U.S. Education Department Approves Extension of New Hampshire’s Competency-Based Assessment Pilot
The U.S. Department of Education today announced a one-year extension of New Hampshire’s existing competency-based assessment pilot to include a total of nine districts across the state. The pilot will continue to provide students, families and educators with timely and actionable feedback on student progress towards college and career readiness. Under this waiver extension, New Hampshire will continue to administer annual assessments to all students in the state, and report annually on achievement for all students.
“The President’s Testing Action Plan encourages thoughtful approaches that will help to restore the balance on testing in America’s classrooms by promoting quality, equity, and innovation, and eliminating unnecessary standardized testing,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “Today’s announcement will allow New Hampshire to continue its important work toward developing an innovative, next-generation assessment system that is a fair, effective, and accurate measure of student progress.”
Without a waiver, under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which is in effect for the 2016-2017 school year, states are required to use the same academic achievement standards and assessments for all public school students in the state. Students in New Hampshire’s nine participating districts will take the New Hampshire Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) Pilot assessments in reading/language arts, mathematics and science in lieu of the statewide assessment during the 2016-2017 school year. The districts will administer the New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE) state assessments in reading/language arts and mathematics once each in elementary, middle and high school and will administer PACE Pilot assessments in the remaining grades in which assessments are required under Title I.
The Department is granting the waiver extension because the NHDOE demonstrated that the pilot assessment system being developed will continue to advance student academic achievement, provide assistance to the populations participating in the PACE Pilot, and maintain or improve transparency in reporting to parents and the public on student achievement and school performance, as required by the ESSA. The state will report on achievement results and participation rates for each PACE District in November 2016 (for school year 2015-2016) and November 2017 (for school year 2016-2017).
In October 2015, President Obama announced the Testing Action Plan, putting forward a set of principles and steps to restore balance to America’s classrooms and protecting the vital role that good assessments play in guiding progress for students, while providing help in unwinding practices that have burdened classroom time or not served students, educators or families well. That plan acknowledged the role that this Administration has, at times, had to play in the overuse of testing and set forth a new vision for the role assessments should play in schools.
Consistent with the President’s Testing Action Plan, the President’s FY2017 budget included a request of $403 million for state assessments, an increase of $25 million, to support the pressing needs states have identified for developing and implementing next-generation assessment systems, and to fund state and local audits of assessment systems to reduce unnecessary testing.
In July 2016, the Department of Education announced Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Title I, Parts A and B that implement provisions of the ESSA with regard to states administering high-quality assessments that provide meaningful data about student success and equity, while also encouraging states and districts to continue to push the field of assessment forward through innovation. The public comment period closed in September and the Department is in the process of finalizing these regulations.