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RISD leaders present ‘Mission: Possible’ to staff

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Wearing graduation gowns, future graduates held signs with their potential graduation years, from 2020 all the way to 2033, after Roswell Independent School District employees were addressed at Pearson Auditorium on the New Mexico Military Institute campus on Tuesday morning. (Alison Penn Photo)

Graduation rates and local test scores comparable to state’s

With the 2019-20 school year beginning today, employees of the Roswell Independent School District have been tasked with approaching the year with goals, while guiding students toward high school graduations.

RISD Superintendent Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy encouraged all of the educators and administrators that the back-to-school process was “Mission: Possible,” a reference to the “Mission: Impossible” spy movie series. Nearly every seat at the Pearson Auditorium on the New Mexico Military Institute campus was occupied for the event on Tuesday morning.

“We have a grand mission in education,” McIlroy said. “We shape the future of what our nation is going to be, of what our kids are going to be able to do and who’s going to be taking care of us in the nursing home. We shape that future. That’s important stuff. …”

After McIlroy’s speech, a video featuring RISD employees on a top-secret mission was played and attendees clapped, cheered and laughed for various scenes. The video was made by Jerry Holm, the district’s public relations coordinator, and this video — as well as other RISD videos — can be viewed on the “Roswell Schools” Facebook page.

McIlroy said the district will be adopting an “ethical goal,” a term she attributed to Godswill Barrah, RISD director of secondary programs, to have district test scores reflect 71% proficiency in English Language Arts (ELA) and 67% in math, which she called a “big jump” from what was reflected the past year.

In the past month, statewide test scores from the New Mexico Standards-Based Transition Assessment of Math and English Language Arts, known as TAMELA — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s replacement for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test — were released by the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED).

The scores show that New Mexico students exhibited 33% proficiency in ELA this past year and around 20% in mathematics consistently for four years now.

Aligning closely with the state’s averages, RISD showed that students were proficient at 29% in ELA and 20% in math. Through a PowerPoint presentation, McIlroy showed photos of students on RISD playgrounds and in classrooms, where all but a few students were crossed out to illustrate how many students were not proficient in reading and math.

Regionally, Dexter’s scores were 22% in ELA and 18% in math, Hagerman’s were 24% in ELA and 18% in math and Lake Arthur’s scores showed ELA between 20-24% and 30-34% in math.

All of the academic achievement data and graduation rates can be seen at webnew.ped.state.nm.us/bureaus/accountability/.

Improving attendance and graduation rates were also components within the ethical goal. McIlroy said last year the district’s graduation rate was less than 70%. She said she thought about the students who didn’t graduate, as well as their families, during the graduations in the spring.

According to data from the PED, RISD’s graduation rate has been an average of 67.9% since 2014. Data for 2019 has not yet been released.

A records request showed that 534 students, along with five summer school graduates, graduated this year from Goddard High School, Roswell High School, University High School and Early College High School, from the end-of-the-year report submitted to the PED. On Oct. 14, 2015, there were 784 freshmen — from the class of 2019 — accounted for on the 40th day of school at RISD.

PED data from last year showed the state’s graduation rate was 73.9%, meaning around 19,000 out of 26,000 students graduated high school within four years.

“This standardized one-size-fits-all approach to education is dead,” Timothy Hand, Ph.D., PED deputy secretary of policy, strategy and accountability, said Tuesday morning. “I’m talking about as the United States, we tried it. … Let’s get back to supporting teachers in the classroom because there is nothing that can impact a student’s life more than a competent, qualified and caring educator in every class in the state of New Mexico — and I aim to help in any way I can. …”

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