NM sees lag in student assessment data

Students at their desks at Pinon Elementary School in September 2021. (Eddie Moore/ Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

With students largely stuck behind computer screens during the COVID-19 pandemic, standardized testing in New Mexico has understandably taken a hit.

Although children are back in classrooms, the state likely won’t be able to say how they are doing until next school year.

At a Legislative Finance Committee meeting in mid-May, New Mexico Department of Public Education officials said data for the SAT, the standardized test for juniors, will be available in August. But data from the final assessments of the measures of student achievement and achievement, the grades three through eight tests for reading and math, will not be available until November. Testing for both ended in May.

The delays are only expected for this year, said Lynn Vasquez, director of the assessment and learning management system. That’s because the MSSA tests are new, according to the PED, which means the state needs to determine new skill levels.

Next spring, reports should be available about 10 days after the testing windows close in mid to late May, the PED said.

Still, several state lawmakers have questioned this year’s timeline on assessment results, pointing out that a new school year will have begun by the time the results are known.

“I’m curious why it will take us six months to recover the data,” said Rep. Meredith Dixon, D-Albuquerque. “It feels like a long time, not only to get the data back, but then it makes it difficult for us to plan ahead for the budget of things that would potentially need to be changed.”

New Mexico Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus acknowledged that the turnaround time was “just not acceptable.” He added that this could be an issue to address in negotiations with Cognia, Inc., which processes the assessment results. This contract expires in 2024, according to the PED.

However, students were tested at different times of the year. And according to interim assessment data for the 2022 school year, student performance this year has been a bit mixed.

Kindergarten through second graders, all of whom passed the intermediate “Istation” tests, have the worst.

Reading at their grade level at the start of the school year was 24%, up from 31% at this time the year before, according to preliminary data from Istation tests. This number increased slightly to 25% halfway through the year, compared to 37% who were reading at grade level in the middle of the 2021 school year.

Students identifying as Native American and Alaska Native were at 26% in mid-2022, up from 43% in mid-2021.

Special education students in these classes went from 54% proficiency in the middle of the 2021 school year to 36% in the middle of 2022. The proficiency rates for English language learners were the same.

Provisional data for students in grades three through eight was not as complete. It was based on the 38% of students who took the intermediate MSSA tests.

The percentage of students in grades three through eight who were “on target” in reading and math for the 2022 school year started 5 percentage points below the previous year’s figures, preliminary data shows. of the MSSA.

But by the end of the year, the percentage of students on target for reading was comparable to 2021 at 54%, and math scores had risen above previous levels of 19% in 2021 to around 22% students.

According to the MSSA’s interim report, the number of students identifying as Native American and Alaska Native, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students who were proficient hovered around 30% in the middle of the 2021 school year.

For Hispanic students and economically disadvantaged students, those numbers increased to 34% by mid-2022. Native American and Alaska Native students remained at 29%.

Steinhaus noted that not all districts use the same intermediate tests; many use alternative tests to MSSA tests.

“In an ideal world, I think we would all prefer it to be the same test,” Steinhaus said.

However, all students take the same MSSA tests at the end of the year.

Testing was scrapped in 2020, according to the PED, due to the pandemic. It came after Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham canceled the state’s previous testing system in favor of the current MSSA tests, which were due to roll out this spring. In 2021, the state allowed testing to be voluntary.