New Mexico students in grades 4 and 8 show significant increases in achievement from 1998 to 2007 on the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), but the achievement gap stayed constant or did not change significantly, according to the Education Trust’s Education Watch report.
Education Trust issued their report today discussing gaps in education opportunity and achievement that separate low-income students and students of color from others. According to the report, national academic improvement, while real, is far too slow.
New Mexico student achievement results from the 2007 NAEP and the 2007 New Mexico Standards Based Assessment were compared. The report looked at grade 4 overall reading/English language arts performance and grade 8 overall mathematics performance.
Overall in grade 4 reading and grade 8 math, New Mexico students show statistically significant increases in achievement from 1998-2007, while numbers for the actual change in the achievement gap from 1998-2007 stayed constant and were not statistically significant.
“The results highlighted show that New Mexico students are improving,” said New Mexico Secretary of Education Veronica C. García. “We have required teachers to teach to our nationally recognized standards for excellence, targeted professional development, and worked closely with schools to meet the needs of all students. While we are improving, we must continue our efforts to see increased performance for all students.”
The report also looked at five other areas, K-12 funding, access to qualified teachers, high school graduation, college graduation and college representation. New Mexico was among the top third of states because it provides 8% more funding to low-poverty school districts, and for having 92% of Latino or African-American high school graduates in four-year public colleges. But the state falls into the bottom third of states with high school graduation and six year college graduation rates.
The report notes that in the 2003-2004 school year, 25% of New Mexico core academic classes were taught by teachers with neither a major nor certification in the subject taught. As of the 2008-2009 school year, 94% of all core academic classes in New Mexico are taught by highly qualified teachers. These are teachers who are certified in the academic subject they are teaching.
“New Mexico students are demonstrating improved achievement on our state assessment, which we know, parallels NAEP,” said Secretary García. “We are working diligently with our schools in need of improvement to provide students with a quality education. With the active involvement of our Governor and Legislators, we are increasing requirements for teaching math, and increasing the number of instructional days for students.”
Two major education bills from the 2009 Legislature are on the Governor’s desk for signing. HB 322, sponsored by Representative Janice Arnold Jones, requires an additional 3 hours of mathematics for K-8 teachers. HB691, sponsored by Representative Rhonda King, provides that a school year shall consist of at least 180 full instructional days.
The report singles out New Mexico as having the biggest gains for Native American students from 1998-2007. These students increased their NAEP scale score from 180 to 197.
“New Mexico students have not lost any achievement ground over the last nine years as reflected in this report,” said Secretary García. “In order to close the achievement gap, we need to continue rigorous standards and assessment and ensure that highly qualified teachers are teaching core subjects. We are offering professional development for mathematics and science teachers with summer workshops, and schools are providing mandatory mentoring for all new teachers.
“There are concentrated areas of high poverty in the state,” said Secretary Garcia. “These areas, coupled with geographic isolation, create obstacles for accessing high quality education. This is an area that will require rigorous effort on behalf of the districts and the state to improve access. Public education needs to continue funding our Pre-K and K-3+ initiatives. These early school years for students are critical to closing the achievement gap and achieving at higher levels.”
“New Mexico is improving school readiness, increasing parent involvement, providing quality classroom teachers, preparing students in 21st Century classrooms for college and the workforce, and increasing academic rigor and accountability, said Secretary García. “We have been dedicated to the Making Schools Work framework for the past five and a half years, and we see academic progress with all of our students, including low income and students of color. We will stay the course.”
For more information and to download copies of Education Watch, visit www.edtrust.org.