Four Belen schools increased its grades

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The school grades for the Belen Consolidated Schools are in, and this year, the district’s report card saw an rise in the number of schools that increased its grades through New Mexico’s A-F School Grading System.

All in all, the district walked away with two B’s, five C’s, three D’s and one F. The New Mexico Public Education Department office released the school grades last week.

Administrators are now busy pouring through the mounds of paperwork explaining each of the school’s letter grades.

“It’s always our goal to improve our schools, to improve our instruction, to improve what we are able to provide for our kids and this is just a tool to help us get there,” said Jennifer Brown, the district’s human resources director.

The data wrapped into these letter grades can pinpoint areas needing improvement within the schools, said Geneva Nixon, the district’s director of instruction and curriculum.

“This is an opportunity to continue to help our students excel,” Nixon said.

Of the 11 schools in Belen, Dennis Chavez Elementary, La Merced Elementary, Belen High School and Infinity High School improved by one grade level, compared to last year’s grades.

Central Elementary, Belen Family School, Henry T. Jaramillo Community School and Belen Middle School went down a grade.

Gil Sanchez Elementary, La Promesa Elementary and Rio Grande Elementary maintained their grades from last year.

Belen schools consistently received high marks in the opportunity to learn section, which delves into if the school fosters an environment that facilitates learning, if students want to attend school and if teachers are using instructional methods.

However, the school growth section received low marks across the board. This section searches for an increase when comparing the current year’s performance at a specific grade level to the previous years.

Belen and Infinity’s report cards had low scores in the school’s contribution to students graduating within four years, but high scores in aiding individuals within the highest and lowest performing students to improve.

School grades are based upon three years worth of data from academic growth, attendance, improvement of the highest and lowest performing students, standardized test scores, graduating within four years from high school and college and career readiness.

Also calculated into the grades was up to 10 points for the Opportunity to Learn survey, where students measure their classroom satisfaction, and five bonus points for schools demonstrating how they involve students and parents in education, decreasing truancy and encourage extracurricular activity involvement.

This state-specific approach “provides better information” about the level of school performance, the governor’s office press release states.

The data behind the school grades will be paired up with student, classroom and school data to create a picture of problem areas. Principles will analyze this information using data-driven instruction method, which will be implemented for the first time since they trained on the topic in early June.

“This is going to be their first assignment,” Nixon said. “What is the data telling us?”

The school grades, which were expected to be released in August, came out early enough so Belen administrators can make necessary changes in instructional plans when school starts, Brown said.

2012-13 School Grades

Los Lunas Schools
Bosque Farms Elementary    C
Sundance Elementary        C
Peralta Elementary        C
Raymond Gabaldon Elementary    D
Valencia Elementary        D
Tomé Elementary        B
Desert View Elementary        D
Katherine Gallegos Elementary    B
Los Lunas Elementary        D
Ann Parish Elementary        D
Los Lunas Family School     C
Los Lunas Middle School    D
Valencia Middle School        D
Los Lunas High School        B
Valencia High School        B
Century High School        C

Belen Schools
Central Elementary         F
Dennis Chavez Elementary     C
Gil Sanchez Elementary         C
Jaramillo Community School     D
La Merced Elementary         C
La Promesa Elementary         D
Rio Grande Elementary         D
Belen Family School         B
Belen Middle School         C
Belen High School         B
Infinity High School         C
School of Dreams Academy     A

(Source: New Mexico Public Education Department)


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