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New Hampshire Department of Education Statewide Assessments

The New Hampshire Department of Education (NH DOE) announced today that American Institutes for Research (AIR) will be the new vendor for the statewide assessment in English language arts and mathematics for students in grades 3-8; and science for students in grades 5, 8, and 11. Commissioner Edelblut stated, “AIR is an experienced private, not-for-profit assessment vendor with access to state of the art technology and world class support. The NH DOE is confident that AIR will provide a high quality assessment designed to meet our state specific needs.”

Assessments play an important role in the education of New Hampshire students by providing parents and educators valuable feedback about student performance. New Hampshire has long valued strong assessments while trying to find the balance of ‘over-testing’ or burdening educators with a ‘teach to the test’ approach. In March 2017, with the pending expiration of the New England Common Assessment Program (science) and Smarter Balanced (ELA and math) contracts in June 2017, the NH DOE released an assessment RFP.

Sandie MacDonald, Administrator for the Bureau of Instructional Support and Student Assessment, stated, “The assessment RFP was written using information gathered through a feedback survey on the previous statewide assessment, distributed to communities through our NH schools and posted on the NH DOE web page from November 2016 to January 2017. Feedback was also received during the ESSA and NH Science Standards fall 2016 listening tours; four different educator training and information sessions (attended by over 400 NH educators) conducted throughout the state; and comments noted at NH educator and legislative meetings during the past two years.”

Proposals received by the deadline were scored by a selection committee comprised of educators, educational leaders, community, and school board members throughout the state.

Commissioner Edelblut stated, “AIR provides a number of advances over the previous assessment. We have come up with an assessment platform that is responsive to parent and educator feedback. It is a system that will allow educators to spend their time with students, focusing on instruction and not administering assessments. It is a system that will provide parents and educators timely and meaningful feedback about their students.”

Some of the advantages include:

  • ELA and Math test times have been reduced between 2 – 2.5 hours and science test times have seen reductions of 3 – 4 hours. This has allowed us to add a 1.5 hour writing assessment for students that will be AI (Artificial Intelligence) scored.
  • The system uses the same cloud-based interface allowing our educators to continue to spend their time with students focusing on instruction and not on learning how to administer a new test.
  • The system replaces the Smarter Balanced assessment items and engages NH educators in the development, review, and revision of materials, benchmarks, and test items.
  • The system provides flexibility to accommodate changes to NH academic standards.
  • The system has been selected by the College Board to administer the online version of the SAT in 2018-2019, so that NH students will be familiar with the SAT on-line interface.

Esther Asbell, Assistant Superintendent, SAU 16, said, “We are very happy that the new statewide assessment system will maintain a common platform. This will allow us to keep our focus on students and not on learning new software. We are also thrilled that the NH DOE recognized the importance of including concordance data with the new assessment. It was essential that we not have to begin again in our efforts to monitor student growth and achievement over time.”

MacDonald commented, “In addition to being customizable to NH’s needs, the AIR assessment reports will be available to parents and educators within 15 days of test completion. This quick turnaround will allow access to relevant information regarding academic achievement that can be used to help guide the instructional path of every student who participates.”

In addition to the annual summative assessments in English language arts and mathematics, and grade span assessments in science, AIR will provide an optional interim assessment system customizable by each teacher in the state. Interim assessment data will be available to teachers within minutes of a student completing an assessment block; which can be done during any class period. Interim data will not be collected or stored by the NH DOE as interim assessments are designed for school use.

The successfully negotiated AIR contract began upon Governor and Executive Council approval on September 13, 2017. Additional information including the RFP, score summaries, and assessment highlights can be found on the NH DOE web page at

2018 Statewide Assessment System at a Glance
Assessment Grade
NH Statewide Assessment for ELA (with writing component) and Mathematics Grades 3-8
NH Statewide Assessment for Science Grades 5, 8, and 11
College Board School Day SAT for ERW and Mathematics Grade 11

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