Standards and Accountability: New Hampshire’s accountability system could be improved. Clear and specific standards are in place at all levels for mathematics and science. But the American Federation of Teachers has rated the state’s English standards as clear and specific only at the middle school level, while its social studies/history standards are clear and specific for middle and high schools.
The state has tests based on its content standards for English and math in high schools, but it has dropped all tests for science and social studies.
New Hampshire uses multiple-choice and short-answer questions to measure students’ performance in high schools for the 2004-05 school year.
The state accountability system relies on two methods to hold all schools responsible for results. The state publishes test data on school report cards and uses those scores to help rate schools.
But New Hampshire does not provide help to both Title I and non-Title I schools rated low-performing, nor does it have sanctions for both low-performing Title I and non-Title I schools. The state also lacks monetary rewards for high-performing or improving schools.
Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality: New Hampshire’s low grade is due, in part, to its scant efforts related to the professional support and training of teachers. While the state has professional-development standards, it uses federal funds to pay for professional development for teachers. New Hampshire also fails to require and finance mentoring for novices or set aside time for professional development.
All teachers in New Hampshire must pass a basic-skills test. In addition, high school teachers must pass subject-matter exams to earn their initial teaching licenses. But only middle school teachers of math and science must pass exams in the subjects they plan to teach. Similarly, the state requires potential high school teachers to have subject-area majors, but middle school teachers seeking K-8 licenses need not complete a minimum amount of coursework in particular subjects.
Instead, middle school teachers have several options for showing subject-knowledge expertise.
New Hampshire requires all prospective teachers to spend a full semester student teaching before becoming licensed.
Of the states that regulate alternative routes into the teaching profession, New Hampshire is one of 12 that do not require all alternative-route candidates to demonstrate subject-matter expertise before entering the classroom.
The state uses its program-approval and -review process to identify low-performing teacher-preparation programs, but it does not hold such programs accountable for the classroom performance of their graduates.
School Climate: New Hampshire received one of the highest grades for school climate, in part because of its strong showing on indicators of student engagement and school safety on the background survey of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Other data about the state show that New Hampshire offers few options for public school choice. It has a limited open-enrollment policy, and its charter school law is considered weak by the Center for Education Reform.
School report cards include information on school safety and class size. The school-size indicators place New Hampshire in about the middle of the rankings nationally across all grade levels.
Equity: New Hampshire has one of the lowest grades for resource equity. The state has one of the worst wealth-neutrality scores of the 50 states, ranking 39th. That figure means that there are inequities based on local property wealth in the amount of state and local revenue that districts have available for education.
New Hampshire also has one of the highest coefficients of variation of the 50 states, at 19.3 percent, another sign that per-pupil spending varies widely across districts.
The state ranks low on the spending index at 41st of the 50 states and the District of Columbia: The index considers how many students are in districts spending at or above the national average, and how far below the average the remaining students fall.
The state’s proportion of total taxable resources spent on education, 3.7 percent, is a tenth of a point below the national average.