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School grades up, down, the same in county; Report cards for Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur show two ‘Bs’, one ‘C,’ five ‘Ds’ and one ‘F’

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Dexter schools have shown growth during the past year, according to state-issued report cards, while schools in Hagerman kept the same grades and all Lake Arthur schools dropped a grade.

Each year the New Mexico Public Education Department provides school report cards as a measure of student progress — determined by performances on standardized assessment tests —and other variables such as results on parent and student surveys. Schools also can earn bonus points for technology use, truancy reduction, family involvement and promotion of extracurricular activities.
This year’s report cards were issued Aug. 22, when an article about Roswell public schools was released. District report cards are expected in about a month.
The report cards for the Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur school districts show two “Bs” (22 percent), one “C” (11 percent), five “Ds” (56 percent) and one “F” (11 percent).
Statewide, 120 public schools received “As” (14 percent); 202 earned “Bs” (24 percent), 206 scored “Cs” (24 percent), 185 got “Ds” (22 percent) and 134 took home “Fs” (16 percent).
New Mexico Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski acknowledged a need for continued improvement in Chaves County districts, especially at the middle-school level, but also said Dexter had two strong points, the elimination of “F “schools and the upgrade of its elementary from a “D” to a “B.”
“All three of these superintendents have a willingness to partner and try to new things,” said Ruszkowski. He added that the school districts probably will benefit in the years ahead by learning from other schools and districts that are high-performing.

Superintendents: More to schools than grades
Hagerman Superintendent Ricky Williams said that the report cards do not give a complete picture of student or school achievement.
“Academic readiness on the PARCC assessment does not provide a complete picture about our students or our staff,” said Williams, referring to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, introduced in New Mexico in 2014.
“Although we value the information that PARCC results provide for us, it does not signify everything that our students are capable of accomplishing academically,” he said. “Not only will we continue to develop all students’ academic knowledge and skills in reading and mathematics, but also in the arts, science, social studies and career technical education.”
Lesa Dodd of Dexter Consolidated Schools said the grading system is not good at judging schools as a whole, but appreciates that the data can provide insight into specific categories of students or instruction.
“When analyzing the school report card, it is important to look beyond the overall grade that is assigned by (the Public Education Department) and look at each individual category of the report card,” she said in a statement. “At Dexter, we are more concerned about individual student progress rather than the school grouped as a whole, and we focus on the teaching and learning that takes place daily in our classrooms rather than a school grade that is based on a snapshot of one day and one test in the academic lives of our students. We do not put a lot of value into the actual school grade due to the fact schools are still not clear on how scores are determined, and there is no way for schools to check the accuracy of the assigned school grade. But we do value what the data from each category can tell us.”

Report cards show growth, steadiness and declines
The report cards showed that Hagerman High School earned a “C” for 2016-17 and 2015-16. Its middle school earned “Ds” both years, while its elementary school earned “Bs.”
Williams pointed out that, beyond the grades, Hagerman schools have made progress during the past four years. For example, the percentage of students testing proficient in math and reading at Hagerman High has increased each year. For math, proficiency went from 2 percent in 2014-15 to 16 percent for 2016-17. For English Language Arts, or reading, proficiency was 27 percent three years ago and 30 percent in 2016-17. The elementary school also has recorded gains in proficiency rates over three years.
“Adjustments to the instructional program have started, and we are very optimistic that teaching and learning will continue to create advanced academic improvement,” Williams said. “It is our mission to have all students show academic growth as they move throughout our PreK-12 educational system.”
Dexter’s elementary school jumped from a “D” in 2015-16 to a “B” for the 2016-17 academic year. In 2014-15, it received a “B.”
Dexter’s high school received a “D” this year, same as the previous year. The middle school received a “D,” an improvement over the previous two years, when it received an “F.”
“For all three schools, the Opportunity to Learn category, which is based on parent feedback about each school, remains consistently high,” Dodd said. ”We will continue to work as an educational team to identify strategies that need to be implemented to help our students improve.”
All schools in Lake Arthur dropped a grade this year. The high school received a “D,” the middle school an “F” and the elementary school a “D.”
The Lake Arthur report cards did show some positive results.
All schools earned either an “A” or “B” for Opportunity to Learn. The high school and middle school also showed increases in math proficiency rates compared to three years ago. All schools also earned some bonus points.
Ruszkowski said that the small, rural district, with about 115 to 130 students, is different from many others.
“Michael Grossman does everything from teaching a class to mowing the lawn to leading the (administrative) team,” he said.
The complete report cards can be found on the New Mexico Public Education Department website, aae.ped.state.nm.us.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.