- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Small New Mexico school districts with large Native American populations have some of the lowest percentages of students testing proficient or better on new standardized tests, according to a review of state data by The Associated Press.

Some districts saw no students score proficient or higher in certain grades on subject exams.

For example, the Public Education Department data showed Dulce Independent Schools had no students score proficient or better in fourth-grade reading or in fourth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade math. The district serves students from the Jicarilla Apache Reservation.

Jemez Valley Public Schools, which serves students from Jemez Pueblo, had no fifth-graders test proficient or better in reading or math.

In addition, no third- or fourth-graders in the Cuba Independent School District - which includes some Navajo communities - met or exceeded expectations in math.

Administrators from those districts did not return email and phone messages seeking comment.

The achievement gap among Native American students has generated attention nationally and the White House has launched an initiative involving the issue.

School districts in New Mexico with sizable Native American populations weren’t the only ones to see few or no students score proficiently in the last round of testing.

Only about a quarter of New Mexico students statewide in grades 3 to 8 met or exceeded proficiency benchmarks for reading and writing on standardized tests given last year to measure rigorous Common Core standards.

Less than 10 percent of the state’s 8th graders met expectations or better in math.

Public Education Department spokesman Robert McEntyre said the agency is still reviewing the results and didn’t want to comment yet on the scores of individual districts.

Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera had warned the public that scores could be lower than previously years because the exam was a more “honest” assessment of what students are learning.

She said the results should be used by educators to assess where students need help.

It marked the first time students in New Mexico and 10 other states took the assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

The tests are designed to show how well schools helped students meet Common Core standards - a move that generated opposition from students, teachers and parents.

Deming Public Schools, which is located along the U.S.-Mexico border and serves mainly Latino children, saw none of its 163 students who took the eighth-grade math test score proficient or higher.

Less than one percent of the 500 or so Santa Fe Public School students who took the eighth-grade math exam met expectations, according to the state data.

Nearly a fourth of eighth-graders tested took the Algebra I, II and Geometry assessment for higher math classes. Public Education officials believe if those same eighth-graders had taken the lower-level math exam, the proficiency rate would have been higher statewide.


Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at https://twitter.com/russcontreras.

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