The NH Executive Branch has No Authority to Mandate Common Core State Standards or Smarter Balanced Assessments

The Commissioner of Education, members of the Board of Education and Governor, are  members of the New Hampshire Executive Branch and, as such, they have:

*      no authority to sign away the rights of New Hampshire citizens because that power was never delegated to the Executive branch and enumerated in the NH Constitution;

*      no authority under the NH Constitution to sign away state sovereignty, i.e. control, over education to:

o   non-government organizations, National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, which hold a public copyright license for Common Core State Standards and thereby control those Standards,

  the U.S. Department of Education, which controls the Smarter Balanced assessments, derived from those same Standards and used to measure student performance;

*      no authority under the NH Constitution to mandate federal programs without doing a fiscal analysis of the costs and fully funding them as required by Part 1 Art. 28-a of the NH Constitution;

*      no authority under state law, RSA 193-C, to administer assessments that:

o   transfer authority to a consortium of states with a commitment to unknown costs for continuance of that consortium without approval,

  authorize the U.S. Department of Education and Pearson to conduct research to develop a privately controlled product, evaluating student performance on assessments without Institutional Review Board standards of informed consent and transparency of effects for assessments that have no reported technical adequacy;

*      no authority to administer student assessments, which evaluate student “dispositions” in opposition to the instruction of the legislature in RSA 193-H2013 Senate Bill 48, and which cannot be “objectively scored” as required by law, RSA 193-C:3 II;

*      no authority to overturn state law, RSA 21-N:6 to create and oversee an unauthorized division of the department of education, the Division of Instruction, which administers the Smarter Balanced assessments;

*      no authority to supersede the District organization of our public schools established by the NH legislature in RSA 194 by creating five unauthorized Regional offices under which the Division of Instruction intends to implement Common Core State Standards and other federal policies;

*      no authority to impose competency-based learning upon students through the adoption of rules, Ed 306, bypassing the legislature, which refused to pass legislation on competency-based learning: 2011 Senate Bill 192 & 2013 Senate Bill 82;

*      no authority to promise the U.S. Department of Education that it will impose competency-based learning upon our students under state law;

*      no authority to violate state education law, which protects local School Boards, RSA 189, and local control of student curricular frameworks, curriculum, and curricular materials, RSA 193-E 2a V:

o   “The general court requires the state board of education and the department of education to institute procedures for maintaining, updating, improving, and refining curriculum frameworks for each area of education identified in paragraph I. The curriculum frameworks shall present educational goals, broad pedagogical approaches and strategies for assisting students in the development of the skills, competencies, and knowledge called for by the academic standards for each area of education identified in paragraph I. The curriculum frameworks shall serve as a guide and reference to what New Hampshire students should know and be able to do in each area of education. The frameworks do not establish a statewide curriculum. It is the responsibility of local teachers, administrators, and school boards to identify and implement approaches best suited for the students in their communities to acquire the skills and knowledge included in the frameworks, to determine the scope, organization, and sequence of course offerings, and to choose the methods of instruction, the activities, and the materials to be used.

*      no authority to submit a grant application for an ESEA (No Child Left Behind) flexibility waiver to the U.S. Department of Education, making false and misleading promises which violate the NH Constitution and state law, including but not limited to:

o   promising the U.S. Department of Education to administer Smarter Balanced assessments, which evaluate student "dispositions" in opposition to the instruction of the New Hampshire legislature which refused to authorize the evaluation of student "dispositions" in the original version of 2013 Senate Bill 48, i.e., 2013 RSA 193-H;

  promising to tie scores on Smarter Balanced assessments to evaluations of teachers (principals, librarians, and guidance counselors) in violation of Part 1, Art. 6 of the NH Constitution which guarantees that each district “shall at all times have the right of electing their own teachers, and of contracting with them for their support or maintenance or both” without state interference.

 

Under state law, RSA 193-C:1 II,  the statewide assessments “serves as an effective measure of accountability when the assessment exercises or tasks are valid and appropriate representations of the curriculum standards that students are expected to achieve.”

Before using any assessment to determine student success or failure, the assessment itself must pass rigorous criteria of validity and reliability.  To date there has been no published data on the technical adequacy of Smarter Balanced assessments to formal and informal venues for review.  Why has SBAC failed to publish the validity and reliability of their tests?

According to the U. S. DoE - SBAC cooperative agreement:

“An eligible applicant awarded a grant under this category must ---

    1. Evaluate the validity, reliability, and fairness of the summative assessment components of the assessment system, and make available through formal mechanisms (e.g., peer-reviewed journals) and informal mechanisms (e.g., newsletters), and in print and electronically, the results of any evaluations it conducts; “(p. 11)

Pearson is the only corporation developing these SBAC assessments. Yet there is no technical adequacy data, which makes these current pilot tests nothing more than research activities. As research activities under contract with the U.S. Department of Education, the researcher must conform with Institutional Review Board standards, which requires Informed consent from the guardians of minors. Moreover, parents are not compelled to submit their children as participants in a research activity.

Moreover, there are penalties for making fraudulent claims on federal grant applications. Any contracts fraudulently made by the Executive branch cannot be considered legally binding upon the citizens of New Hampshire.

For the welfare of all students in public schools:

Districts can not be required to implement Common Core State Standards; 

Regional offices, implementing this Common Core federal program, must be shut down;

Exemptions to the Smarter Balanced Assessments must be made widely available to both individuals and Districts until such time as all these violations are fully resolved. 

The U.S. Department of Education must release New Hampshire and other states from these excessive high-stakes testing mandates, and encourage teachers to innovate and evaluate their students’ performance independently.

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For the past decade, high-stakes standardized tests have eroded the quality of public education. Despite the well-documented problems with these tests, the number of high-stakes tests continue to grow.

At a time of shrinking school budgets, rising class sizes and plummeting teacher morale, the last thing our schools need is yet another wave of expensive, time-consuming high-stakes tests.

We can TEACH our way to the top,

but we can not test our way to the top.

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