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NM Education officials focus on national ranking

Christopher Ruszkowski, secretary of education, last week congratulated students from Military Heights Elementary School and El Capitan Elementary School for both earning an A grade. (Alison Penn Photo)

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Christopher Ruszkowski, state secretary of education, asked Roswell’s fourth and eighth graders to work hard if they are selected to take the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam early next year.

Ruszkowski visited El Capitan Elementary School, Military Heights Elementary School and Sidney Gutierrez Middle School on Thursday to celebrate those schools earning A grades in the NMTEACH system. Ruszkowski said the students have an extra responsibility to maintain the state ranking and potentially the national ranking after taking the one-hour NAEP reading and math assessment.

“If you get picked, I’m asking you for a special request from me to do your best for the state of New Mexico,” Ruszkowski said. “What we call NAEP 2019 — which happens in January — is our chance to show the country that it is not just El Capitan, it’s not just Military Heights, it’s the whole state that is on the rise.”

A New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) press release stated Ruszkowski and a PED team — as part of the #2019NAEP campaign — will be traveling to schools to raise awareness and encourage preparation for the NAEP assessment, which is also referred to as The Nation’s Report Card.

The team will deliver preparation boxes and posters and the PED’s NAEP coordinator will meet with staff and school boards to discuss the test.

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Ruszkowski said the #2019NAEP campaign is designed to encourage students to approach the assessment as a “game day” — and to prepare for it.

During his time visiting all of the 89 districts in the state, Ruszkowski said the PED realized how many New Mexicans did not know the national report card ranking is based on the NAEP, despite people being concerned about New Mexico ranking 49th in the country for education. With this in mind, the #2019NAEP campaign was launched with Gov. Susana Martinez in Albuquerque last Wednesday. The press release also stated that Martinez said New Mexico schools need to “rally together” to ensure the NAEP results reflect the state’s academic progress.

A PED press release stated, “The #NAEP2019 administration will be given to a random sample of fourth and eighth-grade students beginning Jan. 28, 2019 and ending March 8, 2019.”

“With thousands more students on grade level in reading and math, this is yet another opportunity to prove that New Mexico is on the rise,” Gov. Martinez said.

The release also stated performance of the fourth-grade and eighth-grade students on the NAEP is reflected in how they perform on New Mexico’s annual Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test.

The release said the PARCC is comparable to the NAEP, now that expectations and the level of rigor for the state’s test has been raised by the PED.

“Since Governor Martinez took office, students in New Mexico have had access to higher standards and more rigorous content that will make them competitive in the 21st century,” Ruszkowski said. “This year’s fourth and eighth graders grew up in this new reality, and this will be the first time our students will be fully ready to demonstrate the unprecedented progress they have been making. Now, it’s up to all of us to rally together as a school community and help get our students ready to raise New Mexico’s national ranking.”

The release stated, “NAEP is yet another opportunity to prove that New Mexico will be the fastest-improving state in education by 2020, as articulated in New Mexico’s top-rated State Plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.