By BETTY PATTERSON
President NEA-New Mexico
The Public Education Department’s release of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) scores is a positive sign. However, the continued use of these scores for high stakes decisions is still just as misguided as it ever was. Movement in the right direction is an indication that New Mexico’s educators and students are working hard.
Students are at the heart of all we do at NEA-New Mexico, so we appreciate the 30,000 foot view of New Mexico’s education system which the PARCC does provide. The PARCC does not pinpoint individual achievement or teacher impact on student achievement. Continued use of one standardized score to punish and stigmatize individual schools and teachers is very poor public policy. Continued reliance on individual student scores for high stakes decisions such as high school graduation is a misuse that harms individual students!
Factors beyond the control of teachers, students, and schools have much to do with the overall scores on standardized tests. While it’s true that teachers are the most important school-related factor in student wellbeing, all school factors are outweighed by issues outside the control of schools such as student health, family structure, and poverty.
The PARCC scores are rightly seen more as an evaluation of the system than of individual students, educators, schools or districts. Students in our New Mexico school system have the highest child poverty rate in the country. Ours is a system with one of the most diverse student populations in the country. This is the central explanation of why a resource starved system can’t compete with most of the rest of the country!
In real inflation adjusted dollars New Mexico is funding public schools at 10.8 percent less per pupil than in 2008! Potential cuts to public education as a solution to our state’s budget problems will further hurt New Mexico students, and should be off the table.