State To Manchester: 'Smarter Balanced' Test Is Not Optional

Sep 4, 2014

Credit Melanie Holtsman / Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Department of Education has rejected the Manchester School District’s request to opt-out of a new standardized test to be given this spring. In a letter to the school district, Education Commissioner Virginia Barry writes that if Manchester doesn’t administer the Smarter Balanced exam, it could lose nearly $17 million in federal education funds.

Manchester’s desire to opt out of the Smarter Balanced exam stems from a School Board vote last year which directed the district to write its own academic standards. Those standards were meant to replace the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted by 43 states around the country and have become highly controversial.

Manchester had hoped to skip the Smarter Balanced in favor of something not aligned to the Common Core, now that they’re rolling out what they call the “Manchester Academic Standards.”

While Commissioner Barry rules out using another exam during this school year, she writes that state officials are in talks with the US Department of Education, to “hopefully achieve greater flexibility in assessment strategies” in coming years.