Questions and Answers About the New Hampshire Educational Improvement and Assessment Program (page 3)
NH Educational Improvement and Assessment Program (NHEIAP)
In 1993 the Legislature enacted a new chapter of state law (RSA 193-C) relative to the New Hampshire Educational Improvement and Assessment Program (NHEIAP). The purpose of the program is "to establish what NH students should know and be able to do and to develop and implement effective methods for assessing that learning and its application so that local decisions about curriculum development and delivery can be made." Challenging standards for NH students have been established in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies (The NH Curriculum Frameworks). RSA 193-C requires that all public school districts participate in the assessment portion of the program, currently New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP). Students are assessed in the fall in grades 3-8 and 11.
The results from the state tests are used to produce individual-student proficiency reports as well as diagnostic reports at the school, district, and state levels; reports that are standards-referenced rather than norm-referenced. These reports can be found on the NH School District Profile Web site. Therefore, this program promotes educational improvements and accountability in education by providing accurate, understandable information to parents, educators, local and state-level policy makers, and all citizens about student proficiency in the areas assessed; information that can be used to make informed decisions about curriculum, professional development activities and programs, instructional improvement, resource allocation, and staffing.
You can find more information about NHEIAP at: http://www.education.nh.gov/instruction/assessment/nheiap/index.htm
Questions and Answers
Q: What is NHEIAP?
A: New Hampshire has developed a five step program for educational improvement.
Step One - define what students should know and be able to do at the completion of different levels of their education.
Step Two - communicate these new standards to educators statewide.
Step Three - assist schools in developing a local improvement and assessment plan.
Step Four - develop assessment tools which accurately evaluate a student's ability to meet these new standards.
Step Five - assist schools in using assessment results to modify their local plan to improve student academic performance and achievement.
Q: Our students rank in the higher percentiles in national standardized testing. Why do we need a new program?
A: Previously-used testing instruments simply did not yield sufficient data about what students know or are able to do and were not based on challenging standards established for New Hampshire students. Norm-referenced tests provide information about how an individual child or group of children compares to all other children who took the test. On the other hand, NHEIAP defines higher standards, and evaluates a student's knowledge and his/her ability to apply that knowledge.
Q: How does the program work?
A: NHEIAP has two components: the first consists of challenging K-12 curriculum frameworks that identify what students should know and be able to do at the completion of different levels of their education; the second, uses state and local assessment tools and improvement plans to increase academic achievement.
By aligning curriculum, assessment, and instruction, we will increase academic achievement through focused curriculum and improved teaching methods.
Q: What are curriculum frameworks?
A: Curriculum frameworks are documents that outline what students should know and be able to do at the completion of certain grade levels. These challenging standards have been developed in four subject areas: English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.
Third graders are tested in English language arts and mathematics; sixth and tenth graders are tested in all four subject areas.
Q: Who created the curriculum frameworks?
A: Over a two year period, New Hampshire teachers, administrators, parents, business people, community leaders, and policy makers worked together to define what New Hampshire students should know and be able to do at the completion of different levels of their education.
Q: What does the NHEIAP test look like?
A: The tests are developed around the curriculum frameworks. They contain a mix of multiple-choice and open-ended questions to evaluate both students' knowledge and their ability to apply that knowledge.
Q: Who develops the test?
A: The state has hired a nationally-known educational contractor to develop the tests based on the curriculum frameworks. New Hampshire Content Committees participate in the design of the questions to ensure content validity and grade-level appropriateness.
Q: What will the test results tell us?
A: The test results reflect student academic achievement based on the standards set forth in the curriculum frameworks. Over time, they will evaluate the impact of local improvement plans developed to meet the new standards.
Q: How can these results be used?
A: Assessment results provide a rich source of information to support local school improvement efforts and help guide decisions about curriculum, instruction, professional development, resource allocation, and staffing. Parents, school officials, and teachers are using this information to align educational programs with the curriculum frameworks. Individual student results are being combined with other information and used by teachers and parents to make education decisions.
Q: How are results reported?
A: Each student's level of achievement is defined by one of four categories: Novice, Basic, Proficient, or Advanced, depending on what they know and are able to do in each subject area tested.
Q: What so significance about results?
A: NHEIAP results will provide schools with additional data to help them identify strengths as well as areas that need improvement. This data can be used to further the design and implementation of educational improvement activities. As more and more data on student performance are collected, schools are better able to focus improvement plans where they are needed most.
Q: What do the results tell us?
A: We now have enough data collected to affirm that the test is an effective tool that accurately measures what students know and are able to do, and the test gives us reliable data from year to year.
We are seeing results that are consistent with what other states experience. We expect to show a steady growth pattern over a number of years on the state-wide level. We will see more variations on the district and school level depending on a number of factors.
We are also identifying instructional practices that appear to make a difference. We plan to work with districts to help them share success stories and to foster a state-wide enthusiasm for effective improvement plans.
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