Published: 5:41 pm, Fri. Aug. 19th, 2016Updated: 5:39 pm
New Mexico student tests scores are up across the state, but less than a third of students remain proficient or better in reading and math, according to results released Thursday.
The new numbers show around 20 percent of students tested this spring are proficient or better in math and about 28 percent are proficient or better in reading. Both results are slight improvements from the 2014-15 school year when officials first gave assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
The tests, administered by New Mexico and 10 other states, are designed to show how well schools helped students from grades 3 to 11 meet Common Core standards. State data show all grades tested except third saw small increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient or better in reading. All grades except 11th saw an increase in the percentage testing proficient in math, the results said.
Albuquerque Public Schools, the state’s largest school district, had decreases in some categories. For example, only around 21 percent of the district’s third-graders scored proficient or better in reading. That’s a 10 point decline from the previous year.
Meanwhile, smaller districts like the predominantly-Latino student Gadsden Independent Schools near the U.S.Mexico border saw jumps in some categories. Around 4 percent more 11th graders there tested proficient or better in reading, the result showed. In total, about 43.6 percent tested proficient or better.
New Mexico Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said the state still “has a long way to go” but praised schools for improvements in almost every category just a year after the rigorous exam was introduced.
“I’m excited and I’m encouraged, but it is important to remember we have a lot of work to do,” Skandera said.
With the data, Skandera said state and district officials can identify schools where leaders and teachers can seek resources to help increase test scores. She cited a principal mentoring program that is showing results with schools that have had “D’’ or ”F’’ letter grades.
But American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly said Skandera was merely celebrating low scores “as a sign of progress” for reforms backed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
“Despite small increases, the fact remains that across the board, New Mexico students are not proficient, according to PARCC,” said Ly, a critic of Skandera.
She called it “sad” that PARCC remains connected to graduation and retention decisions. State officials are scheduled to release school grades in the coming weeks.