Los Lunas elementary school students increase MAP test scores

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Every school in Los Lunas made progress in reading and math skills, according to test scores from Measures of Academic Progress, a short-assessment cycle testing the district has used for the past eight years. Tests are given in the fall, winter and spring.

The rise in student test scores successfully completes the annual goal set last summer by Superintendent Bernard Saiz and the Los Lunas Board of Education.

The MAP examination is a norms test given to roughly 20 million students nationwide, and is aligned to national and state curricula and standards, said Assistant Superintendent Ron Williams.

He reported the 2012-13 MAP test results at a recent board meeting.

The test results provide a range of benchmarks to give educators an idea how their students are comparing with other students throughout the United States.

Principals and other school officials can see by the range of scores if they have students below the expected norms. That's how they measure the growth toward academic proficiency, Williams said.

Not all the Los Lunas schools reached the national average, but most met expected growth, Williams said.

"That's one of our goals with the work that we're doing, focusing our interventions on those students that might be one grade level below or more than one grade level below," he said.

Test scores increased by points in both reading and math at each school in the district except Los Lunas High School.

The high school scores increased by less than one point, while Century and Valencia high schools increased by more than three points.

School officials attributed Los Lunas High School's modest progress to the chaos of rebuilding the school during classes, and praised the students' performance under distracting conditions.

The high school has made five- to six-point gains from the fall of 2011 to the fall of 2012, Williams said.

The academic gains were highest in the elementary schools, but they decline at the middle and high school levels.

Some of the most encouraging gains came from the middle schools, said Williams.

Los Lunas Middle School increased more than six points in math, and nearly five points in reading.

Williams believes the professional learning communities helped teachers become more effective in reaching students who had difficulty grasping certain concepts.

The teachers meet with other teachers in the same grade level and compare notes, student performance and teaching methods.

If one teacher's students are particularly successful in fractions while another teacher's students are not, she can learn what method the teacher with greater success is using.

The largest gains were made in the elementary schools. Bosque Farms, Tomé and Valencia elementary schools' math test scores increased by more than 15 points.

Los Lunas, Raymond Gabaldon and Valencia elementary schools showed more than an 11-point climb in reading scores, over the national expected growth benchmark.

The tests keep educators and students aware of academic progress or the lack of it, and add to a students' preparation for the annual Standard Based Assessment test, Williams said.

"When our kids take the MAP test, they are competing against kids across the nation that also take the MAP test, so these scores we're receiving are not just how they're doing locally, or within the state, but how our kids are ranking across the nation," Saiz said. "It's a real good measure of academic progress."

He attributed the district's progress to the hard work of the principals and teachers at the schools.

"I was pretty pleased with the results," the superintendent said.


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