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Minutes - September 17, 2009 Retreat

New Hampshire State Board of Education
State Department of Education
101 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301

The Retreat of the State Board of Education was convened at 8:30 a.m. at Plymouth State University, Concord Campus, 2 Pillsbury Street, Concord, NH. Chairman Lyons presided.

Members present: John E. Lyons, Jr., (left at 12:30 p.m.); Fredrick J. Bramante, Jr., Helen G. Honorow, Daphne Kenyon, Stephen R. L'Heureux, (arrived at 11:30 a.m.); Tom Raffio, (left at 10:30 a.m., returned at 1:00 p.m.); and William Walker.

Also in attendance were Virginia M. Barry, Commissioner of Education; Judith Fillion, Director, Division of Program Support; Paul Leather, Director, Division of Adult Learning and Rehabilitation;. Kathleen Murphy, Director, Division of Instruction, John Tanner of CCSSO, and Joe DiMartino of the Center for Secondary School Redesign.

General Discussion - "Thoughts on the Past 100 Days"

Commissioner Barry discussed with Board members and staff what has transpired since she became Commissioner June 1st. She said she had come in at an extraordinary time. She has been meeting with staff and is getting up to speed on the legislative process, budget, and national issues coming from the Obama Administration and Secretary Arne Duncan. Her belief is that New Hampshire is poised in education to make bold moves, based on the four assurance areas. She has concerns about managing the ARRA expectations for education within the context of a difficult state budget and personnel cuts.

Overview of Race to the Top

Paul Leather, Coordinator of Race to the Top, said that the competition requires states and departments of education to respond to four assurances, building on what is already succeeding in the state and creating a reform plan that will create bold new strategies designed to transform public education. New Hampshire's plan does just that, in each of the four broad assurance areas it is focused on promising innovations that have worked in the state in the past and proposing new innovations based on research to address areas that remain of concern. The four assurances are Standards and Assessments, Effective Teachers and Leaders, Data Systems, and Turning Around Struggling Schools. The other grants and competitions within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) were also discussed. The Secretary's intent through these ARRA educational funds is to create an educational system that will build human and social capital to grow and sustain a vibrant New Hampshire economy, focusing on goals that are not only possible, but attainable. The Department intends to work collaboratively with all levels of education, pre-school through college, as well as across government agencies and with other stakeholders, supporting all dimensions of a student's need. In this regard, the Commissioner and Cabinet have already engaged in meetings with numerous stakeholder groups, as well as leadership from key districts likely to be a part of the grant due to their Title I and School Performance status. The Commissioner has posed the following two questions to all concerned, "What if there are significant resources available to support bold change in how public education is delivered in your community? How would you go about this work in each of the four broad areas?"

Discussion on National Core Standards

John Tanner, Director, Center for Innovative Measures for the Council of Chief State School Officers, discussed the Common Core Standards and his perspective on the future of standards and assessments as part of a state's educational system. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a significant and historic opportunity for states to collectively develop and adopt a core set of academic standards in mathematics and English language arts. Forty-six states and three territories have joined the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The Initiative is being jointly led by the NGA Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with Achieve, ACT, and the College Board. It builds directly on recent efforts of leading organizations and states that have focused on developing college-and career-ready standards and ensures these standards are evidence and research based and internationally benchmarked to top-performing countries. Mr. Tanner shared his perspective on state level achievement tests based on state standards, as well as his support for other models, like Board Examination Systems, like those found internationally, and more performance based assessment models centered around student learning.

Working Lunch

Joe DiMartino reported on New Hampshire's efforts to implement Extended Learning Opportunities and High School Redesign.

During the working lunch these items were discussed in depth by Board members and staff members from the Department


Discussed implications of focusing on four assurances as a state-wide framework for school improvement

Mapping Statewide Innovations and Implementation

Judith Fillion discussed the status of the current Longitudinal Data Systems grant. She said the Department has been working with the contracted vendor, the Center for Educational Leadership and Technology, to design, develop and implement a comprehensive Statewide Longitudinal Data System. The Department is currently in the process of refining the data model and creating the Data Dictionary for the data warehouse. The Department has implemented a Data Governance Procedure to establish the foundation for collecting, managing and releasing data for improved quality, accessibility and use. Judith also discussed the status of and future directions for teacher education in New Hampshire. She said there is insufficient alignment between longstanding critical shortages in New Hampshire and the array of programs offered by IHEs. She reported that the Council for Teacher Education has been revising the 600 administrative rules to redesign program approval to support continuous improvement; the proposed changes are positive but do not quite go far enough.

Paul Leather elaborated on the Dropout Prevention Summary Report. The Department's dropout data has shown a marked improvement between the 2000-01 school year and the 2005-06 year with a 2.2% reduction in dropouts or 946 more students graduated. The 2007-08 numbers have continued the downward trend. He said that PlusTime NH and QED are working on creating a structure to operationalize Extended Learning Opportunities statewide in the same way that Virtual Learning Academy Charter School has operationalized virtual learning statewide and the Community College System's Running Start Program has done the same with dual college credit statewide. Mr. Leather said that the long-term vision is that of vibrant community learning centers that support learning for all members of the community, build social capital, and are central to strong community identity and civic engagement. He also discussed the need to further strengthen and support schools and districts work in developing competencies at the high school level, assessing student mastery of high school courses, and moving to standards based grading systems, K-12.

Kathleen Murphy reported that the Division of Instruction's three bureaus and offices provided statewide professional development training opportunities for the field and four summer institutes were offered during the summer on dropout prevention, a bullying institute, a math and science training, response to intervention, and instructional coaching for mathematics, language arts and RTI.

Kathleen reported that central to effective work with the field and our partners is continuous ongoing communication. The Division has sponsored numerous face-to-face meetings with stakeholders at the Department as well as at various sites across the state regarding the various ARRA funded increases in the title and Special Education programs. The bureaus and offices have all provided Webinars and/or teleconferences to insure the message is received by the field. Key messages and the Department Web page contains information regarding programs, regulations, and events.

H1N1 Update

Kathleen Murphy updated the Board on Pandemic H1N1. A partnership has been established with the Department of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security. DHHS conducted two workshops for nurses on assisting with flu clinics. Schools began broadcasting messages to stay home when sick, cover coughs/sneezes, and wash hands. A press release from Commissioner Barry was sent out reinforcing basic messages. The Department is very involved in this process and is updated continuously.

Discussion of Making Connections

Those present praised the Commissioner and staff for all of the work and thought that has gone into the last 100 days since the Commissioner came to the Department. They also expressed their deep concern for the lack of key personnel in the Department needed to accomplish the primary goals of the agency.


The Retreat adjourned at 3:30 p.m.


New Hampshire Department of Education
101 Pleasant Street | Concord, NH | 03301-3494
Telephone: (603) 271-3494 | TDD Access: Relay NH 711