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Martinez, Skandera challenged to take test

SANTA FE – On the heels of student protests against a new standardized test, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez has challenged Gov. Susana Martinez and Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera to take the high-profile exam.

Sanchez, a Belen Democrat who has clashed with the Republican governor over the last four years, said he’d like to find out whether Martinez and Skandera could pass the PARCC test, which will be administered to New Mexico public school students in grades 3-11 starting Monday.

“Legislators have heard the parents, the teachers and the students who are impacted by this controversial high-stakes exam,” Sanchez said in a statement released by Senate Democrats. “It is no laughing matter when you have to take the exam yourself.”

Santa Fe students protested the PARCC test at the state Public Education Department offices this week. The Senate Democratic leader has challenged Gov. Susana Martinez and Education Secretary Hanna Skandera to take the test. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Santa Fe students protested the PARCC test at the state Public Education Department offices this week. The Senate Democratic leader has challenged Gov. Susana Martinez and Education Secretary Hanna Skandera to take the test. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Sen. Sanchez said that Martinez and Skandera pass the PARCC test, he will treat them to breakfast burritos, the statement said. If they fail, however, Sen. Sanchez challenged them to spend a full day in a third-grade classroom assisting teachers.

A spokesman for the governor brushed off the challenge as “yet another ridiculous political stunt.”

“An annual assessment has been required by federal and state law for decades,” said Enrique Knell, a spokesman for Martinez. “As usual, it sounds as though Sen. Sanchez wants to just keep doing things the way they have always been done. That thinking has failed our students for too long.

“Apparently, he has no regard for the thousands of teachers who worked on designing an exam that better captures a student’s growth and understanding.”

The PARCC test, short for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is a state-mandated exam. Results will be factored into the state’s school grading and teacher evaluation systems, both of which have been implemented since Martinez took office in 2011.

Earlier this week, more than 100 students from Santa Fe high schools staged school walkouts and protested the PARCC exam outside the Public Education Building and state Capitol.

In response to the protests, PED said the time spent on standardized tests in New Mexico has actually decreased in recent years. The agency also said it was “disappointing” the students were not in class during the middle of a school day.

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