Belen students’ scores up and down

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Results from the New Mexico Standards Based Assessment revealed Belen schools bounced up and down when it came to their math and reading scores in the state-mandated exam.

When comparing reading and math SBA scores from 2011-12 to 2012-13, Belen schools illustrated a trend of improving math scores, but declining scores in reading.

The results from the New Mexico Standard Based assessment, taken earlier this year, were released by Gov. Susana Martinez’s office at the end of June.

Throughout the state, proficiency levels rose across all grade levels from 2012 to 2013. Rates increased to 42 percent in math and to 50.6 percent in reading. These increases translate into about 4,000 New Mexico students reading at their grade level, with gains made by those in high school and third grade.

“We have a very long way to go to reform education in New Mexico in a way that yields sustained and significant gains in reading across the board for our students,” Martinez said in a news release.

While a few Belen schools scored above their statewide peers in reading and math, seven schools scored below those same peers.

Overall, La Promesa Elementary School, Gil Sanchez Elementary School and Rio Grande Elementary School increased their percentage of students who ranked proficient and above. But Belen Family School, Central Elementary School and La Merced Elementary School showed a decrease in the percentage of students who ranked proficient and above.

However, Belen Family School continues to score above statewide averages in reading and math.

Seven Belen schools, including Infinity High School, La Promesa Elementary School, Belen High School, Central Elementary School, Rio Grande Elementary School, Henry T. Jaramillo Community School and Dennis Chavez Elementary School, scored below statewide averages overall in these two categories.

The New Mexico Standards Based Assessment, taken by students from third to eighth grade, 10th and 11th grade, is intended to illustrate a child’s status in meeting grade-specific state standards.

Elementary and middle school students are tested on reading, math, science and writing while high school students are tested in reading, math and science.

High school seniors use the SBA as a high school exit exam to receive their diplomas.

Gil Sanchez Elementary School principal John Caldarera said overall the elementary school performed well, but the school’s fifth-grade class shined by receiving the highest scores for their grade in the district.

Although he is yet to compare these scores with previous years to uncover what teaching areas need improving, Caldarera said he thinks these scores will have a positive impact on the schools’ overall grade given by the state.

“Our grade should go up. We had a B two years ago and last year we had a C and, hopefully, we’ll go back up to a B this year,” he said.

Standardized test scores, along with data of academic growth, attendance, improvement of the highest and lowest performing students and college and career readiness, are used to calculate annual school grades through New Mexico’s A-F School Grading System.

Belen High School principal Rodney Wright said the high school still has work to do to increase proficiency levels.

School officials said they couldn’t comment on the results until they consulted with the superintendent.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.