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PED announces new test for grades 3-8

In spring 2020, students in third through eighth grade will be taking the “New Mexico Measure of Student Success and Achievement” test, designed by Georgia-based education nonprofit Cognia.

The English and math proficiency tests on Cognia’s platform will replace the PARCC test, the state Public Education Department announced Tuesday.

The state has been in a standardized testing transition period after an executive order from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ended PARCC testing in the state.

A task force was used to help choose the official replacement.

The New Mexico Measure of Student Success and Achievement or NM-MSSA is billed as a less time-intensive assessment that aligns with New Mexico Common Core Standards.

Because of this, deputy secretary Gwen Perea Warniment thinks New Mexico won’t have to completely create a new proficiency baseline.

“There is some comparability in terms of really strong alignment with the common core state standards,” she told the Journal.

“The design (of the test) itself is not necessarily exactly like PARCC but the data will be comparable,” she added.

Still, this is a new test for New Mexico.

The state first used PARCC for English and math assessment in 2015 and used Standards Based Assessment before that.

Critics have been skeptical about New Mexico’s history of test shake-ups, saying a change in test affects consistent data over time.

Cognia isn’t a total stranger to New Mexico. It was formed as a result of the merger of nonprofits AdvancED and Measured Progress. Measured Progress previously administered the SBA in the state.

And Cognia is also the current vendor for the state’s science and Spanish reading tests.

Perea Warniment said the aim with NM-MSSA is for Cognia to create assessment questions that are New Mexico-specific.

The deputy secretary said this will be one of the main differences from PARCC.

“It will be unique to New Mexico, and not a standardized consortium test. While still aligned to the Common Core State Standards, specifically, the test is different in two ways. First, the test has a significantly shorter time frame. Second, while leveraging some existing test items in order to allow for longitudinal data, the test will also incorporate New Mexico-developed test items that are culturally relevant and reflect the voices of our teachers and communities,” she wrote in an email to the Journal.

The NM-MSSA is said to take up to six hours, about three hours shorter than PARCC, according to a PED news release.

“We believe this suite of assessments is more meaningful for students and less burdensome on classroom instructional time. These assessments will provide more meaningful data about how our students are performing academically and how instruction can be adjusted to meet the needs of all students,” PED Secretary-designate Ryan Stewart wrote in a statement. “We are grateful to the public for the thoughtful input provided throughout the process of developing a new assessment system.”

The cost per student, which is covered by the state, is $38.92, according to the department.

Through the Cognia agreement, schools will also have the option to give content-specific “testlets” to see how students are doing in specific areas.

Last month, the PED announced that the SAT will be the standardized assessment for 11th graders. On Tuesday, it was revealed that 10th grade students will be required to take the PSAT, too.