January 14, 2005
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Jennifer Chavez
Public Information Officer
(505) 476-0393

Sixty-Six Percent of 10th Grade Students
Pass High School Competency Examination

(Santa Fe, NM) The Public Education Department (PED) announced today that 66 percent of 10th-grade public high school students passed the standardized English administration of the New Mexico High School Competency Examination in 2004. This compares to 69 percent who passed the test last year. For students taking the Spanish version, only seven percent (21 of 297 students) passed in 2004.

The examination is administered to students for the first time in 10th grade to assess competencies in the content areas of reading, language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and writing composition. Students must pass all six subtests to receive a diploma. The examination is not used to determine school ratings and Adequate Yearly Progress, which measures progress from year to year.

“These results speak to New Mexico’s achievement gap, and what a large gap it is between Spanish and English speakers. If we do not close this gap, and bring all students to proficiency in the core academic areas, we risk a new type of segregation. Earning a high school diploma is an extremely important accomplishment for all members of society. We cannot deny even one student the opportunity of reaching this critical milestone,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. García.

Of the 18,965 10th grade students attempting all six subtests in English, 66% passed all six subtests. 81.4 % of Anglos passed the test, followed by 76.9% of Asians, 58.3 % of African Americans, 57.9 % of Hispanics and 49.5 % of Native Americans.

Special education students performed below non-special education students in all five content areas, for a total passing percentage of 23.7 % of special education test-takers. Economically challenged students had a total passing percentage of 48.6 %, compared to 68.7 % for non-economically challenged students.

Sophomores who fail any part of the examination have another chance in their junior year and two chances in their senior year to successfully complete the examination before graduation. Seniors who do not pass the examination, but fulfill the other course and credit requirements, can exit with a certificate of completion or return within five years to retake the examination, pass it and receive a diploma.

Fifty-eight percent (805 of 1,395 students) of 11th-grade and 61% (116 of 191 students) of 12th-grade students passed the English standardized exam in February 2004. Nineteen percent (13 of 68 students) of 11th-grade and 11% (one of nine students) of 12th-grade students passed the Spanish standardized exam.