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LHS removed from struggling schools list

May 19, 2010
LITTLETON—In as surprise move, the New Hampshire Department of Education has removed Littleton High School from the so-called Struggling Schools list.

The decision was a result of the state's automatic updating of standardized testing data as it prepares for the second round of applications for the Federal "Race to Top" initiative. This new data, which included LHS's 2009 NECAP test results made the difference.

The previous determination, which surprised Littleton school officials by naming them one of the state's worst schools, was based upon NECAP test results from 2007 and 2008, years in which Littleton fared poorly on the exams, but not the 2009 results, which LHS performed very well on. With the 2009 test results factored in, LHS's standing rose substantially.

Littleton State Rep. Brien Ward, who serves on the House Education Committee, along with Executive Councilor Ray Burton, had been pressing the state to take a broader view of LHS test results. Ward argued that the data was scant and dated, including only two of the last nine years and not the most recent test. Ward was pleased with the decision, "We were not a persistently failing school," he said.

Stephanie Lafreniere, the Title 1 State Director of the state Department of Education (DOE) said "Round two (of the Race to the Top application process) included more data and scores across three years. In looking at that, Littleton (High School) went up." None of the other schools on the list of the dozen worst performing schools changed, but Littleton's removal did create a vacancy that was filled by Hillsboro-Deering High School.

"Struggling Schools" is a Federal initiative aimed to direct grant money to a dozen of the state's consistently low performing schools based upon standardized math and reading test results. To get the money schools needed to make major changes, which could include removing teachers and the principal. A few months ago, Littleton decided to forego the money and institute its own initiatives to improve test scores.

The news was accepted cautiously by Superintendent Tommy Stephens. "I don't feel like (the) Struggling Schools (process) was a fair assessment, but we are not at all happy where we are." He added, "The only positive thing is that it brought everyone's attention to the (need) to do better."

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