Governor Hassan issued a public statement on the new PACE assessment pilot program that will begin in four New Hampshire public schools.

“PACE is a first-in-the-nation accountability strategy that offers a reduced level of standardized testing together with locally managed assessments. These assessments are more integrated into students’ day-to-day work than current standardized tests. Meaningful assessment is a key part of a strategy to ensure students are getting the most out of their education.”

“This K-12 system will build on New Hampshire’s competency work, including the development of statewide college and career ready competencies, and will be one component of the New Hampshire student assessment system.”

The New Hampshire DoE has been selling “Competency Based Education” as new and innovative yet anyone who’s researched education has watched these failed fads come and go in other states.  It’s been called Mastery Learning, 21st Century Skills, Outcome Based Education, and now in New Hampshire it’s going to be called Competency Based Education.  In other words, this is nothing new or innovative.  The fads slightly change then they are renamed and sold to unsuspecting parents who are told this repackaged reform is “new and innovative.”

Since it’s been tried numerous times before, the NH DoE should be able to provide ample evidence that there are real benefits to forging down this road again.  Maybe it’s best to re-name it and ignore the past so they won’t be required to produce evidence this has actually worked to improve academic achievement.

But competency based ed isn’t about academic achievement, it’s about workforce training.  This isn’t about making kids smarter, it’s about the State tracking your children from an early age and figuring out where they fit into the workforce.  This also explains why elite private schools wouldn’t touch it.  If it’s working so wonderfully, why the negative reaction from NH School Board members? 

Competency Based Ed is part of the Obama redesign in public education.  The redesign model is based on Marc Tucker’s letter to Hillary Clinton from 1992.  It’s a cradle to workforce model that eliminates local control in education.

Here are some of my concerns:

“, the U.S. Department of Education has agreed to allow them to be the only districts in the country to pilot a new locally managed assessment process for accountability purposes.”

Agreed?? Who controls public schools? The state ? The local district? I think the fact that we now have to go to the U.S. Dept of education to ask permission on how to test our students just highlights the significant problems we face in education today.

The term “accountability” continues to come up in education reform. Accountability to whom? Bureaucrats or parents? Under this latest reform, we have accountability to bureaucrats. Where has the Governor advocated for accountability to parents?

Deputy Commissioner Leather’s testimony before Sen. Alexander on the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind continued the support of testing and accountability to bureaucrats and not parents.  These are strategies that were used in No Child Left Behind and we saw what a mess that created.

Governor Hassan proudly states, ” In math, fourth-graders might design and cost out a new park and write a letter to their board of selectmen arguing their perspective based on their calculations and other evidence.”

Really? A 4th grader is going to make a political argument in math class now?

What I’ve seen as a researcher is a move away from students mastering the basics in arithmetic. That means parents have to go to outside tutoring organizations to fill in those gaps. This has a negative impact on children in poverty and contributes to the achievement gap. A child cannot apply math to a real world situation until they have mastered the basics.

So now students who are supposed to be learning arithmetic will be taught on how to become political activists?

Sen. Stiles submitted legislation that will require schools to teach, and children to memorize, multiplication tables since that’s not included in the Common Core Standards. Sen. Stiles heard directly from parents in her district who were worried because their children are not being taught the basics.  Unfortunately Sen. Stiles, who is an avid supporter of the Common Core Standards, is now hearing directly from her constituents on the failures of the standards she supports.

The NH DoE continues to follow the federal agenda but sells these reforms as if they are coming up with new and innovative ideas to fix the problems that they created.  In other words, they continue to follow reforms from the Feds that create a problem, then come in with other reforms to try to fix those problems.  What’s the definition of insanity again?  “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?”

Instead of following the Secretary of Education and appealing to bureaucrats in Washington D.C., it would be nice if Governor Hassan held public town halls and started listening to parents and teachers who live in NH.