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Manchester School Board to hear Innovation Zone update Tuesday night

New Hampshire Union Leader

November 11. 2013 9:50PM

MANCHESTER — Members of the city's school board are scheduled to hear an update Tuesday night on a proposed Innovation Zone Implementation Plan for the district.

The meeting gets underway at 7 p.m. in the office of Dyn Inc., 150 Dow St. Dyn is an internet infrastructure company.

Last month, the Board of School Committee voted nearly unanimously to develop the Manchester Academic Standards, which would use some of the ideas and concepts behind Common Core.

The city-based standards were proposed by Superintendent Debra Livingston following months of at-times contentious debate over the national standards. Under her proposal, the Common Core State Standards would serve as the "floor" for the development of the city's standards, which are being drafted over the course of the school year using several sources, including Common Core.

The Manchester standards are expected to call for certain topic areas to be taught at particular grade levels. The standards cover math and English language arts and literacy.

Starting this school year, teachers are using some Common Core standards in a pilot program for students in kindergarten through grade eight.

Livingston is scheduled to discuss draft details of her remedial plan for Manchester's seven priority schools. Student performance in these schools was in the bottom 5 percent of the state over a period of three years. The schools are recipients of federal funds targeted for low-income students.

The remediation plan being proposed includes a provision to base 20 percent of annual evaluations of teachers and principals upon student performance on NECAP assessments.

Manchester's seven priority schools are: Beech Street School, Gossler Park School, McDonough School, Middle School At Parkside, Parker-Varney School, Southside Middle School and Wilson School.

The Innovation Zone Implementation Plan would incorporate the New Hampshire Department of Education's principles for school improvement, which include providing strong instructional leadership; improving educator effectiveness; strengthening a school's instructional program and fostering family and community engagement in the school.

The board previously backed a recommendation from Livingston to hold off on any decision on whether to transition to the Smarter Balanced test, the assessment exam derived from the Common Core standards that the state Department of Education intends to use in place of the NECAP. The first Smarter Balanced test is scheduled to be offered in the spring of 2015.

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