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New Hampshire Receives the Education Commission of the States (ECS)
Frank Newman Award for State Innovation
Commissioner of Education, Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D., announces the “Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence” Recipients

The Education Commission of the States (ECS) will honor New Hampshire’s State Board of Education and Department of Education with the prestigious Frank Newman Award for State Innovation at the 2012 National Forum on Education Policy in Atlanta on July 10. The award recognizes the state’s bold high school reforms that replace the time-based system of Carnegie units with competency-based learning and the innovation taking place in New Hampshire K-12 schools.

Since the 2008-09 school year, New Hampshire high school students earn credits based on their mastery of competencies in each course, no matter how little or much time they need. Working with their teachers, students develop individual learning plans that can include traditional classes, online courses, internships, and working with mentors.

NH Education Commissioner Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D., said, “New Hampshire educators find that when they adhere to high standards, while introducing multiple ways of achieving that high standard, students attain better outcomes.” Barry commended the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for its invaluable support. The department continues to work with foundations, Stupski, William and Flora Hewlett, and others to gain support for innovation. Business leaders in NH support schools efforts to innovate in our K-12 schools.

In 2010-2011, NH achieved an 86.6% graduation rate and the state’s dropout rate is steadily decreasing. Students benefit from personalized plans including extended learning opportunities and internships. Elementary schools are addressing competencies with strategies focused on individual student progress.

"We know students learn in different ways and at different paces. New Hampshire has boldly faced the challenges of individualizing education for students and is showing the rest of the country it can be done,” said Roger Sampson, ECS President.

Since 1988 the ECS Frank Newman Award for State Innovation has recognized states and U.S. territories for innovative education reforms or programs that improve student outcomes on a large scale. Criteria for this award include initiatives that are bold, replicable and hold valuable lessons for other states, and have bipartisan, broad-based support.

Commissioner Barry said, “This award would not be possible without the bold and forward thinking of our NH educators and I am pleased to announce the formation of the Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence an honor that recognizes schools and districts that aspire to excellence by being bold and innovative in service to children.”

Included in the Circle of Excellence are New Hampshire high schools, members of the League of Innovative Schools (LIS), committed to fostering forward thinking innovation in the design and delivery of secondary education.
The League of Innovative Schools is comprised of secondary schools from across the state, and is affiliated with the New England Secondary Schools Consortium (NESSC). The Consortium includes Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The goal of the league and the consortium is to promote innovative strategies, to establish a network of best practices that is directly linked to 21st century learning and to close persistent achievement gaps, promote greater educational equity and opportunities for all students, and lead our educators and schools into a new era. The NH LIS in Cohort I are Campbell High School, Great Bay eLearning Charter School, Kearsarge Regional High School, Pittsfield Middle High School, and the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School.

This recognition will also include schools nominated by the New Hampshire Department of Education for inclusion in the Blue Ribbon Schools Program which recognizes schools where students achieve at high academic levels and/or where the achievement gap is narrowing. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program is part of a larger United States Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about best schools’ leadership and teaching practices.

2010 Blue Ribbon Schools are Bath Village School and Hollis Brookline High School. Sandown North is the 2011 National Blue Ribbon winner. Nominated for 2012 are; Bedford Memorial, Lisbon Regional Middle School, and Canterbury Elementary.

Beech Street School in Manchester, Chichester Central School, Ledge Street School in Nashua, and the Milan Village School and are being named for inclusion to the Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence this year along with the Sanborn Regional School District that recently received the Magna Award from the National School Boards Association.
At the Champions for Children meeting on May 10, 2012, the Commissioner welcomes schools that demonstrate bold, innovative, and successful educational practices for future inclusion in the Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence.

Read the article in the Nashua Telegraph

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