Gov. Susana Martinez could hardly contain her excitement Saturday when announcing results of a national report on Advanced Placement course outcomes in the state, saying that, this time, New Mexico is on the top of a list when it comes to education.
Hispanic students in New Mexico schools rank No. 1 in the nation for their participation and success on Advanced Placement tests, which are aimed at preparing students for college and allow them to skip certain introductory college courses, according to a ranking compiled by education nonprofit College Board.
“This is absolutely amazing and I’m so excited,” the governor told reporters during a news conference at the University of New Mexico engineering building. “This shows that what we’re doing with Advanced Placement is working.”
This is the second consecutive year that New Mexico’s Hispanic students topped the list for AP exam success. College Board compiles data from states, the federal government and the AP program to build the ranking, according to the nonprofit’s website.
The governor also pointed out that New Mexico’s low-income students were ranked second in the country for their success on the exams, as well. That’s the first time New Mexico has ranked that high, she said. Because the full report won’t be released until later this month, the governor’s staff said, the name of the first-ranked state in that category was not released.
The report found that nearly half of Hispanic students who graduated last year took an AP class – the highest percentage in the nation. Further, the governor said, 43 percent of those Hispanic students who took the test scored a “3” or better, which enables them to bypass introductory courses in that subject when they attend college. The students who leapfrog the introductory courses tend to be better prepared for college and save their parents money in paying for the courses, the governor said.
The governor and state Public Education Department chief Hanna Skandera touted her administration’s efforts at expanding access to AP courses, which are offered in a variety of subjects, to low-income students and students in rural areas. The governor used the high ranking as proof that their efforts were working and announced that she plans to ask the Legislature to increase AP funding in the state budget to $2 million.
The Governor’s Office did not immediately provide data that would have compared New Mexico Hispanic students’ performance to their non-Hispanic classmates’.