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OPPOSE HB 1240, an act relative to the statewide assessment.

Oppose HB 1240. It's another "bait and switch" bill from Rep. Ladd to enable PACE.

Here's the link to the bill:

This bill pretends to authorize “locally designed” assessments as an alternative to the statewide assessment. However, the State department of education is the gatekeeper, approving all statewide assessments.

Only those alternative assessments that are approved by the department will be allowed. The department has made its position crystal clear in its 2015 ESEA Waiver that it intends to transition all school districts over to PACE, which is anything but a locally designed assessment -- despite the department’s marketing pitch to the contrary.

Authorizing standardized assessments, which are simple measurement tools that students can take to demonstrate what they know and are able to do, would be great. However, authorizing PACE, which is fraudulently labeled a “locally designed” assessment, is unacceptable.

PACE is an invasive program that requires districts to abdicate local authority over its standards, its competencies, which are course targets or goals, and its grading system. There is precious little remaining in terms of local control of the curriculum at that point. However, that is just the starting point when transitioning over to PACE.

All of this is explained in the 2015 ESEA Waiver. Next the district must “anchor their annual determinations of proficiency (competency) to the Smarter Balanced ALDs (Achievement Level Descriptors) for the grade level and subject area.” How is PACE even an alternative to Smarter Balanced assessments when it's based on Smarter Balanced assessments? Clearly it is not.

The district must consult with Regional districts and other "experts" to design and grade this assessment. Finally, the district must seek departmental approval.

It is a huge deception to say that PACE is “locally-designed” given the inflexible parameters and pre-requisites needed to participate in this program. Parents deserve better than this legislatively-enabled deception imposed upon their children.

Deceptive language -- misleading districts to believe PACE is “locally designed” assessments -- must be removed.

Moreover, it is extremely unlikely that the department will approve anything but PACE if given the opportunity. The department has already promised the US Education Department in its last Waiver that it would implement PACE in all school districts in New Hampshire. That’s the objective.

After a heated debate in the Senate, approval for PACE was removed from HB 323 last June. This indirect reference to PACE needs to be removed from HB 1240 as well. If the legislature wants to allow authentic locally designed assessments, it should restore the language adopted in 1993 in RSA 193-C: 9, Local Education Improvement and Assessment Plan, which was repealed by SB 48 to meet the perceived requirements of the old 2013 Waiver.

If you look at 2013 SB 48, it actually misled legislators, claiming to removed “RSA 193-C:9, relative to the local education improvement fund” not the Local Education Improvement and Assessment Plan, which was the current state law. Here are the Local Assessment sections that were removed:

193-C:1 V. A critical part of this program is the local education improvement and assessment plan. In order for an assessment program to give an accurate picture of student performance, it must include more than a one-time measure. Local school districts should devise and implement measures, which focus on the continuing growth of individual students, and report the results to parents along with those obtained from the state-developed tool.

193-C:9 Local Education Improvement and Assessment Plan.
I. Each school district in New Hampshire is encouraged to develop a local education improvement and assessment plan which builds upon and complements the goals established for the program, including:
(a) Local assessment measures which focus on individual student performance.
(b) Participation in the program.
(c) The use of local and statewide assessment results to improve instruction and enhance student learning.
(d) Methods for reporting the results of all assessment measures.
II. This plan may be submitted to the department of education for review. The department shall provide technical assistance at the request of the school districts in developing and implementing these assessment plans.
III. In addition, local school districts are encouraged to submit to the department of education information relating to:
(a) Methods of instruction which have proven to be effective in helping students reach the state-developed standards.
(b) Methods of assessment which have proven to be effective in assessing what students know and are able to do.
IV. In accordance with RSA 21-N:6, VII, the department shall develop a system whereby such information can be collected, compiled, and disseminated to local school districts.

Amend HB 1240 to eliminate deceptive “locally-designed” assessment, or just vote this bill Inexpedient to Legislate.

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