LACONIA — The state's new Smarter Balanced Assessment tests that Laconia High School students will be taking for the first time this spring may be replaced next year by redesigned SAT tests according to Laconia Superintendent of Schools Terry Forsten.
She told members of the School Board last night that many educators across the state are looking at making the change next year and reverting to the SAT, which is coming out with a redesigned format which will stress college and career ready skills, real world problem solving and evidence based reading, writing and math.
''We may be able to use the SAT if the state gets a waiver (from federal requirements),'' said Forsten, who added that she will be watching closely the SAT results from the Londonderry and Alton school districts, which will, be pioneers in taking those tests this year.
She said that there are significant challenges faced in engaging high school students in standardized state tests that ''don't hold any weight with them.'' She said that the SATs, which for decades have been used to assess a student's readiness for college, provide more of a built-in incentive for students and may be a better way of engaging their interest,
''A lot of schools are saying let's go with the SAT,'' said Forsten.
School board members, many of whom expressed concern over how well students would adapt to the new Smarter Balanced Assessment tests when presented with a preview of a fourth grade Math test last year, appeared generally supportive of the proposed switch.
Those tests will be taken this spring by students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 in Laconia.
Forsten said that the science testing will still be conducted using the old NECAP exam for at least the next two years.
Switching subjects, Forsten said that new opportunities may soon be available for Laconia High School students to earn associate degrees at Lakes Region Community College while still in high school.
She said that she has had preliminary discussions with LRCC President Scott Kalicki about such a program which would help make college more attainable for many students who would be able to take college courses at reduced rates and would be especially helpful for prospective nursing students, who could earn credits which would apply to nursing programs offered at LRCC and the University of New Hampshire.
The school board voted to adopt a 2015-16 school calendar which will see schools in the Laconia hold their first day of classes on August 31, several days later than the opening day of school in the current school year.
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