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NM school districts to get test scores earlier

New Mexico Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski

New Mexico Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski

New Mexico school districts will now get student test scores by the end of the school year, according to changes announced by the state’s Public Education Department this week.

State Education Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski said the revisions, adopted immediately, come after he and other education officials received feedback from teachers on New Mexico’s required statewide exam – a test that has drawn strong criticism from teachers unions and others.

Now, test results from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, will be available for school districts by May instead of the summer. The window for school districts to administer the test also will be reduced. By shortening the test window, there will be more time for classroom instruction, he said.

Ruszkowski said state officials also hope to shorten the time needed to take PARCC tests by 2020.

The PARCC exams, administered by New Mexico, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, are designed to show how well schools helped students from third grade to 11th grade meet Common Core standards.

PED results show that more than 31 percent of students tested this spring are proficient or better in reading and more than 21 percent are proficient or better in math.

Charles Goodmacher, government relations director for the National Education Association in New Mexico, said the announced changes aren’t a result of Gov. Martinez’s administration finally coming around, but because unions and advocates forced education officials to “roll back the harmful testing policies” in the state.

Goodmacher also said getting test results back in the final couple of weeks of a school year still does not allow educators to refine their instruction.

Ruszkowski said by providing test results by the end of the school year, parents and students know where to focus tutoring efforts over the summer break.