The 2013 statewide A-F school grading results. Courtesy illustration
Gov. Susana Martinez Announces 2013 A-F School Grades
- High schools show strongest grade improvements, driven by higher graduation rates, increased reading proficiency and greater participation in career/college readiness programs
ALBUQUERQUE – Today, Gov. Susana Martinez announced this year’s letter grades for New Mexico’s 839 elementary, middle, and high schools.
More than 70 percent of New Mexico schools maintained or improved their school grade, with high schools across the state showing the greatest improvement. This is the second official release of school grades since New Mexico instituted the A-F system in 2011.
The 2013 results show that 82 schools earned an A grade, while 224 schools achieved a B grade – an increase of 63 schools collectively over the same categories in 2012. The number of D and F schools decreased from 314 in 2012 to 303 in 2013.
“New Mexico’s new A-F system allows us to identify and invest in schools that are struggling, while providing a much more useful and clearer picture to parents and community members of how each of our state’s schools is performing,” Martinez said. “Most importantly, these grades place critical emphasis on student achievement and growth, instituting a level of accountability in education that has not existed previously in New Mexico.”
School grade improvements or declines were, in many ways, consistent with the results of this year’s Standards Based Assessment (SBA) scores, which were released last month. For example, 87 percent of high schools improved their letter grade, in part due to New Mexico 10th and 11th graders increasing their reading proficiency by 6.3 percentage points and 9.9 percentage points, respectively. In addition, New Mexico high schools saw an increase of 7 percentage points in the state graduation rate last year (rising from 63 percent to 70 percent), and more high school students participated in programs designed to improve their readiness for college or the workforce.
During the 2012-2013 school year, for example, a series of investments in college and career readiness initiatives were implemented, including a commitment by the state to pay for every 10th grader to take the Pre-SAT exam. For 2013, participation in the PLAN assessment increased by nearly 20 percent and the Pre-SAT by more than 11 percent – an increase of more than 7,000 high school students participating in these college readiness opportunities. Utilizing more than $500,000 to expand access to Advanced Placement programs, participation in AP courses also increased by more than 5 percent in a single year.
All of these factors (reading proficiency gains, graduation rates, and participation in career/college readiness programs) contributed to higher high school grades across the state.
Schools that saw their grades slip were predominantly at the elementary level, where even though modest increases in reading proficiency were seen at the critical 3rd grade level, proficiency scores dipped among 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.
During the 2012-2013 school year, $3.5 million was invested in new education reform programs targeted at helping New Mexico’s struggling schools. This included providing intensive training in best practices for turning around struggling schools to over 2,000 educators from schools that had earned a C, D, or F grade. Four million dollars was secured in the budget for the coming school year to expand on efforts to provide targeted support to struggling schools.
“Our challenge is to improve every student’s achievement, every year,” Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said. “We want to see progress across all grades that is sustainable over time – so our students are better prepared for our workforce and life. This goal requires us to increase accountability and invest in targeted reforms that directly help those who are struggling the most.”
The A-F school grading system is the result of legislation passed in the 2011 session establishing a more helpful and understandable way to describe the level of performance of New Mexico schools.
Prior to the A-F system, New Mexico was required to produce “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP) reports on school performance. The AYP measure restricted accountability to a single year and did not account for growth that students made in academic achievement. It became so unhelpful in identifying schools in need of help that, for example, if New Mexico was still reporting AYP in 2013, there would be only 3 schools statewide that would have been deemed to have “passed.”
Every other school would have simply been labeled as “failing,” with little to no data or information to distinguish between these schools or determine areas in need of improvement. In February 2012, the U.S. Department of Education recognized the A-F school grading system as a rigorous measure for accountability and granted New Mexico’s request for a waiver from AYP.
School grade calculations include a number of factors, including college and career readiness measures, student survey results, academic growth of lowest and highest achieving students, and parental involvement.
To view the grade for a particular New Mexico school, including an in-depth report that breaks down each school’s scoring, visit the Public Education Department website at http://ped.state.nm.us/ped/index.html. Since 2012, more than 645,000 parents, community members, students, teachers, and school leaders have accessed this website to review the performance of New Mexico schools.