School board looking for ways to improve test scores

By Tony Parra

The Portales School officials devoted most of their time in the school board meeting on Monday night to showing how they will improve adequate yearly progress scores for Portales students.
“We have in mind what we are going to do to make sure we are not on the AYP list,” Priscilla Maestas, assistant superintendent and director of instruction for Portales Schools, said. “We are focusing on subgroups and figuring out why Portales did not meet AYP.”
One of the keys to AYP testing is if one of the subgroups (black, white, Hispanic, poor or “economically disadvatanged,” special education students) does not meet AYP standards then all of the students in the class for that school do not meet AYP. For example, Maestas said because special education students in the fourth grade did not meet AYP then all fourth-graders tested were labeled as not meeting AYP. She said this was the case for eighth-graders also.
Maestas said there were not enough special education students in the juniors’ class to be considered a subgroup — a subgroup must have at least 25 students. She said Hispanics in the junior class did not meet AYP and this caused the entire class to not meet AYP.
Maestas said school officials are compiling the data from the tests for the last four years, researching the data and figuring where they need to focus on. She said teachers have already had a powerpoint presentation discussing what areas they need to focus on. Maestas said teachers have information on what’s going to be on the tests and they have practice tests they can give to students.
“We’re ahead of the game in Portales,” Maestas said. “We’re doing a wonderful job of getting the new lingo for the tests and the teachers understand what’s going to be weighted on the test.”
Maestas said open-ended questions carry more weight than the other questions. Each principal talked about what each of the schools is doing to improve AYP scores. Maestas expressed her joy over the participation percentages for parent-teacher conferences: 97.9 percent for Lindsey Middle School; 95 percent for James Elementary; and 98.94 for Steiner Elementary.
In other business at Monday’s meeting:
— School board president Inez Rodriguez announced the election of school board members for Districts 3 and 4 will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 1. Declaration of candidacy must be done from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 21 at the Roosevelt County Courthouse. Steve Davis is the current District 3 representative while David Brooks is the District 4 representative.
— Portales High Principal Melvin Nusser also made the announcement that Portales senior Charles Britton was selected as the District Student Council President for a council of more than 200 students from eastern New Mexico schools. Some of the schools in the district are Carlsbad, Artesia and Nusser.
Nusser said a PHS student has been selected as the president of the district student council in three of the last five years. Britton was also one of the seven students on the all-star choir team which sang the national anthem before the meeting.