I remember years ago when the former U.S. Secretary of Eduction, Arne Duncan, made a bold statement when he said:
“As a country we’ve dummied down standards. We’ve reduced them due to political pressure and, we’ve actually been lying to children and parents telling them they’re ready when they’re not.”
What happens when a school district is in the spotlight for being successful, but the teachers and students who attend the school or have graduated, say something else?
Sanborn is one of the school districts in New Hampshire that has implemented many of the federal education reforms like Common Core and Competency Based Education (CBE). Sanborn is also using the PACE assessment which is the Competency Based Assessment. I’ve been highly critical of CBE in the past, because it is a dumbed down workforce education model versus a liberal arts model focused on literacy and knowledge.
During President Obama’s term in office, the U.S. Department of Education began the process of redesigning public education in America. This included schools using Competency Based Education and the dumbed down Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Some of you may remember the failed attempt at Outcome Based Education in the 90’s. Competency Based Education is essentially the same model with a new name. CBE shifts the focus away from literacy and academics to empty “workforce skills.” There is less of a focus on academics and more of a focus on dispositions and attitudes. Valuable learning time is taken away in order to make sure students have the right attitudes in so-called 21st Century skills, like diversity.
Sanborn has been held up as a district where over half of students leave high school completing one college course. As you can see from the post below, Brian Stack from Sanborn, was in Washington D.C. to talk about what Sanborn does to prepare students for college and career. One of the graduates from Sanborn attempted to dispute this claim, but her comments were removed from the district’s Facebook page.
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It appears as if Sanborn is now censoring comments from actual students who offer contradictory facts and information.
Hayden Robinson, who goes by Hayden Lauren on her Facebook page, responded to Sanborn’s post by saying,
“Alright guys, so Sanborn Regional High School has deleted two of my comments from this post, so I’m gonna speak my mind this way. They don’t prep kids for college what so ever. If I had went to college after I graduated, I’d have been screwed. With their lack of deadlines and policies that make it so you cannot fail even if you try, that’s not how college works at all. But that’s not all, they pressure kids into going because it looks good for the school. However most 18 and 19 year olds don’t know what they want to do for a career so why make them choose one? Let my voice be heard Sanborn. No deleting this one.
Other Sanborn graduates then commented on her post acknowledging the numerous problems they had while attending Sanborn Regional High School. Another student commented:
“Oh you mean like the reply letter to my transcript from Missouri saying “We don’t understand your transcript or grading system”.
Hayden then replied:
“ A ton of people got those, like the really nice colleges too”
Colleges cannot understand the Competency Based Grading that Sanborn is using in the district. How does this help students who want to apply and attend college?
As the comments focused on the failures of CBE one Sanborn Grad said,
“if it helps any, the teachers dont like it either. I know a few teachers who loath it.“
Hayden then replied:
“It’s true, which is why so many left, it’s crazy”
When I asked about this propaganda video put out by the New Hampshire Department of Education promoting the PACE assessments, Hayden said:
….Ann Marie Banfield “I think the teachers that were talking in this video are just following along. And also, most of the Sanborn speakers in that video weren’t teachers, but the librarian and assistant principal and what not. But the teachers that were talking against the system either left or are just staying quiet about it”
If you’ve attend a State Board of Education Meeting, you will hear how wonderful Sanborn is doing with Competency Based Education. I guess when you censor comments and silence students (and teachers), you can sell propaganda– even to a United States Senator. Maybe Senator Hassan should take time and sit down with the actual students who could offer her a critical analysis on what’s really going on in Sanborn.
Finally, one parent (Hayden’s mother) summed it all up with this statement:
Not to mention their State & National testing scores have been going down over the last 10+ years. They think they are doing such good for their students – but in the long run, they are just hurting them.
Is this a case of a district claiming success in public education but ignoring the data and personal stories from students who’ve graduated? It sure looks that way. Why would they not want to hear from the students who’ve graduated on whether or not they’ve been successful? 28% of the 11th grade students scored proficient in math in 2015-2016 at Sanborn Regional High School. Is that what we now consider successful? Is this what Senator Hassan wants to present as success in New Hampshire public education? Why wouldn’t she take the time to look at the data and listen to the students and parents? Half of the graduates passed one college class and that’s now the measurement for success?
Hayden told me that she had a teacher at Sanborn who talked about how some of the teachers hated the grading system and hated what they were doing to Sanborn. I’ve heard this from other teachers in New Hampshire, too. Unfortunately, these teachers will not speak up publicly because they know that’s a way to receive a pink slip at the end of the year.
That now begs the questions: Is Sanborn now lying to parents as the former U.S. Secretary of Education has suggested in the past?
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. You can contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As an education researcher, typographical errors in your blog posts should not exist. Please fix the following errors:
Just an FYI, anecdotes are not the same as data. The low competency scores for 11th grade are concerning. More data, less of “a person told me this”
Don’t disagree, but that student comments are being censored perhaps indicates they have the ring of truth.
School administrators are generally pretty sensitive to critical comments. Not sure I would leap to some larger effort to hide poor performance. If you look at reading for the same grade – they got a 55th percentile (good). And the lower grades (not the high school) generally get around average percentiles (also good). Looking back at the previous years, the mathematics percentile has been generally in the 30% range or so. Looks like they need some focused effort in improving their math curriculum. But I’m not sure this singular subject should be used to condemn the entire program/school. Since this is a school that serves multiple towns, would be interesting to know if kids from certain towns do worse than others, which might suggest that there are larger issue too. Interesting.
I agree in large part with what you are saying, Dennis. However, not so much with your first premise. When an administration has invested a large amount of time/tax-payer money, there could very well be less of a sensitivity to criticism and more of a desire to ‘c.y.a.’ in the interest of justifying going down a long, winding road that may not necessarily get you to where you claimed it would get you
Administrators that have nothing to hide aren’t sensitive to criticism. They welcome it as an opportunity to educate. Also consider what you’re considering “good.” Scoring in the 55th percentile? If barely half of the kids are proficient in their own language and the public considers that “good,” then we’re in dire straights. I’m not sure Sanborn is different than other districts, which makes it an example of what’s wrong with education in general. But given that they’re being ballyhooed around the country despite their poor showing is a deeply concerning commentary on education.
Perhaps they have a stake in the program. Check on that.
Brian Stack co-authored the book with Jonathan VanderEls who is the Executive Director of New Hampshire Learning Initiative. He also has a financial interest$$$ in Competency Based Education. Their mission is: “to accelerate innovation in K-12 education to move schools forward in helping our students become competent and confident adults, able to pursue the futures they seek in college, career, and beyond.” This has become a product to sell and it is coming at the expense of censoring students who are trying to say, it’s not working.
Who is serving on the Board of Directors for New Hampshire Learning? Some of the same people who’ve ignored parents across New Hampshire who do not want Common Core:
> Bill Duncan (State Board of Education)
> Virginia Barry (Former Commissioner of Education)
> Dr. Marc Joyce (Former Lobbyist for the Superintendents Assoc.)
True, Rich. Unfortunately education overall has moved away from being a center for disparate views. The administrative culture at Sanborn has had the reputation for being somewhat dictatorial
How much more proof do you need?
As a student currently attending, I completely agree. Competency based grading is a mess, and many teachers have issues with the online gradebook. I had to stay a few days after school ended because one of my final assesments was graded, but not put in to the gradebook, leading me to almost fail the course. It should not be this difficult to get a working grading system in place.
Hi CB, Is the online grading software internal do you know? Or do the teachers go onto web site outside of Sanborn? I agree with you. Sounds like something that should be a one minute excersize, depending on the amount of info the teachers are required to input.
Your source is one girl’s Facebook post….
Hi Jessie, Not sure I understand. Are you saying this person is not whom they say they are?
Her sources are years of research on CBE and other failed programs and grading systems.
As a Sanborn graduate, I too have heard very concerning comments from students and teachers regarding the new CORE/competency grading system, lack of deadlines, and stories about students not feeling prepared for further education. I myself experienced the bewildering transition into the new system, and do not think it was for the better. With so many of these ‘anecdotes’ circulating, I do think that the matter deserves closer attention. I think it would be great if an anonymous study on student and parent perceptions of the new system could be coordinated with follow-up into post-graduation as well. Having accurate, longitudinal data is important to understand the consequences of such reforms, and making an informed decision on what is better for students; not only relying on what the administration and some vocal persons feel about the system.
Competency Based Ed is a known failure and has been for years, as are other fads in education.
But many consultants are pushing these fads in order to make MONEY.
They don’t care if they do not work.
I have been a teacher for 35 years so I know a bit about this.
Hi Teacher, Love your frank posts. Here’s an unfair question- I’m sure any detailed answer would require pages of response. But if it were possible to narrow down a direction for successful public school education into just a small number of goals, what would be your suggestions to focus on? Let’s just limit it to High School and keep it on a pedagogical level (understanding that issues such a student’s home and health are probably at the top of anyone’s list as is probably disciplinary and safety issues at the school). Also, for High School, are approaches for preparing college oriented students for their future versus other orientations necessarily VASTLY different? Thanks, no pressure to reply. If you choose not to, these should suffice as rhetorical musings of a mad man!
As a parent having one graduated from Sanborn and one still in the system I can speak to its strengths and weaknesses. My children have been successful but not because of the school and it’s curricullym but because of the extra effort put in at home to bridge the gap of what isn’t taught in school. They are high achievers and Sanborn is not excelling at helping high achievers. The elementary schools are excellent but the middle and high school are sorely lacking in accountability and standards of excellence. Unfortunately I see the curriculum and administration catering to the lowest common denominator. No deadlines. No consequences. No finals. No reports or real projects and papers due. They can however keep retaking tests or redoing work until they get the grade they want When I spoke to Stack about this I was told the point was to ensure the student learned to concepts not penalize them for the time it took to grasp the subject matter. In effect the good grades are self inflated and our students are not learning what it takes to survive in the real world or thrive in post secondary education.