NH Public Policy
New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies

Manchester's Education Benchmarks

Executive Summary

Date: September 23rd, 2014

This report offers a comprehensive assessment of long-term trends in the public school system of the state’s largest, most diverse community.

"Manchester's Education Benchmarks: Using Data to Map a Path to Success" combines multiple data sources to examine the various factors shaping the Manchester School District over the past decade: shifts in demographics, trends in student achievement, changes in district finances, and many other measures. The work provides a detailed, data-rich resource for district leaders and others looking to understand the challenges and opportunities facing Manchester’s schools and students in a time of widespread policy reform.

The goals of the work are two-fold: to help district leaders identify the most critical areas of need in Manchester’s public schools; and to engage outside parties – including city businesses, non-profits, higher education leaders, health care providers and others – to collaborate in discussions about how to set goals and measure progress in Manchester’s schools.

The report includes data on traditional education measures, such as test scores and graduation rates, but also takes a broader look at the various forces that influence student success. This includes citywide demographic trends, socio-economic data, district finances, and post-secondary student outcomes. While much of this information has been publicly available before, this report assembles it in a single place, helping policymakers and others to see the relationships among these trends as they shape Manchester’s education landscape.

Among the report's major findings:

  • Disparities in student success persist at many levels, and few show signs of closing. These “achievement gaps” exist along racial/ethnic subgroups, economic status and student disability status.
  • In many measures of high school student achievement, the gaps against the state as a whole are widening.
  • Citywide per-pupil property valuation has fallen since the recession at a faster rate than for New Hampshire as a whole, meaning Manchester’s ability to raise money for its schools is not keeping pace with the rest of the state.
  • Demographic changes in the district, including rising numbers of low-income students, will likely put increasing pressure on the city’s schools.

With so many new initiatives in Manchester’s schools – including the Common Core, new district assessments, and efforts to expand science and engineering offerings – measuring district and student achievement is more important than ever before. Taken as a whole, the data in this report serves as a series of baseline measures that can be updated and will let district leaders track progress in a clear manner.