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SF test scores below state average

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SBA results show work to improve ‘remains incomplete’

The latest test scores measuring whether or not students are meeting state standards showed Santa Fe Public Schools still lagging behind state averages, with fewer than half of students overall rated as proficient or better in reading and math.

The preliminary data, released Friday, showed 46.1 percent of SFPS students were rated proficient in their grade level for reading and 35.1 percent for math; statewide, the figures were 51 percent for reading and 42 percent for math.

Compared to 2012, Santa Fe’s figures show a slight increase in math and a slight decrease in reading.

“Overall, this data suggests that our work as a district remains incomplete,” Santa Fe Superintendent Joel Boyd said in a news release. “It’s clear that we need to accelerate our improvement efforts to ensure that all students are progressing toward grade level proficiency as quickly as possible.”

He added, “While reaffirming the need for continued reform within our schools, these results offer several indicators which suggest that we are on the right track with our strategy.”

Such indicators, according to the news release, include improvements in math scores in 56 percent of SFPS schools and in reading for 44 percent of schools. Students in 11th grade showed the greatest improvement, with 53.3 percent of students scoring at proficient levels in reading, an increase of 13.5 percent over the previous year, and 32.4 percent scoring proficiency in math, an increase of 5.1 percent.

Those scores reflect an interesting anomaly in the scores. Overall, this year’s Santa Fe scores show students’ proficiency highest in the lower grades, continually dropping until the third year in high school, when they suddenly shoot up again. Those higher scores in 11th grade were also seen statewide.

At least initially, Boyd told the Journal he couldn’t say whether the scores reflected greater learning, a particularly smart cohort of students, or the effect of less accomplished students dropping out between the 10th and 11th grades.

SFPS also touted improvements in scores by children still learning the English language, with 20.2 percent registering proficient levels in reading and 15.8 percent in math. Still, those scores show significant lags behind overall student achievement.

An achievement gap also clearly exists between Anglos and Hispanics, with students identified as Caucasian getting higher scores in all subject areas. Proficiency scores for students with disabilities were often in the single digits, while scores were also below averages for students who were economically disadvantaged.

The Santa Fe scores also show students overall doing better at reading than math, although the gap among females is greater than for males. That larger gap, though, mostly reflects girls’ higher scores in reading. Boys’ math scores generally didn’t start overtaking the girls’ until high school.

Overall, among the grades tested, Santa Fe students deemed to be proficient or greater in reading ranged from 32.2 percent in 10th grade to 53.3 percent in 11th grade; from 19.2 percent in 10th grade to 47.1 percent in third grade for math; and from 35.9 percent in seventh grade to 58.8 percent in fourth grade for science.

These 2013 Standards Based Assessment scores reflect tests taken by 8,411 students in grades 3-8 and 10-11 in Santa Fe Public Schools. The district plans to review the data and verify the results before presenting its analysis to the school board on Aug. 12, according to an SFPS news release.

Statewide, high schools students improved their reading scores, but elementary students in grades 4-6 fell back, according to Gov. Susana Martinez. She attributed the high school improvements in part to the state establishing higher standards.

“Even in areas where we see encouraging growth, proficiency rates remain very low relative to what our expectations should be,” the governor said in a statement.

Gains for Hispanic, Native American and African-American students in third grade were larger than for white students. The state Public Education Department pointed to that as a promising sign that New Mexico can narrow the historic achievement gap among racial and ethnic minorities.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

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