- Submitted by DPS
You have probably seen the state’s grades for local schools and might be disappointed with what you have seen. Since the state calculates the school grades using an extremely complex formula that even predicts students’ three year performance with statewide averages that it does not disclose, Deming Public Schools thought it would be useful to present raw test score data to the public so parents can make up their own minds on student progress.
The school grades released last Thursday by the state presents a dismal picture of most local schools, particularly elementary schools, but looking at 2012-2013 New Mexico Standards Based Assessment test scores provides a better picture of progress made by students and areas where work is still needed. Looking at the data gives a picture of where growth or lack of growth took place this past year. The school grades reflect an average of three years of student test results. So if there is one year out of the three that is very low, then the average is lower than the current year’s results. If you want to know if there was an improvement in student achievement this past year, then the raw test data will pinpoint the areas of interest. “Deming Public Schools was disappointed to see the number of our schools receiving an F grade drop from two to four, but we feel looking at raw test data can provide a better idea of our strengths and weaknesses,” Harvielee Moore, DPS Superintendent, said. “For example, Bell Elementary, which has a poverty rate of about 95 percent for its students, fell from a D to a F. But reading scores increased in third, fourth and fifth grades from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013. Math scores also increased for fourth and fifth grades.”
Bell started the 2012-2013 school year with five new teachers, but students were still able to make increases in reading and Math. For example, approximately 26 percent of fifth grade students tested to proficiency in reading in fifth grade, which was a seven percent increase over the previous fifth grade class. Those same students increased proficiency about six percent over their test scores from fourth grade in reading.
For math, the same group of fifth graders tested to proficiency about 10 percent higher than the previous school year’s (20112012) fifth grade students.
At Deming High School, which jumped from a D to a B, the recent senior junior class saw an increase of about 15 percentage points in reading proficiency from their junior sophomore year. In Math, the same class nearly doubled in proficiency to 30 percent. School administrators credit a variety of programs for the increase in test scores, especially the extra hours logged by teachers and counselors to help students catch up or get ahead.
But the district is not trying to sugar coat the results from across the district. There are several areas, mostly in elementary schools — similar to the statewide trend — where students are not making progress. The recent fifth grade class at Chaparral Elementary, for example, dropped about seven percentage points in Math proficiency from when they attended fourth grade. But the same class saw about a four percent increase in reading scores.
The NMSBA test scores over the last three years present a mixed bag of results for the district, and administrators and the Deming Public Schools Board are currently reviewing the data and assessing shown strengths and weaknesses. The district is evaluating what programs have worked over the past several school years, and which programs have not created the progress desired by parents, administrators, teachers and students. The district is seeing success in programs such as:
● K3 Plus Program is available at all elementary schools. Students in grades kindergarten
through third grade have the opportunity to attend an additional twentyfive days of school each year.
● PreKindergarten has been available at My Little School for a targeted students for many years. In addition PreK is available at Bell Elementary and Columbus Elementary, the District’s two highest economically disadvantaged schools.
● Classroom intervention is targeted to meet individual student needs based upon assessment data. Additional intervention is available through interventionists at some schools to help students who are behind in reading or math.
● Dual Language Program in the district’s Bilingual Program aligns with research that demonstrates that students who are proficient in their home language will acquire a second language to a more complex level.
● All schools are focusing on the importance of relationships between teachers, parents, and students. Once teachers understand their students then they can make information relevant and raise the rigor of the learning.
The district values accountability and measuring student progress, but it feels labeling schools with grade scores without fully explaining the process behind calculating the grades can be counterproductive. Deming Public Schools will continue assessing student needs and proficiency data to work toward high achievement across the board.
If you have comments, concerns or questions, please contact the district at (575) 546-8841.
Thursday morning Harvielee Moore, DPS Superintendent spoke with John Krehbiel on KOTS/KDEM radio.