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Time to Dump New Mexico Student PARCC Tests?

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New Mexico students are required to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests, but there's concern about whether the results truly reflect a school's quality. (The Inspired Classroom)
New Mexico students are required to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests, but there's concern about whether the results truly reflect a school's quality. (The Inspired Classroom)
 By Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM - Producer, Contact
August 24, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. – The head of New Mexico's teachers' union says the growing divide among public schools getting 'A' grades and those getting 'F's' on assessment tests is a sign the testing system doesn't work.

New Mexico is one of nine states that still use the controversial PARCC tests - Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. That's down from 20 states seven years ago.

Betty Patterson, state president of the National Education Association chapter, says when nearly half of Santa Fe schools are getting 'D's' and 'F's,' the test itself may be the problem.

"We don't think this is the right system," she says. "And a lot of states who've gone to grading schools, gone to the evaluation like ours, have already given it up and they're not doing it anymore."

This is only the second time all students in New Mexico have taken the standardized tests. State education officials say in the future, they'll focus on improving results in the two dozen schools around the state that have consistently received bad grades since the program was introduced in 2012.

The number of schools in New Mexico earning 'A's' and 'B's' remained unchanged at 38 percent last year, but more schools received failing grades. New Mexico has one of the highest educational achievement gaps between whites and minorities, but Patterson says all students might do better on the PARCC tests if schools received more support from the state.

"And now, we're loading classrooms up as much as we can, bigger and bigger classes, and that's not going to solve our problem at all," she warns.

Colorado announced in June that it would begin shifting away from PARCC, toward tests that are developed mostly by Colorado educators.

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