Area schools on par with rest of state

By Tony Parra

Portales schools received scores hovering around the state average for math and language arts tests for fourth and eighth graders, according to a press release from the New Mexico Public Education Department released on Thursday.
The Portales fourth and eighth graders scored above the state average in one category, average in one category and two scores below the state average. Portales fourth-graders scored a 49 percent in language arts, the same as the state average. The fourth-graders earned a 57 percent score in math and the state average was 58 percent.
Meanwhile the Portales eighth graders received scores above and below the state average. The eighth graders scored a 53 percent proficiency score in reading, while the state average was 57 percent. The same eighth graders scored higher (53 percent) in math than the state average (49 percent).
Priscilla Maestas, Assistant Superintendent and Director of Instruction for Portales Schools, said all of the district’s scores show an improvement and are ahead of schedule with the Adequately Yearly Process timeline. Maestas said the AYP was set up through the No Child Left Behind Act.
“It’s a timeline for schools to be at a proficient level by 2013 to 2014,” Maestas said. “We’re two years ahead in the math projected timeline (for eighth graders). We are still looking for ways to improve.”
Maestas said the state has required each school raise their proficiency scores from year to year. She said the Portales Schools district scores have improved from last year. Maestas said the state gives out warnings at the end of Aug. for schools not showing improvement on their scores. She said they graduation rates and drop-out rates of the district are also part of the evaluation.
She said the fourth-graders’ scores were up 0.5 percent from last year in Language Arts and showed a 3.3 percent increase in Math.
There was a substantial difference between ethnic groups in New Mexico for 11th graders in a previous result from the NMPED. There were 72 percent proficiency level for Caucasians in reading and 47 percent proficiency level for Hispanics. In the math testing, 63 percent of Caucasians were graded as proficient, but only 37 percent of Hispanics met that same standard.
Once again there was a difference between ethnic groups for Caucasians and Hispanics for fourth graders: Language Arts, Caucasian 66 percent, Hispanic 44 percent; and math, Caucasian 72 percent, Hispanic 52. There was also a difference in eighth graders: Language Arts, Caucasian 75, Hispanic 49 percent; math, Caucasian 69 percent, Hispanic 41.
“We need to do testing to determine why there is that disparity,” Sen. Jeff Bingaman said during a Friday visit in Portales. “Once we determine the disparity we can work on solving the problem. We need to research the groups who are not showing an improvement in their scores.”
The Portales fourth graders posted the highest proficiency score in Language Arts of the Roosevelt County schools, while Floyd fourth-graders scored the highest score in math proficiency with a score of 63 percent.
Dora eighth-graders had the highest Language Arts (79 percent) and math (58 percent) in the county. Floyd eighth graders tallied a 65 percent proficiency score in Language Arts, eight percentage points higher than the state average.