306 Rules: 2 public hearings set for draft proposal of state minimum public school standards

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First hearing is April 3 with a continuation on April 11.

NH Department of Education building in Concord. File Photo

CONCORD, NH — A pair of public hearings have been scheduled to review a proposal to amend rules governing the Minimum Standards for Public Schools Approval, which outlines  regulatory requirements that all public school districts and public academies must comply with, also referred to as the 306 Rules.

As part of this process, public input and feedback from educators, parents and community members is being sought by the State Board of Education on the proposal. A public hearing on the first half (ED 306.01-306.25) will be held from 1-4:30 p.m. on April 3 at 25 Hall St. in  Concord.

A second public hearing continuing on the first half, plus incorporating the second half  (ED 306.31-306.46), will take place at 1 p.m. on April 11 at 25 Hall St. in Concord.  

“We are looking forward to hearing from constituents about this proposal and progressing with the rule-making process. Substantial work with the National Education Association – New  Hampshire (NEA-NH), the New Hampshire School Administrators Association (NHSAA) and  other groups has been ongoing to develop recommendations that will be considered by the State  Board of Education,” said Frank Edelblut, education commissioner.

“This ED 306 draft will support rules that reflect a system of learning that we aspire to for our children, and create more opportunities and local control. New Hampshire can continue to build on its legacy of a 21st-century learning system, which requires moving past an industrial style, cookie-cutter  educational system and recognizing that all students are individual learners with different  pathways toward success.” 

Previously, the New Hampshire Department of Education engaged the National Center for Competency-Based Learning (NCCBL) to lead a team in developing a draft to be brought back to the State Board of Education for review. For the past three years, this group has been working to amend and revise a rule draft. To date, there has been input from a record number of professional organizations, including teachers, school boards, school administrators, special educators,  principals and more. Dozens of listening sessions have been held throughout the past year to gather feedback from around the state. 

“The proposed draft for the new minimum standards for public schools are a welcome continuation of the cutting-edge work New Hampshire is doing to provide a truly competency-based education for all young learners,” said Elizabeth Cardine, lead teacher at Making Community Connections Public Charter School. “We here at the Making Community  Connections Charter School have developed, promoted and prototyped competency-based  learning for almost 20 years (originally as part of the Monadnock Community Connections 

Charter School) and while the work is challenging, it is certainly beneficial to our diverse learning population. During and post-COVID, schools have had to adapt to more personalized  and creative approaches to recognizing and rewarding learning, and these regulations will help  all educators prepare our graduates to be informed, active and empowered citizens.” 

The State Board of Education approved initial proposals of the minimum standards at its  February meeting. Since then, work has continued with NEA-NH, NHSAA and NCCBL, and this draft reflects changes that will be presented to the State Board of Education for its consideration. While Drew Cline, chairman of the State Board of Education, participated in the discussions around these changes, he alone does not speak for the board.

You can watch a livestream of the hearing via Reaching Higher NH on Youtube.

RELATED STORY –> NH Department of Ed moves forward with its own revisions of state minimum education standards

306 Rules: Background

The following was provided by NEA-NH

What are the 306 Rules?
In addition to state laws, the 306 Rules articulate what New Hampshire public schools must do to be an approved school. These minimum standards for public education exist to ensure that no matter where a student lives, they receive consistent access to quality education.

What is the 306 Rule revision process to date?
The 306 Rule revision process began with a contract between the NH Department of Education and the National Center for Competency-Based Learning, which was approved by the Executive Council in November of 2020 and extended in June of 2021 and then again in May of 2023. A nine-member task force was established by NCCBL President Fred Bramante in 2021 to draft the revisions to the standards, which the group submitted that summer. On May 16, 2022, NHED published a red-lined version of the 306 Rules. On December 8, 2022, a coalition of public education advocates released a letter demanding transparency in the 306 Rules revision process.

In March 2023, NHED released an initial proposal to the State Board of Education.
Listening sessions began in May of 2023. Independently organized educator feedback sessions began in October 2023, organized by Christine Downing, director of curriculum and instruction in SAUs 32 (Plainfield), 75 (Grantham), and 100 (Cornish). Downing released a report in the fall of 2023 that critiqued NHED’s proposal and provided a better path forward. In 2024, NEA-New Hampshire helped construct a 306 Rule revision proposal that was submitted to the State Board of Education. Unfortunately, on February 15, 2024, the State Board of Education moved forward with a separate NHED proposal. The public hearing on Wednesday, April 3 is being held on that version. (See the draft below).

Since February, NEA-NH has taken every available opportunity to share our organization’s concerns about the draft proposal. We have been told that another NHED proposal will be put forward on April 3. While some key changes have purportedly been made, the draft in totality is still concerning and would have a negative impact on public education in New Hampshire.

Additionally, since February, Downing has held a second series of educator feedback sessions and is expected to deliver her report at the second 306 Rules public hearing on April 11.