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Manchester And Nashua Miss Federal Bar For Test Participation

Flicker CC

The two biggest school districts in the state have not met the federal benchmarks set for participation in a controversial state-wide standardized test, known as the Smarter Balanced.

The Smarter Balanced has become the frontline in the political battle over the Common Core, a set of new education standards.

In Nashua, more than half of eleventh graders got parental permission to skip the tests.

Marc Conrad, Nashua’s superintendent of schools, says in grades three through seven 99 percent of students took the test, but only 93 percent of eighth graders and 55 percent of eleventh graders participated.

He says while younger students opting-out are likely driven by concerned parents, when it comes to the 370 high-schoolers who got permission to skip the test “in this case I think it was students who were learning how to work the system so they could receive an exception from having to pursue a rigorous assessment.”  

That dropped the district’s overall participation rate to 92 percent; the federal government requires the district maintain 95 percent participation. According to the Department of Education, Manchester also did not meet its target level.

It's unlikely these schools will face sanctions, though state and federal officials could act to bring participation in the schools back up.

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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