Local schools score on low end under new grading system

Alisa Boswell

Curry and Roosevelt County school districts did not fare well with the trial test results for the New Mexico Department of Education’s new A-F Grading System, which is set to replace the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) grading system.

The Clovis school district received only As for two schools out of their 18, averaging C and D grades with the rest. Portales schools received no As and averaged a C grade.

Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Terry Myers and Portales Municipal Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler said they are not worried about most of their schools scoring low, because they had no guidelines to the new grading system before testing.

“It’s very difficult for us to defend and explain our grades when we don’t even know the nuances and calculation used to define that system,” Myers said. “There’s a lot of it that’s incomplete for us. Those bits of information that could make a difference in this system haven’t been included in yet, like extra points districts could earn by doing additional things.”

Fowler said he does not have confidence in the grades released Tuesday, because James Elementary and Brown Elementary schools were originally given grades D and F when they didn’t even test.

“There are a lot of questions about the grades and how they are coming up with these grades. But still, overall, it probably puts us in a little better light on us than what No Child Left Behind did,” Fowler said. “Under No Child Left Behind, there were so many ways our schools could fail and very few ways we could make AYP standards. If certain subgroups did not pass the tests, the entire district failed. This new grading system will do things a little different and at least give us credit for some of our accomplishments.”

Myers said it is obvious adjustments need to be made to the new system, but he has high hopes for it.

He said school districts have been promised more details and guidelines before the real testing occurs in March, so he has hopes of faring much better.

“If the government uses this system the way they say they have designed it, for student improvement, then it will be an improvement over the AYP system we have now. If it will be truly graded on school improvement every year then indeed it’s going to be a good system,” Myers said. “We are going to try to use these grades as a benchmark to catapult to improvement and we’re going to continue to improve from there. We are going to fare very, very well when we test in March.”