By Emily Crowe
CNJ STAFF WRITER
The state’s high school students improved their reading proficiency scores on standardized tests this year, but there were declines for students in grades 4-6, Gov. Susana Martinez announced Friday.
Locally, test scores tell a similar story. Clovis High School students in grades 10-11 saw gains in reading scores compared to 2012, though those scores were still below state averages.
Districtwide, reading scores for students in grades 4-6 in Clovis declined, but were higher than state scores.
Portales Municipal Schools eleventh-graders showed improved reading scores over last year, but tenth-graders saw a drop similar to the statewide decline.
New Mexico has a “very long way to go to reform education” despite gains by some students, Martinez said.
“Even in areas where we see encouraging growth, proficiency rates remain very low relative to what our expectations should be,” she said in a statement. “Reform is a relentless commitment by each one of us to realize the full potential of all our students and to never give up until we do.”
The math and reading tests were taken this spring by 195,000 students across New Mexico in grades 3-8 and 10-11. Almost 51 percent were reading at their appropriate grade level and 42 percent were proficient in math.
Clovis Municipal Schools accounted for 4,918 of those students, and 1,721 Portales Municipal Schools students took the tests.
Some of the largest gains statewide and locally came in high school reading scores. Martinez attributed that in part to the state establishing higher standards, including requiring eleventh-graders to achieve passing scores on reading and math exams to graduate from high school the following year.
For math, 42 percent of eleventh-graders were proficient and 30.2 percent of tenth-graders performed at their appropriate grade level, which was up almost 1 percentage point from 2012.
Clovis scores show 39.1 percent of eleventh-graders as proficient in math and 32.8 percent of tenth-graders at the appropriate grade level for math. Both of these numbers represent an increase over last year’s scores.
For Portales, 52.2 percent of eleventh-graders and 34.9 percent of tenth-graders were proficient in math. Both of these numbers are higher than the statewide average.
For the third grade, the reading proficiency rate increased from 52.3 percent last year to 55.2 percent this year. That’s a turnaround from the three previous years when scores dropped for that grade level.
Reading scores for third-graders in Clovis and Portales also increased over last year’s scores.
Gains for Hispanic, Native American and African-American students in third grade were larger than for white students. The department pointed to that as a promising sign that New Mexico can narrow the historic achievement gap among racial and ethnic minorities. White and Asian students typically fare better in tests than Hispanics, Indians and blacks.
Martinez also said there were indications of possible success for a state-funded initiative aimed at improving reading skills of students in early grades. The money helps schools provide reading coaches and professional development for teachers. A dozen districts and one charter school received grants under the program this year, and six of those had third-grade reading proficiency gains of more than 5 percentage points.
Reading scores declined in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades. Martinez cited that in renewing her support for legislation to require school districts to hold back third-graders who can’t read proficiently, rather than promoting them to the next class. The Democrat-controlled Legislature has repeatedly rejected the proposal, however.
Grade Clovis Portales State
3 59.8 65.8 55.2
4 48.3 51.6 45.7
5 52.5 52.9 51.2
6 54.1 54.0 46.8
7 57.8 47.2 49.8
8 66.4 60.6 60.2
10 36.3 36.8 41.0
11 48.2 56.0 55.5
Grade Clovis Portales State
3 56.8 53.2 51.0
4 52.1 49.7 45.4
5 49.5 36.6 43.1
6 45.5 36.8 39.6
7 53.2 35.2 41.2
8 51.0 38.7 42.2
10 32.8 34.9 30.2
11 39.1 52.2 42.0
Source: New Mexico Department of Education
The Associated Press contributed to this story