County schools see minor improvements on PARCC
The majority of students in San Juan County are still not proficient in math and English, according to data from the New Mexico Public Education Department
FARMINGTON — While most San Juan County schools saw an incremental increase in their scores for the second year of a state-mandated exam, a majority of students are still not proficient in math and English, according to results from the state education department.
The New Mexico Public Education Department today released the results of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, exam in math and English for students in third through 11th grades for the 2015-2016 school year.
The exam was first administered in the 2014-2015 school year and replaced the New Mexico Standards Based Assessment.
Statewide, math and English scores increased slightly, state Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said in a conference call today.
In English, students in the state who met or exceeded proficiency increased from 26.4 percent in 2014-2015 to 27.7 percent in the last school year, according to data provided by the state education department.
The percentage of students statewide who met or exceed proficiency on the math exam increased from 17.4 percent to 19.9 percent.
Students are scored on a five-point scale to demonstrate their college and career readiness. A score of 4 or 5 shows students meet or exceed proficiency.
"We have a lot of work to do, but we are seeing progress," Skandera said in the conference call.
The highest individual PARCC exam score in San Juan County was on the 11th-grade English exam in the Aztec Municipal School District. A total of 49.7 percent of Aztec 11th graders who took the English exam met or exceeded proficiency.
The Bloomfield School District had the lowest individual exam score with a 1.2 percent proficiency on the eighth-grade math exam.
All four county school districts saw an overall increase in English and math exam scores, according to figures provided by state education department spokesman Robert McEntyre. Score increases ranged from a 3.9 percent increase in English scores in Aztec to a 34.6 percent increase in Aztec's math scores.
The Farmington Municipal School District saw the largest improvement in English exams. The district's English exam scores in the last school year showed that 36.33 percent of students were proficient, compared to 27.8 percent the previous year. The district also had the highest English score among the four local districts.
Aztec schools saw the largest increase in math exam scores. In 2014-2015, about 16 percent of Aztec students were proficient in math, and that number grew to 21.5 percent for 2015-2016.
Farmington schools had the highest math score among the four districts. The PARCC data found that last year about 24.2 percent of Farmington students were proficient in math.
Farmington schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt said he was optimistic about the district's improvement.
Farmington schools saw an improvement in 17 of the 18 math and English exams administered as part of the PARCC test, according to state education department data.
"My belief is that we are doing the right work," Schmidt said.
He said he was particularly proud of improvements on the English exams for students in third through fifth grades. Two years ago, 23.7 percent of fifth-grade students were proficient in English, and, last year, that increased to 38.6 percent.
Bloomfield's scores improved in 10 of the 18 PARCC exams, according to state education department data.
Superintendent Kim Mizell said the district’s proficiency rates are still not what administrators want to see.
"We have made incremental improvements, not significant enough to get excited about," Mizell said.
She said it was good to see students improve from a 1 or 2 score, but there are still many students who did not score at least a 4 to indicate proficiency.
"We have a lot of kids sitting in the (level) three area," Mizell said.
Both the Central Consolidated School District and Aztec schools saw improvements in 13 of the 18 exam scores, according to state education department data.
Aztec's overall performance was positive, said Superintendent Kirk Carpenter.
"What we need to do is look at all the bright spots, dig out the data and see what all the good things are," Carpenter said.
He said the district will keep an eye on English scores for students in sixth through eighth grades after exam scores showed drops in all three of those grades.
Carpenter said assessments the district conducts regularly tell district officials more about student performance than results from the PARCC exam.
"We’re talking about this assessment we gave back in April," he said, referring to the PARCC exam. "We can’t do much with the results."
CCSD spokesman James Preminger said in an email that the district declined comment on the results of the PARCC exam.
He said administrators are reviewing the data to prepare for a meeting with interim Superintendent Colleen Bowman on Friday.
Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.