Less than a third of New Mexico students test proficient
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Less than a third of all New Mexico students are proficient in reading and only about one-fifth are proficient in math, according to results released Friday.
The results from a revamped test in 2019 show that public school districts and charter schools saw a small jump in reading from the year before but a slight drop in math — though the scores are from separate exams.
According to the results, only 32.7% of all New Mexico students tested proficient or better in reading. Meanwhile, just 20.3% tested proficient or better in math.
Last year, results from the test called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, show that around 31 percent of students tested were proficient or better in reading and more than 21 percent were proficient or better in math.
“These (2019) results reinforce the governor’s call for a transformation of the education system in New Mexico,” the state Public Education Department said in a statement.
Yet they come just days after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham abruptly fired Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo, sparking questions from lawmakers and confusion among educators.
Lujan Grisham said in a statement Trujillo was removed from her job after the governor’s expectations were not met in many areas.
Asked if the test scores were the reason Trujillo was fired, Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said no.
Rep. Andrés Romero, D-Albuquerque, said firing the state secretary of education so close to announcement about the test scores the sent “a message of uncertainty.” However, Romero, a high school teacher, said he was confident deputies and other state education officials would keep pushing reforms so that teachers would spend less time on the administering state exams.
Stelnicki said the incoming administration had only 90 days from taking office to administer federally required assessments to students.
But before the assessments began, the Lujan Grisham administration announced it would scrap the PARCC exam for a new test called “New Mexico Standards-Based Transition Assessment of Math and English Language Arts.” Administration officials called it a “transition test” before a more permanent one would be adopted.
“The results are not a representation of this administration’s policy vision or impact on our public education system,” Stelnicki said. “That will take time to be reflected.”
Still, Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, called the scores disconcerting and said state lawmakers have a lot of questions about the Public Education Department early into Lujan Grisham’s term. “I don’t know if it’s natural (this early),” Stewart said.
Stewart said she’s not surprised by the results because educators are still working through what she called a traumatic time under Republican former Gov. Susana Martinez. “Teachers haven’t gotten over the terrible trauma of teacher evaluations and school grades hanging over their heads,” she said.
Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, said she’s not familiar with the transition exam and wonders whether state education officials can measure progress over time.
“I felt optimistic about the (Public Education Department),” Dow said. “But now there’s a lot of anxiety among PED employees.”
Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras