NOTE: I was limited on time so I was not able to read the last paragraph at tonight’s meeting.

Good evening. For the record my name is Ann Marie Banfield and I am the Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire.

Banfield:  Where's the independent, expert feedback?

Banfield: Where’s the independent, expert feedback?

At the request of Manchester residents, I’d like to take a few short minutes to address the Curriculum and Instruction Committee on the proposed draft Manchester Academic Standards.

While I think it’s important to gather feedback from the public, I believe asking for feedback right now is pre-mature.

When Superintendent Livingston addressed many concerned Manchester residents several months ago about using Common Core as the floor and developing Manchester Academic Standards, I asked the nations top content and standards experts if they would assist the district in this process.

Manchester did reach out to Drs. Stotsky and Milgram during this process however in the last presentation to the school board, no expert analysis on the proposed draft was presented to the board.

It is crucial that the nations top standards experts offer the School Board and community their expert analysis on what Manchester is proposing.

The district has access to the nations top experts and I have to wonder why Administrators would not follow through with first obtaining their analysis and then offering that information to the public.

How can anyone who does not have this kind of expertise offer feedback at this time?

I am presenting an analysis of the Common Core Math Standards by Dr. Milgram. As you can see, he goes through each standard and identifies problems and how to change the standard to make it better.

Is this what you expect parents who do not have the expertise and credentials to do? If the district has the nations top experts available, wouldn’t it be wise to ask for their feedback first? Then allow the public to read that analysis and then weigh in?

I will read you a short paragraph from Dr. Milgram and ask you if this is what you expect parents to do?
The above standards illustrate many serious aws in the Core Standards. Also among these difficulties are that a large number of the arithmetic and operations, as well as the place value standards are one, two or even more years behind the corresponding standards for many if not all the high achieving countries.

From what I’ve gathered and based on comments from Chairman Raffio at a recent public meeting in Hollis, the Manchester Academic Standards are similar to the Common Core Standards.

If that is indeed the case and the Common Core Standards have been slightly adjusted, then one has to conclude that the residents in Manchester who expected better standards were ignored. However one must also look at how this process has unfolded too.

Common Core testing will certainly drive curriculum. In the Manchester Innovative Plan, it states that teachers and principals will be evaluated by 20% on student progress. If “progress” is determined by the results of Common Core testing, then the incentive is to stick to Common Core. The most revealing part of the presentation to the Board was the fact that the Common Core Testing Consultant was there to assist the teachers in the process.

In other words, teachers who helped to develop the Manchester Academic Standards were never really given the freedom to look past Common Core. If I were going to be evaluated on Common Core testing, the last thing I’d want to do is look outside of those parameters.

I’m afraid that no one will have confidence in what has been developed because you had the top experts at your fingertips but failed to acquire their approval.  You also had a set of parameters in place that does not incentivize teachers to look past Common Core.

My hope is that this is a “start”. A start to honestly analyze the process and then take this document and get the expert analysis that gives you honest feedback.

The one positive outcome that I could find in this process was the utilization of the teachers in the district. Having them work with the nations top standards experts to collaborate on local standards had the potential of showing other districts how to succeed where the state has clearly failed.

My hope is that in the end, Manchester does not walk down the same path the State of New Hampshire walked down when they offered students the poor quality Common Core Standards.

You’ve now invested time and money in this process and you should not settle for a slight improvement to the Common Core Standards.   Manchester has the opportunity to stand out and become an example of what to do when the Governor and State Department of Education fail to offer the best quality academic standards for the students in New Hampshire.

You should first gather expert feedback from Drs. Stotsky and Milgram and then present that information to the public. You can then collaborate on those suggestions to make the necessary changes that can then improve the draft. Until that is done, I cannot see how a vote on the proposed draft will benefit the residents of Manchester.