Today, Governor Susana Martinez announced the release of the first official school grades under New Mexico's new School Grading System. This historic announcement marks the first time the state has utilized a school accountability system created specifically for the students of New Mexico.
Over 830 elementary, middle and high schools were measured in several areas of student achievement. As opposed to basing the system on a single test score, these school grades are calculated using at least three years' worth of data whenever possible in areas such as academic growth, attendance, support of both the highest and lowest performing students, and college and career readiness.
New Mexico's School Grading System replaces the AYP federal ratings which, according to estimates, would have labeled nearly 98% of New Mexico's schools as "failing" this year, with little useful information to differentiate between schools based on growth or proficiency. In February, New Mexico became one of the first 11 states in the country to receive a waiver from this federal rating system in order to adopt a state-specific approach that provides better information about student progress and achievement when rating the state's schools.
"These results are not only important to inform parents and students today about where their school stands, but they are helpful for teachers, school leaders, and community stakeholders who want to take action to reform education in New Mexico and improve our schools," said Governor Martinez. "We are measuring progress and growth, and we need to focus more intently than ever on identifying our lowest-performing schools and students so that we can get them the help they need to succeed."
The 2012 results show over 65% of New Mexico Schools either maintained or improved their school grade since the release of preliminary results in January.
The statewide distribution of school grades is as follows:
"If we calculated school rankings using the same federal rules from the past, over 800 schools would be labeled as failing. We know that's not the case," said NMPED Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera. "Instead, we now have access to a broader breakdown of our schools that incorporates growth, proficiency, and other measurements. These grades show us that there is tremendous work to be done to improve education in our state, but they also provide better benchmarks, goals, and information to equip teachers, school leaders, and parents as we work together to improve our kids' opportunities for success."
An examination of school grade results did reveal important trends across the state; among the most noteworthy is the need to focus on our lowest performing students and the importance of closing the achievement gap. For the first time, we have an accurate picture of progress and areas needing improvement in our schools.
In addition to some calculation changes mandated by the federal government in New Mexico's NCLB waiver, a new component to the calculation of official school grades is the inaugural "Opportunity to Learn" (OTL) survey that was completed by over 190,000 New Mexico students. For the first time ever, every student who completed the New Mexico Standards Based
Assessment was administered a survey to measure student satisfaction in the classroom. Many schools fared well on these surveys; however, others experienced a drop in points as a result of students expressing a lack of engagement or understanding of material in the classroom. A sample of the OTL survey, complete with results, will be made public as part of each school's report card.
A complete breakdown of every school grade can be found on the NMPED website at: http://webapp2.ped.state.nm.us/SchoolData/SchoolGrading.aspx. Following the release of the state's preliminary grades earlier this year, the website received more than 300,000 hits, pointing to a significant level of interest and engagement by parents, teachers, school leaders, and community stakeholders in the performance of New Mexico schools.