Fed Waiver Replaces Smarter Balanced with Grade 11 SAT

Superintendent Nate Greenberg announced that the federal government has issued a waiver to No Child Left Behind, allowing school districts across the state to administer the SAT as their grade 11 accountability assessment.

Efforts to replace the Smarter Balanced assessment with in-school SAT testing, spearheaded by Greenberg and Londonderry School District faculty members, garnered support from New Hampshire Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry, as well as administrators throughout the state.

Greenberg presented the District’s case for in-school SAT testing in grade 11 to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), which sought commitments from other New Hampshire school districts to similarly make the switch.

“We presented it at the Superintendent’s meeting, and they took a vote 99 percent in favor,” Greenberg told the School Board at its Aug. 25 meeting. “The DOE also sent out a survey to superintendents, which came back positive.”

Additionally, the District lobbied members of the New Hampshire delegation to pass a bill supporting the change in assessing students. The federal government agreed to issue the District a waiver to No Child Left Behind if HB 323 were to pass, which it did, allowing school districts in New Hampshire to use the College Board SAT or the ACT college readiness assessment to fulfill the high school assessment requirement.

Greenberg said the legislation increases concentration and focus on the SAT, boosting available instruction time and validating local initiative and control.

When the high school administered the SAT during the school day for the first time this year, 98 percent of the junior class participated.

Greenberg has said administering the SAT in grade 11 advances the District’s college and career readiness goals, with assessments serving as “an opportunity to take a meaningful exam that will assist them in achieving their post high school goals.”

Last year’s graduating class had a 90 percent acceptance rate to two- and four-year colleges, and the District’s goal for 2020 is a 95 percent acceptance rate.

Seeing the District’s success with the initiative, a number of other states are looking into making the switch as well, including Connecticut, Illinois, Utah and Michigan, according to Greenberg.

“We felt this was critically important and good for our kids,” he said. “It’s one of those times we got the rock to the top of the mountain.”

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