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New Mexico State Department
of Education

300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

PRESS RELEASE

January 7, 2003

Quality Counts 2003 Gives New Mexico Top Rating For Equity of Public School Financing

(Santa Fe, NM)- New Mexico is rated as one of four top states in the country for the equity of its system of financing public education by Quality Counts 2003, an Education Week/Pew Charitable Trusts report on education in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, released today.

New Mexico received a grade of "B" in the area of "Resources: Equity," placing fourth nationally and joining Hawaii, Utah, Delaware and Florida in the top five. This year's rating compares to a grade of "B+" last year, when the state placed third nationally.

"New Mexico remains a national leader in its efforts to close the equity gap. Our support of public education is distributed more evenly and with fewer variations among our student body than other states," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael J. Davis.

The state received a "B" in the area of "Standards and Accountability," placing 15th nationally and joining Connecticut in receiving an overall grade of 85. New Mexico is one of 23 states to include sanctions as part of its state accountability system, one of six to allow for private management of schools and one of 17 to provide rewards to high-performing or improved schools. The state received a "B" last year for standards and accountability.

New Mexico also received a "C-" and is 30th in the country in "Improving Teacher Quality." New Mexico received the same grade last year. Quality Counts 2003 noted that New Mexico is among 16 states requiring and financing teacher induction programs. It is also one of 40 states requiring a basic skills test and one of 34 requiring subject knowledge tests. And New Mexico is one of 26 states to set aside time for professional development and one of 45 to finance professional development.

In the area of "Resources: Adequacy," New Mexico received a "C" for per-pupil expenditures, the same grade as last year. The report noted that New Mexico's average education spending per student, adjusted for regional cost differences, is $7,634, compared to a national average of $7,524.

In the area of "School Climate," New Mexico received a "C" (this area was not graded last year) and is one of only eight states to conduct a survey about school conditions and one of 11 states to require school report cards to include information on parent involvement.

"The building blocks are in place to develop a world-class educational system in New Mexico that ensures excellence and equity for all students. We must be diligent and continue to advance the state's public education system," State Superintendent Davis said.