The Hippo


Apr 25, 2019








The year in education
Common Core, colleges and charters


Common Core

In 2014, Granite State schools were required to adopt the Common Core State Standards Initiative, or a comparable alternative, and use the Smarter Balanced exams, which replaced the NECAPs. Manchester took its own route, having K through 5 mostly follow Common Core but using Manchester Academic Standards in middle and high school.
David Ryan, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the Manchester Academic Standards are a revised version of the Common Core, with changes primarily to high school math and English and middle school math. Teams of teachers are working to revise curricula, he said. 
“They say we can set up any standards we want, but we still have to take a statewide standardized test,” Ward 9 School Board member Arthur Beaudry said. “If we don’t do well on the test, we’ll have to change our standards. ... The Department of Education says we have to take the Smarter Balanced test or we lose out on federal money. The school board said we are not going to take the Smarter Balanced test. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens here.”
The Smarter Balanced test is supposed to be given in March, Beaudry said. As it stands, the Manchester school board has voted to send a letter to the DOE saying the district is not going to take the test, he said.
“We are in a conversation with the Board of School Committee to determine what the next [step] will be with regard to taking the statewide assessment,” Ryan said.
Community College System
New Hampshire Technical Institute, one of seven schools in the state’s community college system, endured two rounds of staffing cuts this year, one at the start of the school year, when 14 positions were axed, and another in November, when five full-time positions and one part-time position were cut, NHPR reported. But there is another side to the coin.
“We reduced tuition by 5 percent, and we grew enrollment by 4 percent this past year. We are doing well compared to the national average. We used increased support from the legislature to decrease tuition,” Chancellor Ross Gittell said.
With colleges having independence, some set their own enrollment targets. Gittell said some exceeded enrollment targets and some fell short, which has led to the layoffs.
“We are increasing enrollment and graduation in areas and programs that are most important for the state’s economy,” he said. 
Over the last four years, there has been an increase in degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as degrees and certificates increased 30 percent. Additionally, advanced manufacturing enrollment has increased 60 percent since 2010, Gittell said, and enrollment of high school age children has increased 15 percent this year.
While the idea of a merger between Southern New Hampshire University and the New Hampshire Institute of Art was floated earlier this year, and an initial deadline of Sept. 1 was established, nothing has come to fruition.
“These were exploratory discussions,” SNHU President Paul LeBlanc said in a recent phone interview. “Those discussions extended a little bit longer, and it became clear that there was a lot of NHIA stakeholder concern, and we agreed to hit the pause button and set aside our discussions. As of now, there is no active discussion about a merger underway. We are good neighbors and colleagues, and we’ll continue to find ways to work together, and if it makes sense to revisit the question, we’ll do so.”
Charter Schools
Following a two-year state moratorium on charter schools, four new ones opened in New Hampshire in August and September.
In Manchester, The Founders Academy serves grades 6 through 8; grades 9 to 12 will be offered, with ninth grade starting next year. The Founders Academy now has 106 enrollees. There is currently a wait list. 
“The plan that we have, the first year we’d open with 100 students, second year 200, and so on,” said Thomas Frischknecht, founder. “We want to focus on sixth, seventh, eighth grade, then add one grade every year.”
Granite State Arts Academy in Derry has 55 students in grades 9 through 12. Wendie Leweck, founder and business manager, said the number is on par with what was anticipated.
“We anticipate, in our second year, to double our enrollment,” Leweck said. 
Gate City Charter School for the Arts in Merrimack has an enrollment of 140 students in grades K through 6. Expansion up to Grade 8 is planned, said Bill Anderson, school director.
“Next year will we be doing a lottery again for incoming kindergarten kids and seventh-graders, and we will be adding a seventh-grade class. The year after that, we will be moving to an eighth-grade class,” Anderson said.
The Mountain Village Charter School, a nature-based Montessori school in Plymouth serving grades K through 8, also opened. 
As seen in the December 25, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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