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Monterrey students show improvement in math, reading

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Students at Monterrey Elementary School are showing improvement in reading and math scores, according to a report presented by the school’s principal at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Roswell Independent School District Board of Education.

Principal Greg Torres presented results from his school’s 90-day plan to improve student outcomes. All New Mexico schools are required to prepare two 90-day plans a year.

Torres said Monterrey’s plan focuses on the same objectives as last year, core instruction and standards alignment.

“With COVID and virtual learning, we really didn’t feel like we could move past that and say we accomplished all we really wanted to,” he told board members.

The plan outlined what the teachers at each grade level should be teaching and what the students are supposed to learn, setting goals for assessment tests to measure the outcomes.

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For kindergarten through second grade, the school set a goal of students reaching the 50th percentile on the Istation Indicators of Progress assessments in reading and math.

Third through fifth grades were measured against the New Mexico Measure of Students Success and Achievement with a goal of improving scores by at least 15% over last year, Torres said.

At mid-year, the kindergarten through second grades have come very close to the reading targets set by a team of school and district staff.

From August to December, kindergartners improved average reading assessment scores from 169 to 192, just short of the December goal of 194.

“We closed the gap from being 12 points behind our projected goal to only two points below,” he said. “That’s a huge gain for our kindergarten reading.”

First graders ended the year with an average score of 203, up from 188 in August and just 10 points below the December goal.

Second graders increased their average scores from 212 to 226, five points below the December goal.

Reading proficiency measures the percentage of students who are reading at the expected grade level. At Monterrey, kindergarten proficiency increased from 3% to 20% and first graders improved from 4% to 10%.

Second graders began the year with 16% proficient in reading and ended the semester at 15%.

In math, kindergartners saw even better improvement. Average test scores started at 276 in August and were 363 in December, surpassing the goal of 339. Proficiency started at 16% in August and reached 42% in December.

“That’s really a big celebration that we have is our kindergarten math,” Torres said.

Average scores and proficiencies saw smaller gains in first grade, from 367 to 420, ending 16 points below the target on scores and increasing from 2% to 14% in proficiency.

Second graders improved average test scores from 435 in August to 457 in December, with a goal of 491. As with reading, however, proficiency did not increase, staying at 2%.

Torres noted that kindergartners, unlike first- and second-graders, were not in school when the pandemic started and did not have to work with remote learning.

“The other grade levels, unfortunately, they had to experience that. Our kindergartners were untainted by that and we’re seeing huge growth and huge progress,” he said.

Third through fifth grades are now starting their mid-year assessments, but Torres presented data from the beginning of the year.

In reading, third graders averaged 349.7 points on assessments tests, under the goal of 360. Proficiency was at 42%, 6 percentage points below the district’s average proficiency.

Fourth graders scored 448.2 points on average compared to the goal of 460 and had a proficiency of 44% compared to the district average of 47%

Fifth graders came within less than two points of the 560 average score goal at 558.3 and had 47% proficiency compared to the district’s average of 51%.

The math scores, however, showed a great discrepancy with proficiencies in single digits or even at zero. The district averages were also in single digits. Torres said that was due largely to the state transitioning to new assessment tests.

“This was a new assessment that was given to us last year, and we were one of 10% of the districts in the state that even attempted to take this assessment,” he said.

The math assessments are on target with the rest of the state, he said. He said he expects the state will make adjustments to those assessments in the future.

“I don’t know that’s a true indicator at this point. I think it will all start to level out as we move forward through the years,” he said.

What has made a big difference in the reading scores, Torres said, is the district’s adoption of a new English language arts curriculum. The board in October approved usage of the Core Knowledge Language Arts, or CKLA, the first new ELA curriculum for the district in a decade.

CKLA gives the teachers evidence-based foundational resources for teaching subjects such as reading, Torres said, where before they were having to piecemeal their curriculum from an outdated one and supplemental materials.

“They were having to be curriculum developers in a sense, and that was a big strain on them,” he said.

“Now they have research-based curriculum in place that they can move forward with,” he said.

Jennifer Cole, assistant superintendent of curriculum and development, said the district also provides several mentorship and coaching programs for teachers who might be struggling in their lessons.

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

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