Schools work hard to improve AYP marks

By Tony Parra

Portales High School administration members said they are taking the necessary steps to ensure test scores will be higher than the last adequate yearly progress reports which labeled Portales schools as not meeting AYP requirements.
Portales administrators received the AYP reports in August and Portales schools did not meet AYP. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 means states and schools are required to make annual AYP determinations for districts and schools. The goal is to have all students proficient in reading and math by the year 2014.
Portales school students will be taking the standard base assessment test from Feb. 28 to March 4, according to Priscilla Maestas, assistant superintendent and director of instruction for Portales Schools. Portales administration officials will receive the results from these tests in August.
Administrators are aiming at different results this time around. Maestas said an action plan was developed and the information was provided to teachers in September.
“The best preparation for the standards-based assessment is the outstanding work that our teachers have been doing all year,” Maestas said. “Teaching the New Mexico content standards, benchmarks, and grade-specific performance standards.”
Students tested will be in grades 3-9 and high school juniors. The state’s AYP ratings will be measured by the results from high school juniors, fourth-graders and eighth-graders.
Maestas said practice tests were ordered from Key Links and provided to the teachers. The assessment company for Portales Schools is Harcourt.
Portales Junior High Principal Steve Harris said there will be a pep rally on Wednesday in preparation of the testing.
“Some kids may have the attitude that it doesn’t affect them if they pass or fail,” Portales Junior High PrincipalSteve Harris, Portales Junior High principal, said. “Some believe, ‘Why do I have to do it?’ We need to get those students to realize there are consequences. It affects what classes they will have the next year.”
Harris said, for example, if a student does not do so well in math, they may be required to take a certain type of math or more additional math work the next year. Harris said the testing used to be composed of basic skills and requiring students to darken in a bubble.
According to Harris, there’s more writing required in the answers and showing the student’s work explaining how they came up with the mathematical answer, instead of just the mathematical answer.
Harris said the teachers have been informed on how to handle the tests, conduct the test-taking and keeping the tests secure.