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Charter school tops list for test scores; Sidney Gutierrez well above state averages for math, reading proficiencies

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Parents and students listen during a February 2017 lottery at the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art during which incoming students are selected to attend Sidney Gutierrez Middle School. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The city’s only public charter school remains the top achiever in the Roswell Independent School District in terms of standardized test scores.

(Submitted Graphic)

Sidney Gutierrez Middle School recorded the highest percentage of students testing proficient in both math and English Language Arts, or reading, on the 2016-17 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC) test.
According to data provided by a New Mexico Public Education Department officials, 73.8 percent received either a 4 or 5 on the math portion of the PARCC test, which makes them proficient according to current state standards.
Results on the English Language Arts, or reading, portion indicate that 61.6 percent tested proficient.
The statewide proficiency scores for 2017 are 28.6 percent in English Language Arts and 19.7 percent in math.
Chartered by the local school district in 2001 but operated and governed independently, Sidney Gutierrez historically has turned in high student test scores and received A’s for school grades.
“A lot of people think that we pick and choose our students, but these are public school kids,” said Governing Council member Bill Wolf. “I think the difference is our staff.”
Students must apply to attend the school, with open spots filled by random lottery, although preference is given to eligible siblings of current students, as required by state regulations. Enrollment is typically limited to 66 students for grades 6 through 8, which means class sizes are small.

For the 2015-16 academic year, proficiency rates for the middle school were 55 percent for reading and 69 percent for math. For the 2014-15 year, the proficiency rates were 56.5 percent for reading and 58.1 percent for math.
Data available to the public can differ from that available to educators, according to state education department staff, because results are omitted or given in ranges to protect student privacy when few students exist in any one category.
The other Roswell public schools in the top five in terms of math proficiency are Del Norte with 53.3 percent, Valley View with 37 percent, Berrendo Elementary with 36.4 percent and Military Heights Elementary with 34 percent.
The local public schools rounding out the top four for English Language Arts proficiency are Del Norte, 48 percent; Valley View, 41 percent; Early College High School, 35.8 percent; and Military Heights, 34 percent.
Principal Porter Cutrell of Early College High School said the results seen by his students can be attributed to teamwork among parents, students, teachers, local businesses and the school’s higher education partner, Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell.
“Our school’s performance on the PARCC tests is a result of many factors all working together to provide a rigorous and relevant learning environment,” he said. “The line between high school and college is getting blurrier by the day as we work together to prepare our students for the 21st century.”
PARCC and other test data is posted on the Assessment and Accountability section of the Public Education Department website, ped.state.nm.us.
Senior writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.