SANTA FE, N.M. — A new computer-based program used in public schools statewide to assess the literacy skills of children in grades K-3 may decrease the amount of time spent on exams.

The state Public Education Department recently announced that all 89 school districts will use the new Istation program, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported (

Administrators say that, at $600,000 per year, the program costs significantly less than the longtime DIBELS program, which costs $1.3 million more each year and has been criticized for taking up too much time in the classroom.

Teachers have until mid-October to administer the tests.

However, some educators say they are worried they won’t have sufficient prep time for the switch.

“We wanted to assure that there is as smooth of a transition as possible, so the original testing window of 15 instructional days is now 40 instructional days,” said Christopher Ruszkowski, deputy secretary of policies and programs for the state Public Education Department.

American Federation of Teachers-New Mexico president Stephanie Ly says extra time to begin testing “doesn’t help the situation. What would help is if we didn’t over test our kids. The fact is we don’t support additional testing.”

Evelyn Quintana, who teaches third grade in Santa Fe at Carlos Gilbert Elementary School, says her students finished assessments on Istation faster than on the DIBELS program.

“My students took it and said it was fun,” she said. “Some of them asked if they could take it again. Isn’t that neat?”

Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican,