School grades up, down for San Juan County schools

The state education department released school grades Friday

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
Koogler Middle School social studies teacher Gary Zuniga talks with his students, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018 in Aztec.
  • San Juan College High School in Farmington has the distinction of being one of the five highest performing schools in the state.
  • Koogler Middle School in Aztec and Nizhoni Elementary School in Shiprock improved their school grades from a F to a B.
  • 10 of the 19 Farmington schools had A or B letter grades this year.

FARMINGTON — Some San Juan County schools have seen large improvements in their state rankings while area superintendents are looking to support under-performing schools.

The New Mexico Public Education Department released the 2018 school grades for the state public schools Friday afternoon on the PED's website.

The letter grade scores are determined by a number of categories, including school growth, proficiency levels, graduation rates and growth in the highest- and lowest-performing students.

New Mexico Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski told reporters in a conference call it's the seventh year for the school grade system.

He also stated as expectations rise, it has become harder for schools to earn or maintain an A letter grade.

There were several county schools highlighted by Ruszkowski during the conference call.

Koogler Middle School in Aztec and Nizhoni Elementary School in Shiprock were a couple of the schools statewide which jumped up three letter grades from an F to a B letter grade, Ruszkowski said.

He noted no schools in the Bloomfield School District saw their grade score decline.

San Juan College High School in Farmington has the distinction of being one of the five highest performing schools in the state.

Science teacher Kelley Day, center, talks with students on their first day, Aug. 13, 2018 at Koogler Middle School in Aztec.

Aztec Schools

Aztec Superintendent Kirk Carpenter was also happy and proud of the results Koogler had produced after having a F letter grade for 2016 and 2017.

He said it was amazing for Aztec High School staff and students to improve its letter grade from a D to C as they dealt with a lot of teacher turnover and the Dec. 7 shooting.

"We're going to take the results and dig into them," Carpenter said.

Park Avenue was the only school in the Aztec Municipal School District which had a decline in school grades, going from a C to a D this year.

The district did not have any F letter grades but it also did not have any A letter grades.

Bloomfield Schools

The Bloomfield School District is starting to see the work started three years ago on data-driven instruction show results, Bloomfield Superintendent Kim Mizell said.

Mizell highlighted the performances at the Bloomfield Early Childhood Center, which improved from a B to an A letter grade and Blanco Elementary School's two letter grade improvement from a D to an B.

"I'm just happy about the progress we are making," Mizell said.

Both Charlie Y. Brown Alternative School and Central Primary Elementary School raised their grades from a F to a C.

Mizell stated Bloomfield High School was about one point short of earning a B score, and other schools were just short of earning a higher school grade.

Central Schools

More than half of the 14 schools in the Central Consolidated School District improved at least by one letter grade, according to a statement CCSD issued.

Mesa Elementary and Shiprock High School increased by two letter grades as they went from a D to a B letter grade.

“We celebrate these results with all of our students’ families, and the community, the support they provide for their children is reflected in this achievement,” CCSD interim Superintendent Terrian Benn said in the statement.

Ruszkowski noted it was the third year for Judy Nelson Elementary School to earn an A letter grade and for Eva B. Stokely Elementary School to earn a B letter grade.

It was the fourth straight year for Newcomb Middle School to earn an F letter grade; Ruszkowski described it as a school of concern.

Farmington Schools

The Farmington Municipal School District had the most A letter grade schools in the county with four as 10 of the 19 schools had A or B letter grades, according to Farmington Superintendent Gene Schmidt.

Farmington schools also saw eight schools' letter grades decrease from last year.  

Both Mesa Verde and Country Club elementary schools have earned an A letter grade for the fourth straight year.

Schmidt said the district's performance is a reflection of its academic efforts across the district by teachers and principals.

Two Farmington schools – Apache Elementary and Mesa View Middle schools – both dropped to a D letter grade.

Farmington schools central office leadership is planning on meeting with staff at the schools to determine what additional instructional support is needed.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at