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NH test scores: Knocking on Japan’s door

October 28. 2013 5:34PM

If New Hampshire were a nation, it would rank among the top in international math and science scores. So why are all New Hampshire school districts being asked to adopt new, untested educational standards?

One of the supposed advantages of adopting Common Core, which includes testing, is to provide a way to compare and contrast school districts based on test scores. But the United States already has a nationwide test by which every state and school district can be evaluated. It is called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Another supposed advantage of Common Core is to raise educational standards. But New Hampshire students excel at the NAEP tests. In fact, a just-released study used NAEP scores to see how states ranked against some of the highest-and lowest-performing countries in science and math, based on eighth-grade test scores. New Hampshire finished in the top 10 in both categories. In science our kids ranked 7th, only a point behind Japan.

On the whole, New Hampshire elementary and middle schools are doing a pretty good job preparing kids to compete in the modern world. But there are pockets of poor performance. Clearly, the answer is not to impose an untested set of new standards on every district.

The key problem, as always, is to lift the underperforming districts and the underperforming kids in the more successful districts. This is best done by giving those kids more options, such as charter schools and scholarships. Our kids will compete for jobs with kids from Massachusetts, Vermont, Singapore and Japan. That competition helps spur them to succeed. Ironically, their school districts don’t have to compete with each other for students or money. If they did, we would see even better results, especially at the lower levels.

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