FARMINGTON — With an eye for detail and a desire to advocate for kids, Stephanie Jaquez spent four days looking over approximately 300 questions that could help shape the future of assessments of K-12 students across the nation.

An English teacher at Farmington High School, Jaquez traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to help develop and review test items for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

The partnership is one of two organizations working to develop assessments for the transition to the "Common Core Standards," an effort to establish a single set of standards for English, language arts and mathematics that states can adopt. New Mexico plans to use the assessment starting in the 2014-2015 school year. However, participation is voluntary.

In a media release, the partnership is described as a "consortium of 23 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math anchored in what it takes to be ready for college and careers."

Jaquez said she was excited to work on a test that would be administered nationwide, potentially allowing states to better compare assessment scores and make improvements.

"In the past, we've always had our own state standards, our own test," Jaquez said. "We all seem to be going on our own different paths and for the first time in educational history, we will be down the same road with the same path and hopefully, the same outcomes.


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Jaquez is serving on the English and language arts "Bias and Sensitivity" committee, where she is inspecting questions which could be placed on the test and looking out for "Distracters."

"I was looking at questions and making sure they are not taken offensively by race, gender, ethnicity, language, religion, socioeconomic state, disability or geographic region," Jaquez said. "If a student reads the question and goes "Oh my gosh, that question implied Mexicans were not trustworthy,' that's a distracter.

"If a student takes a test, there should not be any emotion attached to it," she said. "It should be non-emotional, it can take away from the productiveness of the test."

Jaquez said what she loved about working on the test was seeing how students will be evaluated beyond just reading a passage of text and answering a multiple choice question.

"They'll read two to three passages and have to justify, compare and analyze (the text)," Jaquez said. "(They'll) look at these things on a college level. They'll read several different sources and look at what the authors intent is, how they (the sources) work for or against each other."

The progressive style of the proposed test is similar to Jaquez's approach with students and teaching.

"(It's) not just reading something and understanding what it says but why," she said. "That is the level we want our kids to be at."