High school earns passing marks on AYP

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

The Portales Municipal School District learned early this week that Portales High School has made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) despite initial reports last week that showed the school failing.

According to Priscilla Hernandez, director of instruction at Portales Schools, the New Mexico Public Education Department informed the district in an e-mail over the weekend that PHS was being upgraded on the report.

She said the change came in a “safe harbor” clause of the report structure that allows a subgroup to pass even though it’s not at the required level, as long as at least 10 percent of the students in that subgroup had been moved up to proficient since the previous year.

In the previously released reports, PHS failed to pass reading in the Hispanic subgroup and both reading and math in the students with disabilities subgroup. An updated report on the PED Web site shows PHS making 100 percent of its 37 indicators.

“We’ve got good kids, good teachers and a good support staff, and they all work day-in and day-out to get better,” PHS principal Melvin Nusser said.

Both Nusser and Superintendent Randy Fowler said they were surprised by the upgrade, saying they didn’t expect inaccurate scores after PED delayed the results once earlier this month.

Hernandez told school board members at their regular meeting Monday that she believes Valencia Elementary may also pass under the same criteria. She said the administration will be asking the PED to review the results. Changes can be made on the results by the state up until Sept. 17, according to Hernandez.

“We have a lot to celebrate, we have great things happening,” Hernandez said.

She explained to board members that despite many of the district’s schools failing AYP, 95 percent of the indicators on the tests were made. She noted that overall the district’s scores are improving and singled out a huge improvement at Lindsey Elementary where reading scores had improved dramatically.

“Lindsey actually exceeded the state average in reading,” she said.

Fowler told the board that he felt the district had been successful with AYP scores this year.

“If we had neighborhood schools, Portales would have met AYP every year since it started,” Fowler said. “People would be talking about how great we are, instead of that we failed.”

Fowler and Hernandez said that the indicators in subgroups have been the stumbling block to making AYP.

“There’s some things that really need to change,” Fowler said when a board member questioned whether the federal No Child Left Behind Act was likely to be changed. “I’ve never met an educator who wanted a child left behind.”