Education

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Nearly every school in the state has students like Tristan Quismundo. He goes to high school in Londonderry and failed English his sophomore and junior years.

“I kind of just get distracted, and wander off think about other things, ‘cause I don’t really find English literature that interesting.”

But as of 2008, students like Quismundo have another option. Now he’s a senior, and instead of just making another go at the classroom, he signed up for VLACS, the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School.

VLACS By The Numbers

Dec 18, 2014
Sara Plourde / NHPR
New Hampshire Institute of Art

After about a year of searching, the New Hampshire Institute of Art has named a new President.

A music professor from Seattle will take over as president of the Institute. Kent Devereaux currently teaches at and chairs the Music Department at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle.

Devereaux praises the Institute’s undergraduate programs and a new Master of Fine Arts program and says they’ll attract more students.

Many students at Keene State College in New Hampshire and Mount Wachusett Community College in Massachusetts already know something about the widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else. Now, the schools are working together to get them to do something about it.

Ryan Lessard for NHPR

A new report finds New Hampshire college graduates are – once again – burdened with the most student debt.

According to the annual report from the nonprofit Project on Student Debt, students who graduated from Granite State colleges and universities in 2013 had an average debt of nearly $33,000, the highest in the nation.

This marks the third time in four years New Hampshire has had the highest average debt, after ranking second highest last year.

Via Wikimedia Commons

Three school districts in New Hampshire are sharing a federal grant worth nearly $10 million to improve access to mental health services in schools.

The grant to the Berlin public schools, the Franklin school district and the district covering Colebrook, Stewartstown and Pittsburg will serve about 4,000 people for five years. About 700 adults will be trained each year with the goal of making schools safer and reducing bullying, suspensions, substance abuse and behavioral problems.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

As early as next year, college students in New Hampshire teacher preparation programs will be taking a new test. It’s known as the TCAP, and all 14 of the state’s teacher education schools are adopting it voluntarily. While some states have opted to sign on to tests designed elsewhere, the Granite State has blazed its own trail when it comes to creating what has been compared to a bar exam for teachers.

Every student teacher who has graduated from UNH knows about the Portfolio. It was a collection of reams of lesson plans, tests, handouts; the artifacts of teaching.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

  Many teachers and teachers-of-teachers will tell you that after passing your certification exams, graduating and getting your certificate, you’re still not ready to teach.

“You have the idea of what’s going to go on, but when you walk in the idea is usually just blown to heck and back,” says Joe Cilley a high-school art teacher at Belmont high school.

“The problem is that college is theory, it’s all theory! It’s not practice,” adds Kelly Hamilton, who teaches English in Belmont.

Via UNH Website

A long-time benefactor to the University of New Hampshire is giving the school $10 million in scholarship support to students from the state.

The gift, announced Monday, is from Harvard alum and Tuftonboro resident Dana Hamel and will increase the endowment of the already existing Hamel Scholars fund. It will mean the fund has $17 million dedicated to scholarships for New Hampshire students who show academic excellence, leadership and community involvement. The school hopes the money will help make the school more competitive with high-performing students.

As the fall college term gets underway, some Upper Valley students are finding themselves in limbo. That’s because they had enrolled in New Hampshire’s Lebanon College, only to find out without warning that their school was closing.

Ryan Lessard for NHPR

The University of New Hampshire's Manchester campus will move into a new building next spring as it begins offering new programs in science and technology.

The campus will move from its current location on Commercial Street into the historic and renovated Pandora Mill building in March.

The building sat vacant with trees growing from its rooftop for decades before the restoration efforts began several years ago.

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.

The Portland Public School Department plans to launch an online program this year. The district is trying to get a slice of the virtual school pie as it faces competition for students — and funding. But some educators remain skeptical of yet another online option. Portland officials say it's an important — and innovative — option for students.

The first day of school is a busy one for Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. He rides his bike to district schools to personally welcome students back.

NHPR Staff

A unanimous New Hampshire Supreme Court ruling out today says a controversial school choice program will once again be able to give tax-credit-funded scholarships to religious schools, but today’s ruling is far from the final word.

Under the Education Tax Credit, companies can give donations for scholarships, and claim 85 percent off their business taxes. Scholarship organizations use those donations to give money to students who want to change to private school, a different public school, or homeschool.

USDA / Flickr CC

The Manchester School Board voted Monday night not to apply for a new federal program that provides free breakfast and lunch to all students, but the state’s largest city is not alone in opting out of the program.

Any school where forty percent of students receive food stamps (SNAP), or temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) is eligible for a USDA program which began in 2010, but was only expanded to New Hampshire this year. It ensures that every student is fed breakfast and lunch.

But there’s a catch.

Four New Charter Schools Set To Open In New Hampshire

Aug 25, 2014
Mountain Village Charter School

Most students across New Hampshire return to school this week, including students at Mountain Village Charter School in Plymouth. The school is one of the state’s four new charter schools opening this fall.

The actual building for Mountain Village Charter School is still under construction. So for the first week, the school’s 38 elementary students will be outside.

Teachers lead the students through a Swahili song and have them bark like dogs - mostly as a way to start the school year on a fun note.

Plymouth State Drops SAT And ACT Scores For Applicants

Aug 22, 2014

Students applying to Plymouth State University will no longer be required to submit SAT and ACT scores.

The University has decided to step away from the standardized tests, and put more emphasis on a student's high school GPA. Andrew Palumbo, Plymouth's Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management, says the GPA is simply a better measure of how prepared a student is for college.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

The president of Franklin Pierce University is resigning.

James Birge says he’ll step down next year, no later than June 15.

He’s been the head of the university in Rindge for six years, and is the school’s fourth president.

“I am proud of the accomplishments at Franklin Pierce and excited about its future because of these achievements,” Birge said. “As I reflected on these accomplishments and we begin to establish and implement additional changes at the University, I realized it is a good time to move on to allow new leadership to take on the new challenges.”

Plymouth State University

The president of Plymouth State University is stepping down.

Sara Jayne Steen has been president of the university for nine years, and says she will step down from the post in June of next year.

In a message to staff, Steen says this will allow her time for other academic pursuits and to travel with her husband.

Steen is also vice chair of the New Hampshire Higher Education Commission and on the executive committee of the New Hampshire College and University Council.

The University System Board will begin a national search for a new president this fall.

NHPR / Michael Brindley

The end of the school year in Nashua marks the end of the line for an after school program that organizers say was vital for the city’s middle school students.

Baker Memorial Library
Flickr Creative Commons

The Dartmouth College alumna who is the creative force behind TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” returned to her alma mater to give Sunday’s commencement speech.  Shonda Rhimes spent much of her speech talking about the practical realities of daily life.  She also derided commencement speakers who tell students to dream big.

US Army Corp of Engineers / Flickr CC

There’s a database in New Hampshire, nestled in hard-drives in the Department of Education, with all sorts of information about student test scores, graduation rates, and achievement. It shows how poor kids do on tests compared to rich kids, and how minorities do compared to whites, and whether schools are improving on those tests.

Whenever the data in it is accessed, it’s totally anonymous; only a handful of employees at the DOE can match these test-scores with student names.

The president of the University of New Hampshire wants to hold the line on tuition costs for at least another two years.

NHPR Staff

Former Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, John Broderick, will step down as dean of the UNH law school.

Broderick will become the first executive director for the Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership and Public policy, which opened last year.

The Rudman Center, which is part of the UNH law school, seeks to provide leadership training and foment commitment to public service.

  The week started with the news of Southern New Hampshire University’s new $10,000 bachelor’s degree program. Recent undergraduate enrollment numbers show the small, Manchester school is now equal in size to UNH in Durham, with a vast majority of its students online. 

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

At a recent cookout behind the red-brick mill building that houses UNH Manchester, senior Derek Burkhardt describes what’s been an eight-year run to get his bachelor’s.

“I actually attended UNH Manchester right out of high school,” says Burkhardt. “But I took some time off in between school to save up some money to be able to afford school, but also to join AmeriCorps. So once I was done with that I came back to continue my education.”

Like many students here Burkhardt says he chose UNH Manchester because that’s where he lives.

Allison Quantz for NHPR

Susy Struble was a 16-year-old high school student when, during a weekend visit to Dartmouth College, she was raped at an off-campus party.

Like many rape victims, Struble chose not to tell anyone about the assault, and two years later, she was back at Dartmouth as a student.

One night during her freshman year, she opened her door to a tall, sandy-haired man. Obviously drunk, he forced his way in, pushed Struble against the wall and tried to kiss her. Struble was able to fend off her attacker, who she realized was the same man who had raped her two years earlier.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

If it seems like, these days, everyone is talking about STEM - that now common acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs - it's because they are.

In this animated two-way, we take a look at what the push for STEM means for the state - from our public university system, to the State House, and through the business community - and for students.

College Board / https://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/trends-2010-tuition-discounting-institutional-aid-report.pdf

Rising tuition attracts a lot of headlines, but the amount that schools give out in financial aid is also on the rise.  Financial aid can make higher education more accessible to low-income students, but it can also serve as a tool to attract the types of students school want to attract, and to fill seats that might otherwise go empty. Lucy Lapovsky is an education consultant who has studied the question of how much students are actually paying for college and spoke to All Things Considered Host Brady Carlson. 

Some of the troubles plaguing higher education are hitting institutions a lot harder in New Hampshire. High public tuition? We have the highest. State aid to public universities? We have among the lowest. For many students, that means they're facing huge debts which will be difficult to repay. That reality is causing students and institutions to reevaluate.

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