PRESS RELEASE - April 15, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

New Test Findings Show New Mexico Students Proficient In Grade 4 Math and Grade 8 Language Arts

(Santa Fe, NM)--New test findings released today by the Public Education Department (PED) show that over half of all students in mathematics in grades four and language arts in grade eight are proficient or advanced. But other students are beginning or nearing proficiency. The results come from the first administration of the Standards-Based (criterion-referenced) Assessment. The custom-designed test was administered in the spring of 2003.

“This first administration of the criterion-referenced test is extremely significant for New Mexico. The results provide the starting point for our journey to bring students to 100% proficiency in math and language arts. Reaching that goal will be our continuing focus and challenge, and we will get there,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. García.

The test was given to 23,776 fourth-grade and 24,335 eighth-grade students in public, charter and state-supported schools in math and language arts. Students performed at the following levels: advanced, proficient, nearing proficiency or beginning step. The results will be used to determine Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in grades four and eight when the state issues school ratings in August.

Overall, 41% of fourth-grade students and 39% of eighth-grade students are proficient in mathematics, with 12 percent of fourth-grade students and seven percent of eighth-grade students advanced. And 38% of fourth-grade students and 39% of eighth-grade students are proficient in language arts, with seven percent of fourth-grade students and 12% of eighth-grade students advanced.

“One of the greatest commonalities is poverty. In both mathematics and language arts, in the fourth and eighth grades, those students who are economically disadvantaged face the greatest challenges. Things must change in New Mexico. The achievement gap in education must, and will, improve,” said Secretary Dr. García.

The performance levels by ethnicity are as follows:

Language Arts
Grade 4

  Caucasian Black Hispanic Asian American Indian
Advanced 13% 4% 4% 11% 2%
Proficient 51% 35% 34% 50% 22%
Nearing Proficiency 23% 30% 32% 25% 39%
Beginning Step 13% 31% 29% 14% 37%

 

Language Arts
Grade 8

  Caucasian Black Hispanic Asian American Indian
Advanced 22% 9% 7% 25% 4%
Proficient 48% 38% 35% 41% 33%
Nearing Proficiency 19% 28% 30% 24% 35%
Beginning Step 10% 25% 27% 10% 27%

 

Mathematics
Grade 4

  Caucasian Black Hispanic Asian American Indian
Advanced 22% 8% 7% 27% 3%
Proficient 48% 36% 39% 44% 33%
Nearing Proficiency 17% 21% 25% 18% 28%
Beginning Step 13% 34% 29% 11% 36%

 

Mathematics
Grade 8

  Caucasian Black Hispanic Asian American Indian
Advanced 15% 3% 3% 22% 2%
Proficient 51% 32% 33% 49% 27%
Nearing Proficiency 16% 21% 24% 11% 25%
Beginning Step 16% 43% 39% 16% 44%

For economically disadvantaged students, the results are as follows:

Economically Disadvantaged Language Arts
Grade 4
Language Arts
Grade 8
Math
Grade 4
Math
Grade 8
Advanced 4% 6% 6% 3%
Proficient 32% 34% 38% 31%
Nearing Proficiency 33% 32% 25% 23%
Beginning Step 31% 27% 30% 41%

For state wide results click here.

Secretary Dr. García presented an aggressive, 10-point integrated action plan, called Project Excel, to improve the achievement gap and raise expectations and achievement levels. Created under the plan is the Secretary of Education’s Advisory Council for Excellence and Equity in Education to work with districts to address the achievement gap, share best practices and create statewide awareness.

Part of the plan involves aggressive action planning at the PED so that schools are receive the help they need to interpret the data in front of them and adjust their instruction accordingly. “Every child is unique. Education is not one-size-fits-all. Schools need to use testing results to diagnose student strengths and weaknesses. From there, they can develop solutions for improved learning,” she said.

Parents must also become more involved. “Their children are entitled to a quality education and to learn English, reading, language arts and mathematics at the same academic level as other students,” said Secretary Dr. García. “There is no reason for a child to be left behind.”