Reading scores increase at Schools of Dreams Academy, math drops

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The School of Dreams Academy in Los Lunas saw an increase in reading proficiency from last year, according to the Standard Based Assessment results recently released by the New Mexico Public Education Department.

The School of Dreams Academy is a public charter school with grades seven to 12.

Not all students are given the annual SBA test, only third- through eighth-graders, sophomores and junior high school students are tested. Juniors must pass the SBA to graduate.

Statewide, New Mexico students are still only 50.6 percent at or above proficiency in reading, and 41.8 percent proficient in math.

The national goal is for all school districts in every state to be 100 percent proficient in reading and math by 2014. This goal was set by the No Child Left Behind Act that was signed into law by President Bush in 2001.

Averaging all tested students at SODA, the school is 48.7 percent at or above proficiency in reading. That's more than a 10 percent increase from last year's 38.3 percent.

Math proficiency grew from 23.3 percent at or above proficient last year to 26.7 percent proficient this year, a 3.4 percent growth.

The eighth-grade average for reading proficiency is 70.2 percent, up a percentage point from last year and 10 percent higher than the state's eighth-grade reading proficiency average.

Students at Valencia County's only charter school have made progress in math over the past two years when comparing results, said Mike Ogas, principal and co-founder of the school.

In 2011, math was at 20 percent proficient and grew to 23.3 percent in 2012. This year, it increased to 26.7 percent.

Reading proficiency went from 48.3 percent in 2011, and dipped to 38.3 percent in 2012, but rose this year to 48.7 percent.

"What our goal was is to begin to see an upward trend, and I think we're seeing that in our test scores," Ogas said. "We just need to keep on it. We saw a real positive growth in our language arts and reading area, and I'm hoping and looking for math to begin to follow suit."

He said staff are implementing a strong math intervention across the curriculum — embedding math into art when students are doing layouts for some of their architectural drawings, in robotics calibrating engine torque or calculating robot movements.

There are also plans to formulate daily math problems in advisory periods, and using students' individual learning plans to target students who need help, he said.

"We're going to make math a focal point of what we do, to try to get that up," Ogas said. "New Mexico has difficulty with math scores to begin with for some reason, and I'm not sure why, but we're going to do everything we can to break that."

For many students at SODA, this was their first standardized test, having come from being home-schooled.

The school is entering its fifth year since forming in 2008, and just beginning to be able to see trends in progress, which overall are consistently upward.

"Our scores are up from where they were. I'm pleased with them," Ogas said. "We still have a lot of work to do, but we're heading in the right direction."


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