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2 education groups urge caution over NM test revamp

Two education advocacy groups are urging caution as state officials work to revamp a student assessment test and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office angrily denies officials are trying to make the test easier to raise scores.

NewMexicoKidsCAN and Teach Plus said last week they hope state education officials maintain rigorous standards and consider results from recent years as they work on creating a new exam.

“We must now resolve to select an assessment system that builds on the progress made by our students over the past decade – this has been and should continue to be a bipartisan issue,” stated Amanda Aragon, executive director of NewMexicoKidsCAN.

She said troubling performance gaps remain for the state’s students of color and economically disadvantaged children.

Last month, the state released results that showed around 80% of students weren’t proficient in math and 67% weren’t proficient in reading. The results were from a “transition test” administered in the spring.

The results were released after Lujan Grisham abruptly fired Public Education Secretary Karen Trujillo, sparking questions from lawmakers and confusion among educators. On Monday, Lujan Grisham announced she had appointed Ryan Stewart, a regional official with a national nonprofit group, the new education secretary.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, scrapped a previous test known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, almost as soon as she took office in 2019. Teachers unions had long been opposed to the exam that previous Republican Gov. Susana Martinez introduced.

But Educators for Elevating New Mexico, a coalition of educators from mainly rural school districts, called the move to eliminate the PARCC exam “rushed” and “ill-informed.”

Lt. Gov. Howie Morales said teachers, parents and professionals are helping develop a new test in time for the new school year.

“The new test will assess the same standards, in a different and, we believe, more effective way and, again, are intended to monitor progress over time,” Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said.