Common Core

LFDA Editor

In Brief:

  • The Common Core is a system of standards that set minimum expectations for what students should know in grades K-12.
  • Common Core was developed by the National Governor’s Association with a range of advisors, including teachers, state officials, education experts and business leaders.
  • Schools in New Hampshire are not required to adopt the Common Core. However, the schools do have to give students state-issued standardized tests, which in New Hampshire are based on Common Core standards.
  • Pro: The Common Core is a well-developed system of standards that will help deepen learning and raise academic achievement while leaving schools and teachers free to innovate in the development of curriculum. 
  • Con: Common Core is an untested system that was implemented in New Hampshire without sufficient public scrutiny and input, and using it for state-level assessments constitutes a soft mandate.

 

Issue Facts:

What is Common Core?

The Common Core State Standards Initiative establishes minimum expectations for what kindergarten through grade 12 students in the United States should know in English and mathematics by the end of each grade.  The standards are not federally mandated, but may be voluntarily adopted by states or school districts.

The standards do not constitute a curriculum: it is left up to districts, schools and teachers to determine how students may best be brought to an understanding of the areas of knowledge listed in the standards.

The Common Core was a project of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), an organization of the heads of state departments of education. It was created in the hopes that setting clear academic standards  for students would help raise achievement and college-readiness.

The initial framework for the standards was developed by a task force established by the NGA. Members included educators, state governors, higher education experts and business leaders. Input was also solicited from national education organizations such as major teachers’ unions, the National Council of Teachers of English, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the International Reading Association. Successive drafts of the standards were posted online for public comment.

A completed version of the standards was released in 2010, and was adopted by most states within the following months, including New Hampshire.  

Federal officials did not participate in the development of Common Core. However, following the publication of the standards, the U.S. Department of Education offered incentives to states to adopt the standards or a similar system of benchmarks, making it a condition for qualifying for a $3.4 billion grant competition called ‘Race to the Top’.

Status of Common Core in  New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Board of Education voluntarily adopted the standards in July 2010. 

Under New Hampshire law, local schools and districts do not have to adopt the standards.

However, school districts are all required to administer state performance assessments in order to qualify for federal funding. In New Hampshire, the state Department of Education (DOE) has opted to use the Smarter Balanced Assessments, which are based on Common Core.   

Assessment Controversy

New Hampshire began using the Smarter Balanced Assessments in 2015. Smarter Balanced tests were developed by a multi-state consortium and are based on Common Core standards. They are administered in grades three through eight and grade eleven. Currently, 15 states are using the exams.

The launch of the tests sparked controversy when the Manchester school district, which had initially resisted implementing Smarter Balanced, sent letters home to parents indicating that they had the right to opt their children out of the assessments. Roughly 200 parents pulled their children from testing. Federal rules require that 95% of students in a given school take approved standardized assessments, and sanctions such as loss of Title I funding may be imposed if participation drops below that rate. The Manchester opt-outs constituted roughly 1% of the student population.

Results from the first year of Smarter Balanced testing in 2015 showed 58% of New Hampshire students as ‘proficient’ or better in reading, and 46% meeting benchmarks in math. In 2014, the previous assessment system, the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), had marked New Hampshire students 78% proficient in reading and 71% proficient in math.

The drop in performance ratings was cited by critics contending that the tests, or the Common Core itself, was inherently flawed. However, state officials were quick to note that while Smarter Balanced tests are based on Common Core standards, the NECAP exams are based on a different system of grade-level expectations, which complicates attempts to make a straight comparison of scores between the two tests. “This information is honest, and it’s saying something very different than the former assessment did,” said Department of Education Commissioner Virginia Barry.

Alternatives to Smarter Balanced

In July 2015, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed legislation that will allow schools to have students in grade 11 to use the SAT or ACT in lieu of that year’s Smarter Balanced exam.

New Hampshire is currently piloting a potential alternative to Smarter Balanced Assessments. The Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) is an assessment system developed by the New Hampshire DOE in collaboration with a range of advisors and stakeholders. PACE is aimed at replacing the more traditional format of standardized testing with assessments that are more thoroughly integrated into students’ day-to-day learning.

PACE received federal approval to begin pilot study in 2014 and continues to be tested by a self-selected group of districts. Students in these PACE testing districts receive Smarter Balanced Assessments in three grades rather than seven.  PACE may be made more widely available to districts seeking an alternative to Smarter Balanced once further testing has been completed and further federal approval received.  

Privacy Concerns

Some opponents of Common Core have cited concerns over privacy. The Common Core standards themselves do not require any sort of data tracking or collection.

The concerns may rather be traced back to the 2009 federal State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF), which offered education stimulus money to states on the condition that they adopt “college- and career-ready standards” and “establish and use pre-K-through-college and career data systems to track progress”.

Though this fund was created before Common Core standards were released, the CCSSO – one of the key developers of Common Core – are in the process of developing data systems aimed at fulfilling SFSF requirements. CCSSO has stated that adoption of the system will be voluntary, as states may opt to create their own mechanisms to fulfil the conditions of the SFSF.

NH has its own database for tracking student performance. This system does not include any personally identifiable information such as a students’ name. Instead, student data is collected under a unique, randomly generated identifier.  Only aggregate data, not student-level data, may be accessed by the public. 

A separate Smarter Balanced Consortium system is used to collect test score data for students across the 15 participating states. This system also uses unique identification numbers and does not contain any personally identifiable information. All collection of data within the Smarter Balanced system is subject to New Hampshire state privacy laws.

Legislative Activity

The Legislature has been far from silent on Common Core, with various attempts to modify the state’s approach to the standards put forward since 2010. Thus far, any attempts to terminate state use of Common Core or delay implementation have failed. 

A 2015 bill (HB 603) would have required school districts to allow students to opt out of testing without penalty. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Maggie Hassan.

More details on other bills can be seen in the Legislative History section below.

 

PROS & CONS

"For" Position

By LFDA Editor

Pro: “New Hampshire should continue to base assessments on Common Core.”

  • Common Core standards were developed through a rigorous, evidence-based process which drew upon benchmarks in states and other countries demonstrating high levels of academic achievement.
  • Common Core standards will help raise achievement levels in states which had previously lowered their standards in order to avoid penalties under the No Child Left Behind Act.
  • Common Core standards are aligned with expectations in college and work environments, and will therefore leave students better prepared to succeed after leaving school.
  • Standards-based learning systems like Common Core encourage deeper understanding and mastery of key skills rather than rote memorization across broader subject areas.
  • Common Core empowers educators to be creative in the classroom, as it does not dictate lessons or curriculum.
  • Common Core’s broad adoption across state lines will increase opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing among educators. 

"Against" Position

By LFDA Editor

Con: “New Hampshire should reject the Common Core.”

  • Common Core's standards were created in a vacuum without sufficient input from lawmakers and educators.
  • Common Core represents a ‘one size fits all’ approach to education that does not take into account differences in need and ability across states.
  • Common Core was not properly tested before states began implementing it across the country.
  • Common Core standards were adopted unilaterally by the New Hampshire state Board of Education, without giving the public the opportunity for input.  
  • Though not technically mandated, the Common Core standards effectively constitute a national system of standards, risking federal overreaching into a vital area of state-level authority.
  • According to the Fordham Institute, there are better systems of standards in the United States, which means the prevalence of Common Core may ultimately constitute a ‘race to the middle’. 

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

In Committee

Prohibits the Department of Education and the state Board of Education from requiring any school or school district to implement the Common Core standards.

In Committee

Constitutional amendment that gives the Legislature more control over school funding and education standards. The amendment states, "the General Court shall have the authority and full discretion to define reasonable standards for elementary and secondary public education, to establish reasonable standards of accountability therefor, and to mitigate local disparities in educational opportunity and fiscal capacity. Further, in the exercise thereof, the General Court shall have full discretion to determine the amount of, and methods of raising and distributing, State funding for education."

Killed in the Senate

If a school board votes against adopting the Common Core education standards, this bill requires the board to adopt alternative academic standards that meet or exceed Common Core (or whatever other education standards the state has adopted).

Passed Senate

Prohibits the Department of Education and the state Board of Education from requiring the implementation of the Common Core standards in any school or school district in this state.

Passed House and Senate

As originally written, this bill would have prohibited the state Board of Education from adopting any rules that require school districts to use specific curriculum or assessments, unless the program is fully paid for by the state or federal government. This bill also would have prevented the Board of Education from adopting any rules that exceed minimum requirements set in law. The bill was amended to instead require that the Board of Education consider the fiscal and administrative impact on local school districts before implementing new rules going forward.

Killed in the House

Requires the Department of Education to report on the number of students receiving differentiated aid from the state (such as English language learners) and to compare the statewide assessment results of those students and other students.

Killed in the Senate

Prohibits placing statewide assessment results on student transcripts without consent.

Signed by Governor

Changes some references in the law to academic and educational standards and curriculum.

Signed by Governor

Removes history, geography, civics, and economics from statewide assessments.

Killed in the House

Allows a school district to develop and administer an alternative to the statewide assessment.

Killed in the Senate

Allows parents and guardians to opt their students out of the statewide assessment test, and prohibits schools and the state from penalizing students who do not take statewide assessments.

Killed in the House

Redefines the term "competencies" in relation to education.

Killed in the Senate

Prohibits the commissioner of the Department of Education from initiating or assuming any managerial, supervisory, or operational function, or directing action with district superintendents, principals, or CIA (curriculum, instruction, and assessment), and prohibits the commissioner from initiating or establishing district oversight through an extended cabinet of regional liaisons.

Vetoed by Governor

Requires school districts to adopt a policy allowing a student to be exempted without penalty from any statewide assessment.

Killed in the House

Requires legislative approval of all agreements, contracts, grants, or waivers prior to submission or acceptance involving the Department of Education or the state Board of Education.

Killed in the House

Requests the removal of Virginia Barry, commissioner of the Department of Education, and Paul Leather, deputy commissioner of the Department of Education.

Killed in the Senate

Requires the state Board of Education to evaluate the financial impact of any new college and career readiness standards before implementing the standards, including public hearings.

Tabled in the Senate

Prohibits the state Board of Education from requiring a school to implement the Common Core standards. Districts who refuse Common Core must implement other standards that meet or exceed state minimum educational standards.

Signed by Governor

Establishes a committee to study state education databases that contain student level data.

Tabled in the House

Requires any statewide assessment to be "validated for use with multiple ethnic groups," restricted to questions that can be objectively scored, etc. This bill also requires that no psychological services be provided to a pupil without the consent of a parent or legal guardian.

Signed by Governor

Requires the Department of Education to implement additional procedures to protect student and teacher personally identifiable data from security breaches. The bill also requires the Department of Education to make public certain rights available to parents, legal guardians, and affected students regarding the protection of personally identifiable data.

Signed by Governor

Allows high schools to use the ACT or SAT for the required statewide assessment.

Killed in the Senate

Removes the requirement that school boards comply with the rules and regulations of the state Board of Education, and gives school board greater control over curriculum and assessments.  The bill was amended to only make it clear that local school boards have control over curriculum and standards, so long as those standards meet or exceed the minimum standards set at the state level.

Interim Study

Slightly revises the duty of the legislative committee oversee statewide education assessments, and allows school districts to continue to administer an existing statewide assessment for up to two years following the state Board of Education’s recommendation or implementation of a new annual statewide assessment. The Department of Education notes the proposed legislation is unclear regarding who would be responsible for costs associated with the continuance of the existing assessment, or if the existing assessment would be conducted in parallel with the newly implemented or recommended assessment.

Vetoed by Governor

Prohibits the Department of Education and the state Board of Education from implementing the Common Core standards in any school or school district in this state.

Law Without Signature

Encourages schools to provide instruction in cursive handwriting and the memorization of multiplication tables.

Killed in the Senate

Removes the Board of Education's direct authority over public schools.

Interim Study

Delays the implementation of Common Core for two years, and requires a legislative committee to study the feasibility of implementing Common Core.

Interim Study

Provides that schools are not required to administer assessments that are not valid and appropriate, or which cannot be objectively scored.

Killed in the House

Terminates New Hampshire’s participation in the Common Core educational standards.

Signed by Governor

Establishes a committee to study Common Core.

Killed in the House

Requires the state board of education to report on the fiscal impact of implementing the Common Core Standards, and prohibits the board from implementing Common Core until the board performs a fiscal analysis and conducts a public hearing in each Executive Council district.

Killed in the House

Requires the Department of Education to reimburse school districts for technology necessary to implement the statewide assessment associated with Common Core.

Killed in the House

Establishes a committee to study whether the Department of Education is operating within the law.

Should NH continue to base statewide assessments on Common Core standards?

FOR
REPRESENTATIVES

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UNDECIDED
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AGAINST
REPRESENTATIVES

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Comments

gordona's picture
Gordon Avery
- Salinas

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 12:29pm

What is the ultimate endgame of Common Core?

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Common Core is an insidious attack upon the children/students of the United States. It is the fraudulent use of taxpayers’ money by an unconstitutional department against taxpayers, because, as citizens, we are all stakeholders in how well our children are educated.

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As controversial as the deployment of Common Core has been to this point, it can, and will, become much worse, as it becomes fully deployed.

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Aside from the data-mining concerns and loss of local control for our schools , a major concern is that Common Core is purposely designed to drive a wedge between children and their parents.

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When parents are unable to assist their son and/or daughter with his/her homework and understand what is being taught within his/her classroom, the teacher becomes the ‘de facto’ authority.

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Common Core is a zero-sum ‘game’. It is all, or nothing! There is no compromising!

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Some students come from families in which their parents believe in God, and the inspired word of God within the Bible. This is an anathema to the government, the media and Common Core.

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The planned effect of implementing Common Core is parental authority is to be challenged and eliminated, and any spiritual, moral and ethical tendencies harbored by a student are to be eviscerated.

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This may strike many as hyperbole, but only if you haven’t peered into the darkness of the minds of those who are intent upon transforming our educational system from a focus upon the growth of the individual children/students towards the children/students becoming profit centers and mental widgets, to be used for the common good of the collective.

A.J. Cameron
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Across the nation, in public and Catholic schools, parents and teachers have found sexually inappropriate materials in the exemplars recommended by Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

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New York State - Jen Costabile, an English teacher in the Newburgh school district pointed out that this issue, having sexually graphic material in the hands of students, is not limited to a single troublesome book. “At least three of the books listed on the modules [curriculums] contain passages using inappropriate language and visual imagery that most people would consider pornographic,” for example “Black Swan Green,” “ Make Lemonade.”

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Buena High School in Sierra Vista, Arizona, acknowledged parental pressure and removed

the sexually explicit novelDreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia. .. a September Associated Press story, Barbara Hansen, a former Sierra Vista elementary school teacher, described the book to the school officials as “child pornography.” “We’re bludgeoning their souls with this kind of material.

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A faceless, unaccountable, centralized national CCSS does not know our children. It proceeds upon an unproven theory of reform and social experimentation. Its goal is a standardized American worker—A plug and play worker unit.

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Mary Jo Anderson is a Catholic journalist and public speaker.

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http:// www . bizpacreview . com /2015/05/30/common-core-nightmare-in-science-climate-change-indoctrination-hits-13-states-208863#ixzz3brbx0EEz

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http://teapartyorg.ning.com/forum/topic/show?id=4301673%3ATopic%3A3706151&xgs=1&xg_source=msg_share_topic

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http://survivaljoe.net/blog/fact-muslim-brotherhood-using-common-core-to-brainwash-children/

Ananta Gopalan
- Hampton

Sun, 05/11/2014 - 9:30pm

Politics has no place in education of our youth.  It must not be a Democrat or Republican issue.

Ever increasing role of partisanship in education in the last fifty years boosted per pupil tax spending in the US to astronomical levels outstripping all other nations of the world. The US student achievement results, however have been flat nationally while below average when compared to the thirty or more top nations in the world.  If one is interested in education and not the political wedge for power that it can provide, one would stop doing what is not working and look at other solutions.  There are other solutions such as Charter schools and providing scholarships to attend schools of choice instead of consigned to attending failing public schools.  We have one party whose platform is to throttle any creativity which would demand busting up the status-quo of public education.

Take the case of Gov. Hassan recently nominating one, Bill Duncan, a political hack of the Democrat Party for the state board of education.  His claim to fame is that he has filed a lawsuit bearing his name to scuttle opportunity for poor students to get educated in an institution of their choice.  It is called the scholarship program.  Now you might ask how that could be against the intent of delivering public education in different ways to the students.  Where is it written that the only legitimate source of education is the monopoly of government established schools, especially in this day and age of personal choices that are available to serve the varied needs?  The simple answer is that the Democrat Party has a revenue stream through its support of union membership of educators and their union dues for which the party pays back by maintaining the status-quo. 

Mr. Duncan is engaged in a law suit against the state in its education policy while being appointed to oversee the education department!  Why would the governor fall into such an obvious lapse of ethics and engage in that type of partisanship?  It is because the party interests come first, students last. 

Mr. Duncan is not the only one that is standing in the way of poor students and their parents being provided with an opportunity to get a better education for them.  Their party leader, Mr. Obama, tried to do away with a similar scholarship program in DC that gave poor African-American kids the opportunity to attend private schools, away from their unsafe public schools that stand at the bottom of academic achievement in spite of the highest per pupil expenditure.  That is not compassion but pure callousness especially when he sends his daughters to the exclusive private school in Washington DC.  Mr. Obama also attended exclusive private school in Hawaii. 

How do we get rid of politics in education?  Do what Sweden did in the mid-1990s.  Sweden gave the education dollars to the students and their parents so that they can choose any school that they want to attend.  The public schools suddenly found that they had to compete for students based on their record.  It put students and parents in charge of their education eliminating one-size-fits-all-for-ever monolith called public schools.  Since it will dry up the election dollar stream from the teachers union, the only way it can come about is for the parents to relentlessly demand for it.  New Hampshire is one of the few states that have adopted competency-based education, doing away with seat-based 1930’s education model.  As long as students go to any school including home study to achieve certain expected level of competency for graduation what does it matter how that student had acquired proficiency?  We must have successful Charter schools and other specialized schools to serve the needs of the students and not just the same old public school that has no real accountability for education. Otherwise, we will not have the high standard of living for our kids and grand-kids.  China is already poised to take over the top economic spot in the world from the US!

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Issue Status

SB 44 prohibits the state from implementing Common Core standards. It passed the Senate Feb. 23 on a 14 to 9 vote. Similarly worded HB 207 was held in a House committee. HB 304 passed the House and is being considered in committee by the Senate. It gives local school boards a say in the review of academic standards being considred by the state Board of Education. HB 620 passed to the House to require the state board to consider the fiscal impact of education standards before implementation.

Several bills in the 2016 session dealt with statewide education assessment standards and how they should be applied. Most were found to be inexpedient to legislate or were placed in study. One measure agreed to by lawmakers and signed by the governor -- HB 1121 -- adds history, geography, civics, and economics to reading, language arts, and math as required critical areas of study to be included in the statewide assessment. 

 

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