School officials to appeal Valencia’s probationary rating

Gary Mitchell

Portales school officials are set to meet with state Department of Education officials on Friday to appeal a recent probationary rating for Valencia Elementary School.
The Educational Standards Commission will hold hearings to appeal ratings at the State Capitol, Room 303, in Santa Fe.
Eligible schools are those that received a probationary rating for the first or second time and will enter either the “performance warned” or “first year of school improvement” categories.
Portales officials will present their case for changing Valencia’s status from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. on Friday.
Clovis officials will present their case for changing Bella Vista Elementary’s probationary status from 10:30 to 11 a.m. on Friday.
Portales superintendent of schools Jim Holloway cited a discrepancy in figures used by state Department of Education officials in evaluating Valencia students.
“There’s a discrepancy between the number of students they reported as taking the test and the number of students we had taking the test,” he said. “The state showed more taking the test in a special category of students. If our numbers are correct, it’s not a probationary situation.”
Holloway said school district officials also will present other assessment data “to show we did have growth” at that school.
Although Portales officials haven’t requested a formal appeal hearing for the probationary status of Broad Horizons school, Holloway said they were hoping to correct figures reported in connection with that school as well.
“We have two classes of students attending Broad Horizons — a morning class and an afternoon class,” he said. “We feel the state only took the number of students taking the test in the morning class. If we can show the correct numbers, we’re hoping they can make the change and not need to make an appeal.”
The ESC will consider, in addition to other norm-referenced and criterion-referenced test data, results from district-designed tests that demonstrate student progress toward the state’s content standards, benchmarks and performance standards, other assessments aligned to the state’s standards and other data which address attendance, dropout rate and graduation rate.
“Schools must present compelling evidence that students have made progress that is not reflected in the accountability rating system,” said Dr. Melville Morgan, the SDE’s assistant superintendent of accountability and school improvement services. “School and district personnel must present data that demonstrate justification for the appeal.”
After the Educational Standards Commission hears the appeals, the members will “review what they’ve heard and prepare a report to the state Board of Education,” said Bill Blair, deputy director of the accountability and school improvement services division. “They will make a recommendation to change or not to change the ratings.”
The next meeting of the state Board of Education will be Oct. 8-9, Blair said.
Portales school officials said they have strong cases to present to the commission.
“Mr. David van Wettering (the principal of Valencia Elementary) has put together a good case for us coming off probation,” Holloway said.