Pinkerton Awaits OK on Replacing Smarter Balanced with SATs

Pinkerton Academy may be changing the way it performs standardized testing.

Chris Harper, academic dean for the semi-private Derry high school, announced in the Fall Meeting for Trustees and Sending Towns that, pending state approval, the school will have its juniors take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) instead of the Smarter Balanced test.

Smarter Balanced is replacing the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) as the test on what New Hampshire students have achieved.

Harper said while the state has not yet approved the use of the SATs, the school has set a tentative date for March 2, 2016 for the testing. He said he expects to see about 800 students taking the test simultaneously.

“Some will use it to go on to college, while some are not planning on college,” he said. But either way, the school will be able to collect data from the test as to how well its students are doing, and where they need to improve.

“It is no less useful than Smarter Balanced or NECAP,” Harper said.

Asked who can take it, Harper responded, “If a sophomore or even a freshman wants to take this, they can. But it will be required for all students who have reached junior status.”

Roxanne Wilson, assistant superintendent for the Timberlane and Hampstead districts, asked whether it would be the same SAT all kids have access to.

Harper said it is his understanding that the SAT will be the same one taken by students across the country.

Harper also reported on the uses of the Naviance software, a system juniors and seniors are using to apply to colleges. They currently use Naviance as a central collection point for all their college data, including the Common Application, teacher referrals and other materials.

But Harper said the school is adding other “modules” of Naviance and has recently extended it to freshmen.

Pinkerton’s course catalog of 320 classes has been added to Naviance, Harper said. The freshmen will use the system to begin their career planning.

He reminded the trustees and sending town representatives that Pinkerton requires all students to have a five-year plan extending through high school to the first year after graduation. “We encourage them to find out what they want to do and then work backwards,” Harper said. “The software creates a repository for the plan.”

Through the Guidance Department, students can customize the courses they will need to reach that point. This, Harper said, keeps them from taking a course “because all my friends are taking it.”

But the document is a working document, he added, saying, “You can continue to make changes. If you start out taking welding and decide you don’t like welding, you can explore something else.”

“We want to harness the full power of Naviance,” he said.