The NMPED released the state's first A-F grades for our public schools, based largely on the Standards Based Assessment, as I understand.

How did your little one's school fare?

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I went to the New Mexico Public Education Department website to see the grade that my girlfriend's school received. (She's a teacher.) On the opening page of the website there is a photo of Hanna Skandera along with a message from her. I was appalled when I read the message because of the number of grammatical errors it contains. I counted between 12 and 15 of them. Skandera paints herself as a visionary of education reform who is here to save New Mexico's children. I might take this image of her a bit more seriously if she were actually able to compose a letter without so many basic errors. To post it on the opening page of the NMPED site is truly an embarrassment. Read it for yourself here: NMPED

Yeah, I noticed all the mistakes - thanks for pointing out the blurb she wrote.  She also is referring to herself as Secretary of Education, when she isn't - she still is the designate (since she doesn't have any teaching experience, the legislature won't confirm her.) 

That is why they won't confirm her?  Jeez, we have a president that doesn't have any experience doing anything yet he is our President.

The NM state constitution says the person must be a "qualified, experienced educator".  She's basically a policy wonk with experience gained under the Bush Bros in Florida and Texas, but no real teaching experience, unless you want to count 4 years of abstinenece education!! and a couple of semesters of being a TA at a college. 

(Hence the grading of schools - this is the first step to make the schools look scary - so people flee to private schools, supported by the state - and corporations can set up schools like University of Phoenix to accept students (and funds)). 

While I don't question that Hanna Skandera is unqualified, both my anecdotal evidence and research-based evidence suggests that the state of public education in New Mexico is really, really bad. I don't see how this is a ploy to scare people into choosing private schools...

Besides, the new grades given out are based on a bell curve, so many schools that are considered average by New Mexico standards (and are given a C in this report), would be considered failing under other, national standards.

from the law:

"In addition to any rights a parent may have pursuant to federal law, the parent of a student enrolled in a public school rated F for two of the last four years has the right to transfer the student in the same grade to any public school in the state not rated F or the right to have the student continue schooling by means of distance learning offered through the statewide cyber academy or a cyber academy currently offered and approved by any other state. The school district or charter school in which the student is enrolled is responsible for the cost of distance learning."

So, who do you think pays for that "Cyber-Academy"?  Rick Santorum got $10K from his Pennsylvania school district for each of his kids for enrolling them in a cyber academy in Virginia.... Sounds like a pretty good scam to me.  And there is no bell curve... 

Whoa, that is interesting...

There's currently a scam in Arizona regarding so called "cyber academies". A lot of taxpayer money is going to pay million dollar salaries for a whole lot of hot air that's not panning out for the students. 

The Standards-based Assessment that the state uses to grade schools is a based on state standards, not national standards.  New Mexico actually has relatively higher standards than other states.  This is one of the reason why so many schools are "failing" when it comes to these results.  Other states set lower standards and their schools look like they are high-performing. 

In addition, there are several other confounding variables that affect test scores.  One of the most significant being Special Education students.  Take schools like Montezuma and Mark Twain.  Both these elementary schools have specialized in serving Special Ed. students and they both received a "D" grade (and have a disproportionately higher number in their schools).  Ironically, special education students are expected to perform as well as regular ed students on this assessment.  It's kind of bizarre, that students are given a huge battery of tests to determine that they are learning disabled, then we turn around and expect them to perform equal to regular ed kids of these state assessments.  Does that make sense?

The obvious solution is to warehouse these special ed kids in  their own school, then take an "F" for that school.....   Or to flunk them out...  Or keep holding them back until they dropout (the Houston, Texas school system method of choice, btw....)

Amazingly enough, the schools in the areas with large incomes get "A's", and the ones in the poorer areas get "F's" - even though a large portion of the grading is weighed towards how much the lower 25% changes - the bell curve for the higher income kids is skewed higher already, versus the lower income kids - ie, the school should make much more of a difference for the lower income kid schools over the higher income schools. 

And, as far as the Cottonwood school goes - there's no graduating class so far -  so that shouldn't count in the grading - hence - an automatic "B".  (I'm sure its a good school, but they have to be graded the same as the others...)

your compassion for children with special education needs is overwhelming...

I was being facetious - I believe in mainstreaming these kids as best as possible.  However, when marginal schools are being graded, the above things do happen, and maybe also the tests get altered mysteriously...  (Atlanta?, DC?, Houston?, Michelle Rhee?)


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