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State releases data about 15,000 students struggling with reading

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In their efforts to improve early literacy among students, New Mexico public schools notified families of 15,344 first- through third-graders last academic year that the children were reading below grade level, an increase of 13,646 notifications from the 2015-16 school year.

The notices were intended to give families an accurate understanding of students’ performance based on assessments and class instruction. With more notifications being given, the New Mexico Public Education Department now urges public K12 schools to inform families that their children can receive an additional year of school instruction before being advanced to the next grade.

The PED stated in a release issued Wednesday that data analysis indicates that 21,490 students in grades 1-3 were passed on to the next grade at the end of the 2016-17 academic year although they were reading below grade level according to their assessment scores.

Gov. Susana Martinez said in the statement that the practice of advancing students who are not proficient is a disservice to the students, families and the state. Education Secretary-Designate Christopher Ruszkowski indicated that the state has invested more money to expand early literacy efforts and increased assessment and notification efforts, and now must focus on getting students with need the additional instruction.

According to the information released by the Education Department concerning 2016-17 assessments:

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• 3,085 first-graders earned marks well below grade-level on Istation, indicating students that cannot read.

• 3,352 second-graders earned marks well below grade-level on Istation.

• 6,598 third-grade students scored at level 1 on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, the lowest score possible on the standardized test.