Federal funds to boost local at-risk students

October 13, 2018

Two schools in Santa Fe and two in Taos will receive funding for at-risk students from an additional $7.7 million from the federally funded Direct Student Services initiative, New Mexico Public Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski announced Friday.

Santa Fe Public Schools received $215,319 for Salazar Elementary and El Camino Real Academy community school and Taos Municipal Schools was awarded $562,147 for Ranchos Elementary and Taos High.

“That’s good news, we could all use more money for school improvement,” said Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica Garcia.

At Salazar, the funds will be used to provide extended learning time and personalized instruction with two hours of tutoring three times a week for students who need help in English proficiency, said education department assistant secretary Jane Henzerling. At El Camino the money will go toward helping students needing additional instruction in reading and math proficiency.

The schools in Taos were noted for “an innovative program that provides data-driven, personalized pathways for students to accelerate learning in mathematics,” known as the Teach to One curricular approach.

Through that funding students “will receive targeted instruction to improve math and literacy outcomes, high-quality tutoring with high-performing teachers, and, in some cases, transportation for students in rural areas to access extended-day learning,” Ruszkowski said in a statement.

The state is the first nationwide to fully implement the Direct Student Services initiative as part of its Every Student Succeeds Act plan.

The education department evaluated applications, which schools statewide were encouraged to submit, and awarded $3.3 million in DSS funding to 36 schools in 18 districts for the 2018-2019 school year.

The remaining $4.4 million will be awarded for the 2019-2020 school year and will support existing DSS programs and “provide the opportunity for new applicants to launch their own targeted programs,” according to the statement.

Federal law requires funding be prioritized based on schools with higher numbers of lower-performing students, according to the education department.

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