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

Curry, Roosevelt above state averages


July 31, 2019

Though some schools had struggles, public schools in Curry and Roosevelt counties found themselves above state averages when it came to math and reading proficiency.

The rates are according to spring data released Friday by the New Mexico Department of Public Education.

According to the education agency, 32.7% of New Mexico pupils were deemed “proficient” in English skills. Those students had shown a steady increase in proficiency in each of the last three years, from a 27.6% rate in 2016.

Students were rated at Levels 1-5, with 4 and 5 considered proficient.

This spring, 20.3% of New Mexico students were proficient in math. That dropped from the 21.6% rate the previous year but remained near the 19.9% rate in 2016.

In the Clovis school district this spring, 35% of its students were deemed proficient in reading and 26% in math. Portales, meanwhile was just above both state marks with 22% math proficiency and 37% reading proficiency. In nearly every case for smaller schools — Texico the exception, with 62 percent reading proficiency and 40 percent math proficiency — scores were given a percentage range for one or both categories.

The state’s standards-based Transition Assessment of Math and English Language Arts was given in the spring several months after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order to move away from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test.

Portales Superintendent Johnnie Cain felt it was a mixed bag, and wasn’t sure how much stock to put in the tests because it was a state-created collection of PARCC questions despite the executive order.

Cain said it was tough to point out immediately what did and didn’t work, whether it was the high Valencia scores (approximately 40% in both categories) or Portales High’s low math results (8%, compared to 36% for reading).

“In some areas, we don’t know why,” Cain said on the Portales High math scores, which followed a year of professional development in that area. “We don’t know if it’s foundational. It’s something we’re working on, and I know the teachers are working on it as well.”

Cain said he didn’t want to put outsized focus on how many students made Levels 4-5, and felt it was just as important if some of last year’s Level 1-2 students move to Level 3 — still not proficient but making progress.

Clovis Superintendent Renee Russ said proficiency level ratings were only a starting point to drawing meaningful conclusions for strengths and areas of improvement.

“All of our schools are benefiting from the focus on data driven instruction as part of the 90-day planning process,” Russ said. “Ninety-day plans each semester provide schools a focus on change that can be made quickly, which has resulted in improved instructional and intervention practices.

“Additionally, we have targeted the use of federal funds to specifically support instructional needs of individual schools in math, writing, and guided reading. Because we are focused on growth, we will be looking at progress made for individual students, cohorts of students, and specific subgroups in addition to overall data at grade levels and individual schools.”

Mesa Elementary finished tops among Clovis elementary schools with 48% proficiency in math and 50% proficiency in reading. Russ said the last couple of academic years, Mesa teachers have used their 90-day planning processes to focus on writing across all content areas — which led to score improvements in several areas.

Texico, Melrose and Grady all received some of the area’s highest marks in reading, with Texico around 62%, Melrose between 55% and 63% and Grady between 60% and 69%. Grady (50%-59%) and Texico (40%) were the most proficient in math.

The state’s education agency stated in a news release Friday the spring test reduced testing time by 30 percent while logging results comparable to the previous year’s assessment.

The state’s education agency and Student Success Task Force is slated to submit a full assessment plan to the governor by fall. Spring 2020 math and English assessments at the elementary level “will use the same blueprint as spring 2019, with the addition of custom-developed field test items,” the agency stated.

The governor fired Education Secretary Karen Trujillo a few days before proficiency rates were announced. Lujan Grisham stated Trujillo was removed because the governor’s expectations for education weren’t being met in several areas.


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