A pending House bill would give NH students needed options, Another View, UL, 2/24/12

posted Feb 24, 2012, 4:03 AM by Bill Duncan

DNHPE comment: Voucher proponents can't decide whether the acknowledge the certifiably high quality of New Hampshire's schools or trash them.  Cornerstone has a new idea: they're basically no good, but where they are good, it must be because the kids are getting private (Get it?  Private) tutoring.

New Hampshire Union Leader 02/24/2012, Page A09
Another View

Ann Marie Banfield and Wendy Warcholik 

A pending House bill would give NH students needed options THERE IS a real need for school choice in New Hampshire. House Bill 1607 would begin the process of offering school choice to our children. It would establish an education credit against the business profits tax so that businesses can award scholarships to students to defray the educational expenses of attending an independent school.

According to the 2011 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) grade 4 results, New Hampshire students appear to be doing well. The national assessment shows that New Hampshire 4th graders are among the highest performers in mathematics. However, what these results do not show is the growing number of students now enrolled in private tutoring.

For instance, in Bedford, students showed some of the highest proficiency rates according to the state standardized assessment (NECAP).

However, employees at Sylvan Learning Centers in Bedford confirmed that many students are now enrolled in private math tutoring due to the fuzzy math program used in the public schools. Before Bedford adopted Everyday Math, Sylvan didn’t offer math tutoring services to Bedford students, which begs the question: to what extent is the success in Bedford due to the numerous hours spent at Sylvan?

According to the NECAP, the further a student progresses in the public school system, the less likely it is for that student to score “proficient” on the standardized assessment. If one looks at the percentage of students who are proficient in 4th grade, 8th grade and then 11th grade, the trend shows that the number of students scoring “proficient” declines as students move forward.

In Bedford, you will notice that the state reported more than 90 percent of the 4thgrade students proficient in mathematics. The percentage drops to a little over 80 percent in 8th grade, and then dramatically falls to around 56 percent in 10th grade. This appears to be a trend among all of the schools in New Hampshire.

In districts where parents cannot afford outside tutoring services, the “proficiency levels” would be worse.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan was quoted in the Chicago Tribune (April, 2009),”In too many places ...

we are lying to children now.

When we tell a child they are meeting the state standards, the logical implication is that the child is on track to be successful. In too many places ... if you are meeting state standards you are barely qualified to graduate from high school and you are totally unqualified to go to a university and graduate.”

According to the Fordham Foundation, New Hampshire set academic standards at a “D” level for both math and science. This means that if the students are scoring proficient on the NECAP, they are in essence meeting “D” level standards. Secretary Duncan’s analysis should cause “concern” for even those New Hampshire students reaching “proficiency”

level in our own state. How many of our graduating students entering college need remedial education?

Connecticut and Maine collect this data, New Hampshire does not. Remedial education required by high school graduates is a nationwide crisis.

We have community colleges in New Hampshire having to re-educate students who lack the basic skills one would expect them to possess after receiving a quality education. Under HB 1607, if students are not being served by their local district, the option to choose another school would be available. School choice has always been available to the “rich” in this country.

It has only been denied to those who cannot afford it.

Not only does this bill offer students and parents “choice” in education, those supporting the legislation have shown it will also be fiscally responsible by saving money in the long term.

According to a study by Brian Gottlob for The Josiah Bartlett Center, the proposed legislation has the ability to save the state $32 million over eight years.

The one-size-fits-all model in public education does not work for every child.

Children should be offered an alternative path so they may succeed. Additionally, focusing on offering future teachers an excellent academic education in addition to offering students the opportunity to seek the best education for their individual needs is just the kind of reform we need in New Hampshire.


Ann Marie Banfield is education liaison at Cornerstone Policy Research.

Wendy Warcholik is the group’s executive director.