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New survey ranks NM’s education system almost last in the nation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, New Mexico’s education system ranks as the 50th worst, only slightly better than Louisiana, which came in dead last, and slightly worse than Alaska, according to a survey conducted by the personal finance website WalletHub.

The states with the three best school systems were Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut.

In identifying the states with the best and worst school systems for 2016, WalletHub looked at the key dimensions of “school-system quality” and “school-system safety,” and evaluated each according to 17 metrics. Among those metrics were such things as the dropout rate, math and reading scores, average ACT and SAT test scores, student-to-teacher ratio, number of incidents of bullying and disciplinary action, and youth incarceration rates.

Each of the metrics was graded on a scale from zero as worst to 100 as best.

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Of the 10 states with the highest rankings, all except Wisconsin and Minnesota are clustered along the East Coast. The 10 states that scored the worst were spread across the country from West Virginia to Oregon and from Alaska to Arizona.

Among WalletHub’s panel of experts who analyzed the study was William Coplin, director of the public affairs program at Syracuse University. According to Coplin, the top five indicators for best and worst schools are: rate of attendance and tardiness; percentage of students who have a viable career path after high school graduation; schools that are heavy on project learning and basic computer skills; students who graduate on time from post-secondary education; and percentage of school alums who are prepared for life after college.

In responding to the WalletHub survey, Robert McEntyre, a spokesman for the state Public Education Department, said PED’s goal is to provide every child a great education and help struggling students to learn.

“To do that, we have to reform a system that has failed our kids for decades. We’ve made progress – implemented an easy-to-understand school grading system, put more money into the classroom than ever before, and quadrupled our investment into pre-K. But there’s still more work to do. The bottom-line: We have to end the failed practice social promotion, which allows our children to go onto the next grade even when they cannot read.”

This latest WalletHub study comes on the heels of a WalletHub report released last week that ranked Albuquerque as the 15th best-run city. That survey said Albuquerque was being held back because of the large high school dropout rate experienced by the Albuquerque Public Schools. A spokeswoman for WalletHub said the dropout rate is tied to the city’s high crime rate and safety concerns pertaining property crimes, violent crimes and the number of fatalities per 100,000 residents.

In addition, she said, the dropout rate is a factor in the overall economy, affecting the unemployment rate, a household’s average annual income and the percentage of residents living below the federal poverty level.

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