ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Many high schools in New Mexico’s four largest cities continue to struggle with upper-level math and reading tests, according to new results released this week.
An analysis by The Associated Press of test score data showed a majority of high school students in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe combined didn’t score proficient or better in math and reading in 2017.
While some high schools in the four cities have proficiency rates above the state average, others have meager rates.
At Highland High School in Albuquerque, for example, only 20 percent of 11th graders tested proficient in reading. About 33 percent of students in the same grade tested proficient or better in reading at West Mesa High School on Albuquerque’s Westside.
Rio Rancho high schools had some of the best 11th-grade reading scores in the state with nearly 70 percent of 11th graders testing proficient. But around 75 percent still didn’t test proficient in Geometry and Algebra II.
Statewide, 43 percent of 11th graders tested proficient or better in reading. Around 16 percent were proficient in geometry and 15 percent were proficient in Algebra II.
This week, state officials unveiled results from assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. The results showed small gains statewide in reading but a tiny drop in math. Still less than a third of all New Mexico students are proficient.
The tests, administered by New Mexico and other states, are designed to show how well schools helped students from grades 3 to 11 meet Common Core standards.
New Mexico Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski said he was concerned about the test scores in Albuquerque Public Schools, especially since it is the largest district in the state and influences overall state numbers.
Ruszkowski said the school district has not taken up an offer by state officials to help the district’s struggling schools by pairing up teachers and principals from schools with higher test scores. He said state education officials will extend the offer again next month during a scheduled meeting.
“It’s up to the leadership of APS,” Ruszkowski said.
Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Raquel Reedy called the PARCC scores “perplexing.”
“Whether in the unique urban school district of Albuquerque Public Schools or the smaller towns of New Mexico, too many students aren’t testing at levels we want to see,” Reedy said. “We all need to work on improving.”
The PARCC exams have come under criticism from teachers unions since they are used as part of New Mexico’s teacher evaluations.
Betty Patterson, National Education Association New Mexico president, said the tests are based on a narrowly prescribed curriculum and linked to specific grade levels. She said they are not a good way to judge student or teacher success.
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