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APS calls PARCC results ‘perplexing’

APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Raquel Reedy is reviewing the district’s low PARCC scores and working on a plan to improve.

Reedy called the results “perplexing” in a statement emailed to the Journal on Tuesday afternoon.

“We made some gains, but we also saw losses,” she said of the latest scores, which were released Monday by the New Mexico Public Education Department.

“Our high school students continue to outperform their peers across the state, but our elementary and middle school students didn’t fare as well.”

Overall, APS English proficiency dropped to 27 percent, down 2.1 percentage points since 2015. Math scores increased slightly to 19.7 percent over the same period.

Statewide, 28.6 percent of children met the benchmark for English and 19.7 percent for math — only marginally better than in 2015, the first year New Mexico administered the controversial assessment.

While APS high school students were relatively strong, with scores exceeding the state averages, they failed to show growth on a number of  PARCC tests. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a rigorous exam aligned with Common Core standards, is administered by computer in grades 3-11.

APS 11th-graders reached 44.4 percent proficiency in English on the latest round of testing — about a percentage point above the state average — but they actually performed better in 2015 when their proficiency rate was 51.3 percent.

The district’s English scores also slid significantly in 10th and third grades over the past three years. Math scores remained relatively flat or rose between 1 and 3 percentage points across most APS grade levels.

Christopher Ruszkowski, acting secretary of education, pointed to several large districts that saw stronger improvement but acknowledged that APS —  with one-quarter of the state’s students at more than 80,000 — had a huge impact on New Mexico’s overall scores.

“No question the largest district is a bellwether of how we are doing,” he told the Journal. “We can’t move forward as a state without our largest district on board.”

Reedy said APS is addressing concerns like low tests scores in a five-year academic master plan that outlines district goals and steps to reach them. One component is a “new pre-K to graduation approach to education.”

APS administrators are gathering this week for professional development, including a review of the plan.

“We understand the work that needs to be done, and we won’t be satisfied until our students are where they need to be,” Reedy said.

Like many districts, APS saw some of its schools post strong gains, while others slid backward.

East Mountain High School was a standout for improvement in English and math, which rose 12.3 percentage points and 8.2 percentage points, respectively, from the previous year.

Conversely, Bandelier Elementary dropped 19.2 percentage points in math and Volcano Vista 11.8 percentage points in English.

Reedy noted that districts across New Mexico need to improve their results.

“The truth is there are few scores in the state that we can be proud of,” she said.