August 18, 2005
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Beverly Friedman
Public Information Officer

Education Secretary Shares Statewide Test Results and Shines Light on Student Achievement Gaps

Five Students from four School Districts “Ace” the Math Test for 11 th Graders


SANTA FE - Education Secretary Dr. Veronica C. Garcia today announced the results of the 2004-2005 New Mexico Standards Based Assessment, and outlined a comprehensive approach to use the test data to raise overall student performance and close New Mexico’s Achievement Gap. Today’s announcement of student test results follows last month’s school rankings, which determined whether New Mexico schools are meeting Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind Act.

"These new tests show that New Mexico students are being challenged, and that we must pull out the stops to support our teachers in the classroom in teaching to this higher standard." said Dr. Garcia.  "Many of our children are nearing proficiency, and we need to provide the resources to principals, teachers, parents and school districts so greater strides can be made in the areas of reading, mathematics and science to raise these students to the proficient or advanced levels."

“However, I am encouraged by the results because when we include those students who are nearing proficiency we are close to 80% at the benchmark. This information tells me that we have many students who with just a little more effort will be at proficiency. A recent national poll tells us that students say high school isn’t hard enough. They want more opportunities to take more challenging courses. I firmly believe that if we continue with this increased expectation New Mexico students will rise to the expected standard.”

Secretary Garcia highlighted Project Excel, the School Improvement Framework, and the state’s coordinated interagency effort to ensure that more students will reach proficiency in the core-academic areas. She further stated, “All of state government working together on behalf of New Mexico’s children is one of Governor Richardson’s highest expectations as we make a difference for New Mexico!”

Project Excel

  • Created Secretary of Education’s Advisory Council for Excellence and Equity in Education
  • Targeted district/school technical assistance by NM Public Education Department staff
  • NM Public Education Department provides personalized support to each superintendent
  • Revitalized district and school strategic planning process (EPSS)
  • Aligned state standards for excellence with the new standards-based assessments
  • Focused on second language acquisition and literacy
  • Raised expectations and supports to achieve higher levels of academic achievement
  • Provide targeted Statewide training for teachers in interpretation of test data and best practices in addressing English Language Learners with a focus on reading, mathematics and science.

School Improvement Framework

  • Comprehensive plan which includes diagnosis of schools’ strengths and weaknesses, prescribes a school improvement plan, utilizes more frequent assessment to help teachers adjust instruction
  • Targeted Public Education Department support, monitoring, and sanctions for schools
  • Advanced training to school staffs in utilizing continuous improvement techniques

Inter-Cabinet Agency Collaboration

  • Focus on the whole child: e.g. elementary physical education, junk food out of schools, increased parent involvement, elementary breakfast program, pre-kindergarten to ensure children are ready for kindergarten
  • Combining resources for more efficient use of taxpayer dollars

An additional 125,000 New Mexico students were tested using the new assessment this year, giving educators a more accurate picture of what is needed to improve classroom performance and close the achievement gap. Students in grades 3-9 and 11 were tested in Reading and Mathematics, and students in grades 3-9 were also tested in science.  The Standards Based Test was a new assessment that was aligned to the New Mexico Content Standards, which provide academic focus and direction for instruction. 

The new assessment also provides information about the status of New Mexico’s Achievement Gaps. Students who are in our Bilingual classes or exit our English as a Second Language programs are achieving at the same level or higher than other students. The gap for different ethnic groups narrows when students who are nearing proficiency are included with students at proficiency or advanced. Students in poverty show a large achievement gap. Students with disabilities have the largest achievement gap.

Achievement gap trends are not available due to changes in the required assessments. Likewise the number of students taking the test and the rigor of the test has increased, making comparisons with prior years invalid.

Performance levels on the test are reported in four specific areas: advanced, proficient, nearing proficiency, and beginning step.  In reading, students at or above proficiency range from a high of 57% in grades 5 and 11 to a low of 41% in grade 6, but a large percentage of students scored in the “nearing proficiency” category in nearly all grades. In math, students at or above proficiency ranged from a high of 43% in grade 3 to a low of 20% in grade 7, with a substantial percentage of students at every grade level performing at the nearing proficiency level. In science, students at or above proficiency ranged from a high of 76% at grade 3 to a low of 25% in grade 8, but again a substantial percentage of students at all grade levels performed at the nearing proficiency level.

Five 11 th grade students from four separate New Mexico school districts stand out in this year's results because they received perfect scores on the Math portion of the test.  The students are: Jordan Clark from Carlsbad High School, Yuan Mei and Keith Mosher from Los Alamos High School, Alex Kimber from Alamogordo High School and Christina Elder from Farmington High School.

District and school level data, and parent reports are being reviewed by the districts and will be available in approximately two weeks.