Are your children being used again as guinea pigs in another education reform?  It sure looks like it.

After the overwhelming evidence that No Child Left Behind was a failure, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House just approved legislation to re-authorize ESEA (No Child Left Behind).  The new reforms will still have to be signed into law by President Obama once a final bill is passed, but it’s important to understand what these new reforms will do to public education and your children.

In this article titled, ESEA Rewrites: A Tsunami of Next-Gen Ed Reforms?” the author details the history of education reform.  They also reference a “summit” where the “New Hampshire Model” is referenced as an education reform model other states will want to follow.
The summit, sponsored in part by Pearson, Disney, the AFT, and the NEA, featured workshops and presentations titled: “A New Age in Accountability: Performance Assessment for Competency Education – The New Hampshire Model,” “Blended Learning +Personalized Pathways = Competency- Based Education (P21 Partner State: Iowa),” and “A Transformational Vision of the Future of Learning: A Strange Bedfellow Collaboration.”

Now why would any state want to follow the “New Hampshire Model” when we know that students in Massachusetts using their old and superior standards finished at the top in the country?

We have proof that the “Massachusetts Miracle” worked well at improving academic achievement.  Why wouldn’t a “summit” on education reform point states to that model?  Why would they point to the New Hampshire Model?

If New Hampshire’s Model is working, one would think there would be substantial proof.  After all, the NH Boar of Education adopted the Common Core Standards in 2010.  Has there been any kind of independent analysis that can show our students are outperforming students in every other state?


Recently the New Hampshire Dept. of Education hosted a presentation on Competency Based Education.  One would think that the NH DoE would present data that showed academic improvement.  They did not.

I sent an e-mail to Heather Gage, Director of Educational Improvement at the NH Department of Education  asking for proof and whether the audience was presented with critical information on Competency Based Education:

On Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 4:20 PM, Ann Marie Banfield <> wrote:
I wanted to follow up with you regarding the e-mail I had sent a short time ago. I did not receive a reply. I wasn’t sure if you had sent one and I missed it or if you did not receive the e-mail?

It’s my understanding that the conference on Competency Based Ed. was well attended. I was wondering if any critical analysis on CBE was presented. For instance, were you able to present the letter from Heidi Sampson, a State Board of Ed. Member in Maine? She sent a critical analysis on CBE to all of the NH State Reps/Senators.

If the NH DoE is serious about promoting critical thinking to students, would you agree that presenting a critical analysis on CBE should then also be a priority? This would allow the attendees to then see a different viewpoint.
As I asked below: How long now has CBE been in the NH schools and do you have any data on the achievement levels per the standardized assessments?

Ann Marie Banfield
Education Liaison, Cornerstone Action

Ann Marie,
The purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for students and educators to share their experiences with competency education. They provided the successes and challenges they’ve experienced.

As you know, we are a locally governed state. We would not have any documentation on how long schools have individually used a competency-based education model.

The results of the achievement levels for the state’s standardized assessments are on our website under each school/district.

Heather Gage, Chief of Staff
Division of Educational Improvement, Director
101 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301-3494

There is no independent analysis by the New Hampshire Department of Education on whether the reforms have improved the quality of education in our public schools.  There was no critical analysis on Competency Based Ed. given to the people who attended the conference.

In the letter sent by Maine’s State Board of Education Member Heidi Sampson, she references how the same reforms (Competency Based Ed) in Maine are lowering academic achievement in their schools:

There are indications students are learning less. I’ve included two sample High School Physics Exams. At one school (a forerunner for PBE), this year’s Honors Physics seniors took a 2007 pre Proficiency Based Education basic-level Physics exam and most were unable to pass what the lower level class was able to complete 8 years ago. (See attached example of physics exams)


Maine’s Education and Cultural Affair Committee commissioned a 2 year study to be conducted on this issue. David Silvernail and the USM Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation posted their work April 30, 2014 titled Implementation of a Proficiency-Based Diploma System: Early Experiences in Maine. Although this work was funded by the Nellie Mae Foundation, which strongly advocated for proficiency based education this report is not a glowing report. There evidence of success is lacking: “After an extensive review of the literature, it became evident that, while there are many conceptual pieces describing what a standards-based or proficiency-based education system should look like, there are few existing conceptual models that envelop all of the requisite elements for successful implementation. Furthermore, there is limited empirical evidence of the effectiveness of these systems, which has resulted in school districts having little historical information and no clear evidence to guide them in developing the new diploma systems.” (pgs. 16-17).

Bill Gates who funding these education reform fads has said, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.”

New Hampshire students are following another education reform model that has no proof of improving academic achievement and may already be harming the quality of education your children are receiving.

New Hampshire started following the federal reforms under Governor Lynch and they continue today under Governor Hassan.  This is not leadership towards academic excellence in our schools.  This is another experiment on the children in New Hampshire.

Is it time to demand better from our elected officials?  Is it time to star asking: Where’s the PROOF? Is it time to demand some INDEPENDENT analysis on what these reforms are doing to our schools and our children?

I hope your answer is YES.

Ann Marie Banfield currently volunteers as the Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire.  She has been researching education reform for over a decade and actively supports parental rights, literacy and academic excellence in k-12 schools.