It appears thousands of Albuquerque Public Schools students will be taking end of course exams after all, as the state’s largest school district and the New Mexico Public Education Department resolved logistics problems caused by late delivery of the exams by PED.
Earlier this week, a memorandum was distributed at APS that said the district might not give state-mandated tests, which are scheduled to begin next week, because the PED did not make all the exams available to districts until Tuesday. The tests cover 61 courses for grades 4 through 12.
APS officials feared they wouldn’t have enough time to print exams for the roughly 63,000 students who will take them – with most of those students scheduled to take multiple exams.
Citing the delay, the district initially said it might limit the tests to high school students for whom they were a graduation requirement.
On Wednesday, however, interim Superintendent Brad Winter said the district and the state had reached a compromise, and PED will help out with the massive print job so the district can give the exams.
“We are working collaboratively,” Winter said.
Last year, which was the first time the state issued end of course exams, PED posted them several weeks before they were to be given.
This year, PED made five of the exams available on April 14, then four more on April 16, said Public Education Department Chief of Staff and spokeswoman Ellen Hur. The department then posted 23 of the exams on April 19, 23 more on April 20 and the last six on April 21, she said.
The exams were posted later this year in part because the number of tests more than doubled, from 29 to 61, Hur said.
And in March the state provided a “content review” period for district officials, which pushed back the posting of the exams as district officials had a chance to look at the test content, Hur said.
The education department posts the tests online for districts to access, Hur said.
The PED gives districts the option of giving the exams on computers, which would alleviate the printing concerns, Hur said.
APS officials have said they want to avoid the online testing option in order to free up computer labs for classroom learning.
The computer labs have been used for PARCC standardized testing in recent weeks.
Not giving the exams could have could impacted some teacher evaluations next year because they are based in part on test scores from the prior three years.
Test scores make up 50 percent of most teachers’ evaluations in New Mexico, and scores from end of course exams are used to rate many teachers who teach subjects like art and physical education, which are not covered by the statewide standardized tests, such as the Standards Based Assessment or PARCC.
And social studies end of course exams given in high school count toward students’ graduation requirements – although other tests can be used to meet those requirements.
The exams will be given statewide during a three-week window that starts Monday.
Shelly Green, APS chief academic officer, said the district will move back some of the scheduled exams until later in the testing window, but district officials anticipate they will get the testing completed in the allotted three weeks..