The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

School officials concerned about graduation proposal


Local school administrators are concerned about a New Mexico Public Education Department proposal that would limit alternative graduation methods for students who do not pass competency exams.

Failing students who want to graduate would be required to follow a two-step process that includes options ranging from an internship to receiving an industry-recognized certificate or completing college-level classes.

School officials in eastern New Mexico say they would rather set alternative graduation guidelines themselves.

“I still believe ... that it ought to be a local decision, a board decision, on what constitutes an alternative display of competency and something that’s satisfactory for graduation requirements,” Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Jody Balch said.

Portales Superintendent Johnnie Cain echoed those sentiments.

“We feel like some of these things are better left to the communities and to the school boards in the communities to determine what is right for their kids and what they feel like is competent to graduate from our high school,” Cain said.

Texico Superintendent Robert Brown said he does see the need for some consistency across the state, but he doesn’t want the decision to be completely taken out of the districts’ hands.

“The needs of students here in Texico versus those in Gallup are a whole lot different and I hope there will be enough leeway in those competencies that allows students to still be successful,” Brown said.

Floyd Municipal Schools Superintendent Damon Terry said he was more worried about the timing of proposal rather than the proposed change itself.

“I’m concerned of any changes that are taking place in the last semester of the governor’s office because I’m afraid things will be changed when a new governor is elected and we’ll have another set of rules,” Terry said.

“We all need general parameters so if a kid graduates from Floyd or Clovis we can compare kids, but when we push down too many regulations it could be concerning.”

The PED has argued that the rule is necessary in order to standardize the requirements to earn a high school diploma statewide.

“A diploma should mean the same thing across New Mexico,” State Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski said, according to an Associated Press story last month.

PED officials on Wednesday did not respond to questions. Balch said he wasn’t sure when the proposal could go into effect.


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