February 8, 2005
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Jennifer Chavez
Public Information Officer
(505) 476-0393

Secretary Garcia Shares PED Recommendations
For NM Graduation Exam

(Santa Fe, NM)--During the '03-'04 school year, Secretary of Education, Dr. Veronica C. Garcia, initiated a program to expand the 11th grade assessment to include social studies (beginning in 2005-2006) and science (beginning in 2006-2007). The intent of this expansion is that, with proper evaluation and prior notice to parents and students, the 11th grade assessment would replace the current High School Competency Exam as the state's high school exit exam. Secretary Garcia's Assessment and Accountability Council, since May, of 2004 has been exploring how best to implement the revised 11th grade assessment as an exit exam.

The national standards movement and NCLB have led several states to re-examine the rigor and adequacy of their graduation assessments. The 11th grade assessment (the New Mexico High School Standards Assessment) fully complies with the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) for high-quality, standards-based achievements assessments.

“I believe that raising the bar for New Mexico’s students will be a pivotal part of our success in reforming our public schools. On my direction, the assessment already has been revamped once to be more comprehensive in Reading and Math content standards. We will continue to increase the rigor of this test by adding science this year and social studies next year, ” said Secretary Veronica C. García.

The experience of other states clearly shows the critical importance of providing adequate notice before a statewide exam is used to determine whether or not a student graduates from high school. Adequate notice means that students must be provided sufficient opportunity to learn the standards that are measured by the assessment before they are required to pass the test. In addition, the assessment needs to have been in place for a sufficient period of time before it is used to determine whether or not a student receives a diploma. Other states that have attempted to move too quickly have been forced to delay the application of such high-stakes consequences due to public outcry and the threat of legal action.

“While we agree with the concept of increasing the rigor of the NM High School Competency Exam, Senator Boitano’s proposed legislation must address giving adequate notice to parents, students, and teachers,” said Secretary of Education, Dr. Veronica C. García.