Opinion: Adopting the right 306 Rules

By LAURA VINCENT

Published: 04-19-2024 6:00 AM

Laura Vincent lives in Loudon.

The debate over the adoption of updated 306 rules (minimum standards for public education) rages on. After multiple hearings for public comment, Commissioner Edelblut and the State Board of Education still appear to not have heard or understood what the overwhelming majority of people are trying to tell them.

The public education process can be described as input being put into the system in the form of facilities, instructors, and materials for learning. This results in outcomes exiting the system in the form of students demonstrating mastery of competencies needed to attend college, enter careers, and otherwise function as responsible citizens.

It is important that the competencies students show they have mastered cover the broad range of knowledge and skills students will need after they graduate from high school. This includes core skills in English /language arts, math, social studies, science, health and physical fitness as well as skills in art, music, technology, and other areas of student interest. These competencies should be clearly defined, require sufficient rigor and be clearly demonstrable by multiple methods (oral presentations, written presentations, project development, specific demonstrations of skills, not just by paper and pencil tests). The competencies students show proficiency in will vary by age and developmental levels.

However, the outcomes of our public educational system are dependent on the input entering the system. Some input is beyond the educational system’s control, such as the socioeconomic status of students’ families and the degree to which these families are meeting the students’ basic needs. There are areas the schools can control such as providing adequate physical facilities conducive to learning, hiring and retaining dedicated well-trained teachers qualified for the ages of the students and the content areas in which they teach, maintaining class sizes optimal for student learning, and providing quality materials to teach students well-defined competencies critical for their future success.

In adopting updated 306 rules that will help maintain quality public education, it is important that competencies are clearly defined and of sufficient rigor in each subject area. If only minimal competencies are required in only basic subjects and input is loosely defined with few or no limits on class sizes and teacher credentials, our education system will fail.

This type of system, which is what the rule changes proposed by Commissioner Edelblut would bring, will cost New Hampshire far less money now but cause irreparable damage in the long run.

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