New Hampshire Smarter Balanced test results are in, and they’re better than national scores

Last modified: 11/12/2015 12:37:25 AM
The results are in.

New Hampshire students exceeded the national average on the Smarter Balanced Assessment in both English language arts and mathematics. The test is meant to gauge where students are in their career and college readiness at elementary, middle and high schools.

While the state bested the scores of a 2014 Smarter Balanced national field test by a wide margin in many age categories, the one noticeable area where students lagged was high school math. Thirty-seven percent of New Hampshire’s 11th-graders didn’t meet the achievement level for math, the highest number at any grade level in either English or math, and that was just three points ahead of the national results for that age category.

But the results showed more New Hampshire students reaching higher achievement levels in English and math compared with the 2014 national field scores, which were taken by students in 21 states. The national numbers also had more students in the lowest achievement level than New Hampshire students.

Test scores were broken down into four categories: Level 1 for students who don’t meet the targeted level, Level 2 for students approaching it, Level 3 for students meeting it and Level 4 for students exceeding it.

In math, the state’s third-graders meeting or exceeding the achievement level scored 13 points better than students nationally. In eighth grade, they scored 12 points better, and in 11th grade, they scored 4 points better.

In language arts, the difference was more noticeable. New Hampshire’s third-graders in the top two categories scored 17 points better than students nationally, eighth-graders scored 17 points better and 11th-graders scored 19 points higher.

Officials from the New Hampshire Department of Education said they were pleased with the overall results, but cautioned people to not read too much into the numbers, as 2014 was the first time the test was administered.

“This is a baseline assessment. I really want to emphasize that,” said New Hampshire Education Commissioner Virginia Barry.

Department Administrator of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Scott Mantie said the test results showed “that indeed New Hampshire was doing better, but it still identified there were some areas for us to focus on.”

In particular, areas of improvement include math scores, Mantie and Barry said, adding that math should be a priority in school curricula.

Barry added the Smarter Balanced scores were in line with New Hampshire’s scores on another assessment, the National Assessment of Educational Progress. If the scores between the two had been dramatically different, “that would have been concerning,” Barry said.

Mantie said the overall rollout of the Smarter Balanced tests went better than expected last year.

Students took the test on computers, and Mantie said the department received less pushback than expected over electronic testing.

New Hampshire students and parents will get their first look at their individual test score results this morning, as school-by-school results will be released on the Department of Education’s website at 9.

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)

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