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Gov. Martinez Outlines $4.2 Million Education Proposal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico students between fourth and 10th grades would undergo more standardized testing and the state would cover the cost of some college preparatory work, under a proposal Gov. Susana Martinez says would lead to more students graduating from high school and succeeding in college.

Martinez on Wednesday outlined the $4.2 million education package, which will be included in the budget proposal she sends to state lawmakers next month.

Much of the proposed money, about $2.5 million, would go toward new student tests given several times throughout the year, creating a standard profile for each of about 180,000 students that would be used when a student transfers to another New Mexico school.

The new money also would pay for all 10th-grade students to take the PSAT college aptitude test, fund advanced placement course testing for low-income students and help offset textbook expenses for high school students taking dual-enrollment college courses.

“Our students learn best when their teachers can assess their progress throughout the school year, so that they can quickly adjust their instruction to make sure every single child learns and isn’t allowed to remain lost or discouraged or fall behind in the class,” Martinez said at a news conference at the University of New Mexico.

The proposal expands on an established state program that tracks student reading progress through third grade, she said. It would be in addition to the standardized Student Based Assessment test, which is used annually to measure school and school district performance.

Details of the new tests have not been released.

“There’s many, many short-cycle assessments you can choose from, and we’ll certainly … be looking for assessments that can be used throughout the state,” Public Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera said.

The other programs targeted in Martinez’s proposal are intended to help increase high school students’ interest in college. Advanced placement courses for students to qualify for college credit after taking a test and college dual-enrollment courses that offer high school students a preview of college encourage students to focus on academics in high school, the governor said.

The proposal would provide about $1.7 million to help low-income students pay costs related to the college preparatory programs, according to the governor’s office.

Higher Education Department Secretary Jose Garcia said the programs could help reduce the need for new college students to take remedial college courses and instead focus on getting a degree.

“We’re spending too much money on remediation,” Garcia said. “Giving students advanced placement into college, giving students dual credit, ways of achieving colleges success before they reach college is one important way of motivating students and (getting) them into a pipeline so they can be successful when they come to the university.”

Martinez earlier this month announced that she intends to again push to end the practice of “social promotion” and propose $17 million in state funding for early childhood education.

A Martinez-backed bill that would have halted social promotion by requiring third-graders to show reading proficiency before they could advance to fourth grade failed to gain full legislative approval this year.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal