Assessing the quality of New Hampshire's Public Schools

posted Dec 6, 2011, 9:24 AM by Bill Duncan
It's hard to make sense of it, but Republican legislative leadership is going out of its way to misrepresent the quality of New Hampshire public schools.

The House Education Committee Chair, Rep. Michael Balboni, wrote here:

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is a standardized national assessment tool used to determine if our public schoolchildren are proficient in reading and math, the two fundamental building blocks to all future learning.

The latest 2011 results clearly show there is a major problem with our New Hampshire public school system. For example, 43 percent of fourth-graders cannot do math at grade level. And the results are worse for eighth-graders, where 56 percent cannot do math at grade level.

If the math numbers aren’t bad enough, let’s look at the reading results. Fifty-seven percent of fourth-graders cannot read at grade level, and 60 percent of eighth-graders cannot read at grade level.

Deputy Speaker Pam Tucker, R-Greenland, was quoted here saying:

Tucker pointed to standardized testing results to suggest there is a "major problem" with the state's public school system. For example, 43 percent of fourth-graders and 56 percent of eighth-graders cannot do math at grade level, she said.

They are obviously talking from the same memo and are working very hard to implant an erroneous narrative about New Hampshire education.

First, the NAEP referenced by Rep. Balboni does not rate student grade level achievement It uses the term "proficiency" but there is no connection between that term and grade level performance.  For one thing, the test is given mid-year, so it could not measure the student grade level achievement, which would be assessed at the end of the year. 

Secondly, the NAEP tests only a small percentage of the students and each student takes only 20% of the test.  It is not meant to measure student level performance.  It is meant strictly for comparison among states.

In fact, when you look at what the NAEP and many other tests tell us about New Hampshire public schools, you get an exciting picture of high quality and vitality.

Bill Duncan,
Dec 6, 2011, 5:27 PM