommend that you not place a great deal of emphasis on the “claims” or sub-scores. There are just not enough test items to give you reliable information.

Essentially, these test scores best serve to show the progress that our schools are making, and to help teachers adapt their curriculum to fit the needs of their students.

As a parent, encourage your child to reach as high as he or she can. Let her or him know that they are worthy and capable. Keep track of how well your child is doing over time and use that information to help your child grow as a learner. Meet with your child’s teachers so that they understand your child and so you can work as a team.

We must give every student a thorough and comprehensive education, and provide the nurturing and support each child needs to grow into an effective, productive, and self-directed citizen. In turn, these young people must be the strong parents for the generations of Vermonters yet to come.

The FRAUDULENT Smarter Balanced Proficiency Scores?

http://eduresearcher.com/2015/09/08/openletter/

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is the standardized assessment the New Hampshire Department of Ed chose to force upon the public and charter schools in New Hampshire.

The computer adaptive national SBAC test developed by AIR has zero validity and reliability data. Here are the comments of testing specialist Dr. Doug McCrae presented to the California State Board of Education on 9/3/15:

“My name is Doug McRae, a retired testing specialist from Monterey.

The big question for Smarter Balanced test results is not the delay in release of the scores, or the relationships to old STAR data on the CDE website, but rather the quality of the Smarter Balanced scores now being provided to local districts and schools. These scores should be valid reliable and fair, as required by California statute as well as professional standards for large scale K-12 assessments. When I made a Public Records Request to the CDE last winter for documentation of validity reliability and fairness information for Smarter Balanced tests, either in CDE files or obtainable from the Smarter Balanced consortium, the reply letter in January said CDE had no such information in their files. I provided a copy of this interchange to the State Board at your January meeting. There has been no documentation for the validity, reliability, or fairness for Smarter Balanced tests released by Smarter Balanced, UCLA, or CDE since January, as far as I know.

Statewide test results should not be released in the absence of documented validity reliability and fairness of scores. Individual student reports should not be shared with parents or students before the technical quality of the scores is documented. But, the real longer lasting damage will be done if substandard information is placed in student cumulative academic records to follow students for their remaining years in school, to do damage for placement and instructional decisions and opportunities to learn, for years to come. To allow this to happen would be immoral, unethical, unprofessional, and to say the least, totally irresponsible. I would urge the State Board to take action today to prevent or (at the very least) to discourage local districts from placing 2015 Smarter Balanced scores in student permanent records until validity reliability and fairness characteristics are documented and made available to the public.”

It’s important to note that the tests developed by AIR include a focus on controversial social issues instead of academics.

We continue to support quality ACHIEVEMENT TESTS (versus assessments that focus on behaviors, attitudes, dispositions, etc.) If you want to know your child’s proficiency in the core academic subjects, have your children take an achievement test outside the school district.
Suggestions:
Iowa Basic Skills Test
Stanford Achievement Test
California Achievement Test
NON-COMMON CORE

NASHUA Smarter Balanced Scores RELEASED: It’s Not Good?

The New Hampshire Dept. of Education directed Superintendents across New Hampshire to withhold the data on the preliminary proficiency scores from the Smarter Balanced (Common Core) Assessment.

Parents and school board members around the state began asking, who do the Superintendents work for? Commissioner Barry OR the local community that hires and fires them? Once again, we see the Commissioner directing our Superintendents as if they work for her. Commissioner Barry continues to pit NH Superintendents against the people who pay their salaries.

The Nashua School Board recently directed their Superintendent, Mark Conrad, to release the preliminary scores. As we predicted, the low scores are shocking.

We do want to remind everyone that these are PRELIMINARY SCORES and are subject to change, however these initial scores do not look good at all.

This might be a startling revelation for many people, but can you rely on these scores to determine if your child or school is not performing well?

We’ve posted information on how the Smarter Balanced Assessment is FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED. We’ve shared information from assessment experts who’ve reminded us that this assessment has NOT been independently validated. We know the Nashau teachers have informed the community that this assessment comes with serious problems.

So why does Governor Hassan, Commissioner Barry and the NH Department of Education, continue to force this upon our schools and students? When will they choose an achievement TEST that is validated and tests knowledge? Why do they continue to force our schools to use psychometric assessments that assess our child’s values, attitudes and beliefs?

The New Hampshire Department of Education operates with a standardized assessment that no one can rely upon for good data and yet this is the information that will be collected on your children and used against them and your teachers too. This was a SET UP FOR FAILURE for your children and teachers!

INCOMPETENT? That’s what we are beginning to believe.

BRAVO to the Nashua school board members who reminded everyone who employs the Superintendent in their school district. They were right to criticize the Commissioner for her continued over-reach of authority. (source: Nashua BoE Meeting 10/13/15 Minute 2:54:00 to 2:57:11)

SBAC prelim release to BOE Oct 2015

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.

Respectfully,
Kevin Verville
Deerfield, NH

Is the New Hampshire Commissioner of Ed Misleading Parents Again?

If you click on the link below, you will find more praise for the Common Core Standards and assessments. However, are they telling us the truth? Are they misleading us again? Are they refusing to give us the facts? Are they incapable of providing critical information on the Common Core standards and assessments?
You be the judge….

Q: What kind of change in results can states expect with higher standards and these new assessments?
A: As students have more years of instruction aligned to new standards, results typically improve. For example, in Kentucky, the first state to begin using the Common Core standards, student test scores went down at first. But, over the next four years as teachers and students worked to meet higher standards, the percentage of high school graduates meeting the state’s benchmark for college and career readiness increased from 34 percent to 62 percent. There also have been impressive gains in ACT sores in Tennessee since adoption of more rigorous standards. And in California, where students have taken an early assessment of college readiness and participated in 12th grade courses to improve their preparation since 2007, the proportion of students needing remediation at the California State University has dropped from 56 percent to 43 percent.

http://nh.portal.airast.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Smarter-Balanced-Achievement-Levels-QA.pdf

Here is what Commissioner Barry left OUT of the propaganda ………
FROM THE Bluegrass Institute:
http://www.bipps.org/kentucky-educations-shaky-statistics/#more-14497

Do Kentucky’s schools deserve to be, “…congratulated for their continued progress on graduating more students with the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in the 21st century,” as Interim Kentucky Commissioner of Education Kevin Brown claims?
Sadly, Holliday and others are actually hitting on sour notes, using “apples to oranges” comparisons in what they consistently mislabel as the state’s “College and Career Readiness” rates. Aside from presenting numbers that are not comparable over the time period cited, a growing number of people think Kentucky Education’s latest numbers themselves are a shaky.
Furthermore, when the college/career ready numbers are tied to those graduation rate figures, it turns out that a gruesomely large proportion of our students are leaving high school with only a hollow piece of paper. Thousands being declared ready are not really getting the educations they need.
How many kids are we talking about? Even if we accept both Kentucky Education’s college/career rates and graduation rate data as accurate, the Bluegrass Institute estimates that more than 40 percent of the students who started the ninth grade with the high school class of 2015 failed to leave school with an adequate preparation for life. Some of those who failed dropped out of high school, but many were socially promoted all the way to an empty diploma.

BOWLING GREEN DAILY NEWS
http://www.bgdailynews.com/news/groups-question-school-standards/article_2524e644-e523-5fd8-a9e6-04131fe36dd9.html
Findings from two groups suggest the Kentucky Department of Education’s standards for preparing students for college and adult life are lacking and that the department’s statistics are misleading.

Both the Bluegrass Institute and the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission’s Office of Education Accountability recently released reports critical of KDE’s performance.

KDE’s willingness to put “spin above substance” makes its data misleading, said Jim Waters, president of the Bluegrass Institute. The institute “works with Kentuckians, grassroots organizations and business owners to advance freedom and prosperity by promoting free-market capitalism, smaller government and the defense of personal liberties,” according to its website.

“We have questions about whether we’re really getting the needed information to really determine how Kentucky has performed in its college and career readiness arena,” Waters said. “Have these improvements actually occurred, or has the bar been lowered to give the appearance of improvements?”

Goodbye “Local Control” of Education in New Hampshire

We continue to question the over-reach by the New Hampshire Dept. of Education as the Commissioner seems to believe the Superintendents work for her and not the local communities that pay their salaries.

The preliminary Smarter Balanced scores were recently released to all of the Superintendents throughout New Hampshire. However the Commissioner directed the Superintendents NOT to release this information to the local school boards or taxpayers. Once again, Commissioner Barry is treating our paid employee as if they work for her.

Some board members have reported asking their Superintendent for this information, only to be told NO, they would follow the guideline set forth by the Commissioner.

Sucking up to the Commissioner is not a bad idea because we know Dr. Livingston, Superintendent in Manchester, received a recommendation from Commissioner Barry when applying for her job. However it’s important that school boards remind their Superintendent that they still work for them.

Superintendents attend a “closed door” monthly meeting with the Commissioner where school board members have no access to public records.

We ask school board members again, who does your Superintendent work for?

We expect the Smarter Balanced scores to be released soon even though the DoE promised fast results. We’re not sure when “fast results” translated into, 6 months later.

Once the results of the Smarter Balanced scores are released, one would expect the leader of their school, the Superintendent, to offer their honest opinion on those results. In other words, what do they honestly think about the assessment? Are the scores, which are expected to be worse than the previous years under the NECAP, accurate? Is the Smarter Balanced Assessment fundamentally flawed as many have described? (See the examples below)

What we’ve uncovered is a list of “talking points” that were given to Superintendents by the NH DoE. Are our Superintendents so ill equipped that they cannot provide honest commentary on the results? Do they need the DoE to do their “thinking” for them?

Parents want honest answers for the poor scores that are about to be released. They want to know if they are accurate. They want to know if the assessment is flawed or if the school has indeed been failing our children.

We tend to believe the assessment itself is NOT a good indicator of how well your school is performing. We’ve looked at the critical views on this assessment and have NO confidence in the results. This is why we encourage parents to REFUSE this assessment for their children.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a data gatherer on your children. IT does not offer you information on whether your child is proficient in the core subjects. If you want that kind of information, have your child tested outside the school system using an achievement test.

Assessments are for assessing your child’s behavior, attitudes and values. An achievement TEST will measure their academic knowledge.

Ask home-schoolers what they use to test their children. Some reliable achievement tests include; The Iowa Basic Skills Test, Stanford Achievement Test, or the California Achievement Test. Look for the non-Common Core aligned achievement test.

Next ask your Superintendent for honest feedback on the Smarter Balanced Assessment and question why they would need the DoE to issue “talking points” on the results.

NH Talking Points (FINAL 8.31.15)

Why the Smarter Balanced Common Core Math Test Is Fatally Flawed

Doctor Gary Thompson (Licensed Child Psychologist) Smarter Balanced Assessment NOT Valid

NH Families for Education: Considerations for School Districts Before Administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment

CALL TO ACTION: New Hampshire Dept. of Ed., RELEASE THE TEST SCORES!!

A CALL TO ACTION: URGENT
Send the following message to ALL of our State Reps. and Senators ASAP:

The NH Department of ED is REFUSING to release the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores!!! While other states have released the preliminary scores, NH is REFUSING to release these scores until November 12th. JUST AFTER ELECTION DAY.

Are they playing POLITICS with test scores? Are the proficiency levels SO bad, that they have to wait until AFTER local school board elections?

SEND AN EMAIL TO:
HReps@leg.state.nh.us
Senators@leg.state.nh.us

Ask the legislators to call upon Commissioner Barry to RELEASE the Smarter Balanced Assessment SCORES IMMEDIATELY.
Stop playing politics with our children and our schools.

Louisiana’s Superintendent released their test scores after legislators applied political pressure. Why does it take political pressure to do what’s right?

CALL TO ACTION: E-mail State Representative Judith Spang

CALL TO ACTION:
Please E-MAIL Rep. Judith Spang the following article
Her e-mail address is: judith@kestrelnet.net

Rep. Spang (D-Durham) continues to deny that standardized test scores will be used to evaluate teachers. As you can see from this article, there is plenty of information from the NH Dept. of Ed to suggest, that’s exactly how they will be used.

http://schoolchoicenh.org/2015/09/24/responding-to-critics/

We also suggest looking at the Manchester Innovation Zone Implementation Plan: http://www.mansd.org/reports
Click on the link and scroll down to #17 where it says
17.2 Twenty Percent of teacher evaluations will be based on student growth results

LOOK OUT NH TEACHERS: you have a target on your back!

When did you give up local control to the NH Commissioner of Ed? Virginia Barry

NH residents need to start asking themselves, when did they give up local control to the Commissioner of Education, Virginia Barry?
Has our State Commissioner of Education overstepped her boundaries AGAIN?
Who pays the Superintendents?
Who hires and fires the Superintendents?
It’s not the Commissioner, and she has NO right to put our administrators in a position where they cannot share information with the people who pay their salary.
The NH Dept. of Education is again, overstepping their authority and grabbing control away from local communities.

From the Girard at Large web site:

MSD: Withholding Smarter Balanced Assessment scores

The Manchester School District, in response to a right to know request we filed last Thursday, has acknowledged it has received the city’s Smarter Balanced Assessment scores from the state Department of Education and has had them for several weeks. However, in an email sent to us yesterday, Superintendent Debra Livingston denied our request for the scores to be released, saying they would be released in conjunction with the state D o E. (Interestingly, she copied the entire school board on her response, despite our not copying them on our inquiry.)

Results withheld
Just four hours later, the district issued a statement saying the scores will be available to parents and the public on November twelfth. The statement also announced that S A U staff will quote

“soon be reviewing the data and preparing instructional materials for principals and teachers to use in order to interpret and make the best use of the data.”

It also said the data will be sent to the schools later this week and given to teachers on Monday, September twenty eighth. Livingston said the data would be used to quote “establish a baseline of achievement.”

Glassner: Got the info
We made the inquiry after State Board of Education Chair Tom Raffio told Sid Glassner, during his show Inside Education on this radio station, that the state had the assessment scoring and had sent it to school districts weeks ago. Glassner discussed it at length last Thursday during the Girard at Large “Is Our Children Learning?” segment. According to the state department of education, the scores were supposed to be released in July so districts could use the data to inform instruction in the coming school year.