Thousands of New Mexico students would be better prepared to graduate high school and enter college under a proposal announced by Governor Susana Martinez on Wednesday. As part of the Governor's budget recommendations for the 2012 regular legislative session, this proposal would add an additional $4.2 million dollars to fund increased access to advanced placement (AP) programs, PSAT exams for every New Mexico 11th grader, and short-cycle assessments throughout elementary, middle, and high school to monitor student progress and preparedness for college.
"Today's students are tomorrow's workforce. When they graduate high school, New Mexico students deserve every advantage to make sure they are successful in college," said Governor Martinez. "When our students earn their diploma, they expect to have all the skills they need for college. These reforms will help us deliver on that promise."
As part of the proposal, $2.5 million dollars would go to provide statewide short-cycle assessments for over 180,000 students from 4th through 10th grade. These assessments inform teachers and students about significant gaps in understanding throughout the school year, allowing timely adjustments to instruction while learning is occurring. Some districts in New Mexico already utilize these assessments but there is no statewide standard. This proposal would provide teachers with a clear understanding of student learning, even if that student moves from one area of the state to another.
"These assessments mean our teachers would be able to understand quickly where our students need help and how to adjust instruction before a small deficiency becomes a life long struggle," said Public Education Department Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera.
The proposal also calls for $700,000 to support AP programs across New Mexico and will allow school districts to pay all or a portion of AP test fees for eligible low-income students. In addition, the additional funding will allow 10th grade students to take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) test for free.
"These are the tools that will not only help our students attend college, but also make sure they have the best opportunity to graduate," said Higher Education Department Secretary Jose Garcia. "More students earning college degrees mean more jobs, more opportunity and a brighter future for our state."
The final part of the Governor's proposal calls for $1 million dollars to purchase books and instructional materials for students enrolled in dual credit programs. These programs allow students to earn both high school and college credit at the same time.
These additional dollars will be part of the Governor's budget proposal to the Legislature. In some cases, school districts are funding these important programs already. Passing the Governor's proposal would free up those dollars for districts to use in other critical areas.