Education

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

As this school year comes to a close, teachers are preparing for next fall, when a massive transition will begin. Starting next year, schools are expected to align their teaching to the Common Core State Standards. Those standards are a set of learning goals for public school students that have been adopted in 45 states and the District of Colombia. Released in 2010, they lay out what students should know when they finish each grade.

By the 2014-2015 school year, the new Common Core State Standards are set to be in full effect.

  • What are the Common Core standards?
  • Where do they come from?
  • Why the push for new educational standards at all?
  • What arguments are critics making against it?
  • What exactly will change for students & teachers in the classroom?
  • How will the new standardized testing affect school curriculum?

In a week-long series, NHPR education reporter Sam Evans-Brown answers all these questions and more on the Common Core.

biologycorner / Flickr Creative Commons

Starting today New Hampshire teachers and students can get a preview of the standardized test that will replace the New England Common Assessment or NECAP in 2015. The Smarter Balanced Assessment opened a practice test to the public Wednesday. The practice tests in Math and English for grades three through eight, and grade eleven can be accessed through the Smarter Balanced consortium’s website.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

New Hampshire will have to wait a little longer for more flexibility from the federal education law No Child Left Behind. The US Department of Education granted three more states waivers today, but New Hampshire was not on the list.

With the addition of Alaska, Hawaii and West Virginia there are now 37 states that the DOE has exempted from many of the requirements of No Child Left Behind. Eight states, including New Hampshire, have waivers pending.

Oral arguments were heard Friday in a lawsuit which will determine if the state’s new education tax credit is constitutional. The state argues that for the tax credit to be considered unconstitutional, the judge has to consider first if directing money through a tax credit is the same as spending money in the budget. Next the judge will have to determine if because some parents use that money to send their kids to religious schools, does that violate the state’s constitution?

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the controversial Education Tax Credit will be heard today in Strafford County Superior Court. The law was passed last year by Republicans seeking to create more avenues for educational choice. But Democrats say it saps resources from Public schools and have targeted the law for repeal.

Morning Edition host Rick Ganley spoke with NHPR Education Reporter, Sam Evans-Brown about the lawsuit. 

Liz Faiella for NHPR

  For the first time in six years, Dartmouth cancelled classes in the arts and sciences Wednesday. The College administration instead scheduled what it calls a “Day of Reflection and Understanding” after threatening messages were left for some students on an anonymous online discussion board. 


New Hampshire’s public universities made a pitch for restored funding to the budget writers in the New Hampshire State Senate Monday, but they got a lukewarm response.

The federal government has approved Southern New Hampshire University’s online College for America.

This is the first time that a program not based on grades and credit hours has qualified for federal financial aid. College for America is competency based, which according to SNHU President Paul Leblanc, allows students a lot more flexibility. To explain what competency based education means, Leblanc says, “the key is if you can show us if you’ve mastered that writing competency in a week, then we’re not going to make you sit through 15 weeks of college composition.”

Sheryl Rich-Kern, NHPR

As college costs rise around the country, some small private colleges are finding a new way to attract students—by offering financial incentives.  Some are offering discounts. Others are freezing tuition.  But New England College in Henniker has come up with its own plan to attract a wider range of students.

Beginning this May, it’s offering a year-round academic calendar, allowing students to save money by graduating in three years instead of four.

Nature Schools Gaining Popularity In N.H.

Apr 11, 2013

Nature preschools and forest kindergartens may sound more fun than foundational. But this nontraditional approach to early learning is gaining popularity for teaching the basics while getting kids away from screens and out into nature.  And now Antioch University in Keene has begun offering a teacher education program for nature-based curricula and programs schools.

Michael Brindley/NHPR

Children with special needs are required to have someone making critical decisions about what’s in the best interest of their education. But some children have no one to fill that role.

That’s where New Hampshire’s educational surrogate program comes in. But it’s need of more volunteers to fill gaps in some parts of the state.

Linda Potter always starts her training sessions with a lesson in perception.

“Tell me what you see,” she asks the group.

Sam Evans-Brown / Data: Department of Education

Today the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed a budget that doesn’t fund $2.5 million for new charter schools. If that policy stands it would be mean a de facto, two-year moratorium on charter schools. It’s a move that was met with surprise and confusion by charter school advocates. But to understand the decision takes knowing something about the long, political history of charter schools.

Governor Wentworth School District

A snow day isn’t what it used to be for some students in the Granite State. Many New Hampshire schools are adopting what are known as blizzard bag days.

The concept has been popular among the schools that use it, but the program has yet to take off statewide.

You're 8 years old, and you're excited that there's a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. Then you get a phone message.

“Due to inclement weather and treacherous road conditions, school is canceled for all Governor Wentworth Schools.”

You start thinking snow day. But then...

Sheryl Rich-Kern, NHPR

This week, New Hampshire became the third state in the country to announce it will no longer use GED Testing Services for its high school equivalency exams.

Beginning in 2014 , the state is moving to Educational Testing Service, also known as ETS.

And instructors are urging the more than 1,400 adult learners in the state to finish their GED exams before the end of the year.

Otherwise, they’ll have to face starting over with a new test that will be harder to pass.

GED has been the brand name for high school certifications for almost 70 years.

Sheryl Rich-Kern

A team of Nashua High School students is trying to create a bacteria-powered battery that runs off a composter. The team is one of 16 around the country that received up to 10-thousand-dollars in seed money from the Lemelson-MIT Program.

UNH EOS

Monday marks the beginning of a collaboration between UNH’s space and earth research team, and the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Redjar / Flickr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has passed a bill that would end what has been called a moratorium on new charter schools. The bill still has a way to go before it is law, but charters in the pipeline could still open in time for next school year.

N.H. Department of Education

Governor Maggie Hassan plans to nominate Virginia Barry for a second term as the state’s commissioner of education.

Hassan will present Barry’s nomination to the Executive Council on Wednesday. The reappointment to a second four-year term is subject to the council’s approval.

Barry took over as the state’s education chief in 2009. Prior to that, she was a professor at Plymouth State University. She is also a former elementary school teacher and principal.

The Senate heard arguments Tuesday for a bill that would send more than $200 million to higher education.


Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire House of Representatives has voted, 188 to 151, to repeal the Education Tax Credit that took effect less than two months ago. The law grants an 85% tax credit to businesses that donate to scholarship organizations, which give the money to students going to a private school, an out-of-district public school, or home school.

Sheryl Rich-Kern

At the start of this spring semester, Manchester’s three high schools are launching two new initiatives around computer-based learning.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

The House Ways and Means Committee heard testimony Thursday on a bill that would repeal the School Choice Scholarship Act, which passed last year. The act allows businesses to receive a tax credit when they donate scholarship money to private schools.

Many of the same arguments that were heard last session came up again this time, as lawmakers debated whether or not a tax credit for businesses that fund private and even religious schools is wise – or even constitutional.

Keene, N.H., Schools To Have Police Visits

Jan 22, 2013

The police department and school district in Keene, N.H., are starting a program to have police officers visit the schools on a random, but daily, basis as part of their regular patrols.

New Charter schools hoping to open next fall will likely have to wait a while longer before they can submit their applications to the state. A proposal to fix the charter school funding problem was delayed in the legislative shuffle.

According to the Attorney General’s office, the Department of Education can’t approve any new charter schools until a budget has been passed. That means a number of schools that were hoping to open in the fall, are hanging in limbo: unsure if they’ll have time to apply

Ben McLeod / Flickr Creative Commons

Civil liberties groups have filed suit challenging the constitutionality of New Hampshire’s Tax Credit Scholarship law. The ACLU has teamed up with Americans United for Separation of Church and State to for the complaint.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

The Department of Education is set to release the culmination of three years of work. It’s a model system of how the DOE recommends schools should evaluate their teachers. New Hampshire schools are free to do what they will with those recommendations… for now.

For starters, why do teacher evaluations matter?

New Hampshire’s Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry has put improving the state’s public school teachers at the center of her time in the office, and she has a ready answer to that question.

Flikr Creative Commons / Kawwsu29

On January 1st businesses can start getting tax breaks for donating to organizations that give public school students money toward going to a private school. But before that law has even taken effect, there are proposals to change it.

The business tax credit scholarship law was never popular with Democrats, who called it a back-door school vouchers measure. Governor-elect Maggie Hassan has said that she would try to repeal it, and a Manchester Representative, Peter Sullivan, will file a bill that would do just that.

Flikr Creative Commons / rex libris

Online courses in higher education have been around for decades. Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester has been offering online courses since 1996.

Now the university is piloting a new online model — one that dispenses with courses, grades and credit hours. College for America is a low-cost, nontraditional approach that's getting a lot of attention. And it may be the first of its kind to get federal approval by the Department of Education.

An online petition asks the Nashua school district to establish anti-discrimination policies for transgender students.

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