in New Mexico
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786
Fax: (505) 827-6520
February 6, 2002
SBE News Conference Honoring Schools
In School Improvement
(Text of News Conference)
MICHAEL DAVIS, State Superintendent of Public Instruction (WELCOME:
I want to open today's announcements with brief introductions.
Joining us are:
· State Board of Education President Flora Sánchez
· State Board members
· State Representatives
· State Senators
· Staff and students from Coronado High, Jemez Valley Elementary,
Salazar Elementary and West Las Vegas High.
It is a particular honor to gather today on Public Schools' Day
at the Capitol! It is a further pleasure and honor to be joined
by the movers and shakers who have set a high bar for student and
school performance. Because of their vision, we are implementing
an accountability program that is reasonable, accurate and equitable
for the state's students and schools.
The goal of the program has been to raise the level of learning
for all children in New Mexico, and as we have witnessed through
the schools gathered here, we are meeting with success.
I now invite President Sánchez to open this special ceremony
in recognition of the Coronado High, Jemez Valley Elementary, Salazar
Elementary and West Las Vegas High.
FLORA SANCHEZ (CEREMONY HONORING SCHOOLS: 10 min.)
Helping students, schools and school districts to improve is the
ultimate goal of the Accountability Program. Rating schools is not
easy. Simply put, the program is public education stepping up to
its responsibility to all children.
Today is a celebration of educators who wake up every day committed
to helping students improve, and four school communities in particular.
The educators at these schools have taken seriously our challenge
to step up to their responsibility to children. They have taken
steps to ensure that the data they provide accurately reflect their
schools' progress and student growth and they have implemented teaching
strategies tied directly to student needs.
Today, because of their outstanding efforts, they are no longer
on school improvement. They have improved their ratings for two
years despite being among those schools facing the greatest needs
and opportunities for improvement in our state.
Today we congratulate:
· Coronado High School, with the Jemez Mountain Public Schools
· Jemez Valley Elementary, with the Jemez Valley Municipal
Schools in Jemez Pueblo
· Salazar Elementary, with the Santa Fe Public Schools in
Santa Fe and
· West Las Vegas High School, with the West Las Vegas Public
Schools in Las Vegas.
Their journey to improve school and student performance is notable
both in their efforts and the results achieved.
I first invite representatives from Salazar Elementary forward
to receive our congratulations. (Pause for representatives to step
· At Salazar, the school implemented a school-wide literacy
program and involved the community at-large in working one-on-one
with students every day. With grant funding, the school is providing
tutoring in reading for students in danger of not meeting standards.
The 6th grade received exemplary points in three out of the five
subjects - mathematics, reading and science - and in all its growth
data. And growth in four of the five areas in 5th grade was also
Now, I invite representatives of Jemez Valley Elementary to step
· At Jemez Valley Elementary School, the school increased
its focus on reading, writing and mathematics instruction, including
professional development. The school instituted a family reading
night as part of its school-wide focus on literacy and instituted
phonics instruction at grades K through 4. Teachers were provided
with training in the knowledge of the reading process and developmental
stages of children.
Now, I invite representatives of Coronado High to step forward.
· Coronado High launched an after-school tutoring program
partially funded by a School Improvement Grant and placed a stronger
emphasis on academic achievement. Coronado has a unique story. The
school was identified for improvement in 1999. Last year, it met
standards and this year it exceeds standards. The school principal
received tremendous support from the district's superintendent and
school board and the full commitment of the teaching staff in making
And finally, I invite representatives of West Las Vegas High School
to step forward.
· West Las Vegas High School was the first high school west
of the Mississippi to adopt the Yale School Development Program
aimed at systemic change. Parent and community involvement increased,
with emphasis on supporting students' social, personal and academic
needs. In 2000, the school received a high-improving incentive award
and for each of the last two years the school has had exemplary
attendance. And in 2001, the school went from probationary to exceeds
standards in dropout.
At each of these schools, strong leadership has been a key guiding
factor. These schools, and their leaders, serve as models for continuous
Overall in New Mexico, more students are in school, families are
engaged in their children's educations and school communities are
ensuring that children attend school in environments that are safe,
secure and supportive.
And, with improved student attendance and dropout rates, safety
and parent and community involvement come better achievement and
student outcomes. All of this bodes well for the future of public
education in New Mexico!
Over the past year, the Department of Education has directed its
resources to schools with the greatest needs, sacrificing, in some
cases, the work traditionally undertaken by staff.
· Our school improvement staff has worked with the schools
and school districts to effect change. Our approached has been student-centered.
· We have helped schools to identify barriers to school
improvement. Staff has helped in analyzing data on school and student
performance in order to identify goals and objectives. Our review
of teaching and learning, student achievement data and related factors,
teacher preparedness, parent and community involvement, leadership
and management organization and school climate has provided a framework
for success for schools needing to improve.
· And, we have worked with schools to target professional
development needs. Critical questions have been asked. For example,
we assume that teachers who go through four-year training programs
are all knowing. But are they experienced in working with the individual
issues in their classrooms?
We're committed to continuing this approach to school improvement
and hope to report more success stories each year.
Thank you Salazar Elementary, Jemez Valley Elementary, Coronado
High and West Las Vegas High for all you do to improve student outcomes
and for your success stories.
FLORA SANCHEZ (Statement on Public School Governance: 10 min.)
And now for the second part of our announcement. We cannot celebrate
public schools in New Mexico without speaking of the system of public
school governance that has long provided children with a vision
for the future.
There are six proposed joint resolutions pending before the Legislature
to change the state's system of public school governance