LL schools' grades range from B's to D's

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Los Lunas Schools had a mixed bag of grades this year, with a few remarkable rises while others fell back a grade. The New Mexico Public Education Department released the grades last week.

The most impressive gains were at the high school level.

"Your high schools are kind of your flagships of the school district," said Superintendent Bernard Saiz. "And I think they're moving in the right direction, which really makes me happy."

Los Lunas High School had a D last year, but rose to a B this year. Valencia High School had a C last year, and increased the grade to a B, and Century High School went from a D to a C.

Tomé and Katherine Gallegos elementary schools both went from C's to B's, and Ann Parish Elementary's grade remained a D, but the school's score was higher this year, although it wasn't high enough to bump them to a C, said Saiz.

None of the schools received an A or an F. Four schools have B's, five have C's and seven D's. All the schools have passing grades, but seven schools dropped a grade.

Sundance Elementary had a B last year, but received a C this year. The school was close to making a B, and the district will probably appeal that grade, said Saiz.

Both Sundance and Bosque Farms elementary schools started out with A's in the preliminary grading last year, but Bosque Farms received a final B grade and went down to a C this year.

"I was pretty disappointed about how the elementary schools grades turned out," Saiz said "In fact, some of our highest performing elementary schools dropped one or two grades, so overall I would like to see things improve quite a bit."

School officials are investigating what happened at the schools that have dropped in grades.

"I think higher enrollment has a lot to do with the shifts in grades," the superintendent said.

At Bosque Farms, the curriculum and the teaching staff remained the same, but looking at the patterns created by scores as they are charted over the years, fluctuations can be seen in grades going up and down.

For example, Tomé's preliminary grade was a B, but the final grade received was a C, and now it is up to a B again, he said.

"It's going to be that way," said Saiz. "You're never going to get a steady upward climb. There's going to be ups and downs, and ups and downs, but when you look at your overall baseline, and your trend data, if you have an upward climb then you're doing well."

It has only been two years since this grading system was implemented, so it's still too early for a completely accurate assessment. But next year, if a school continues to drop, then we've got a problem, he said.

The new New Mexico grading system replaces the Average Yearly Progress federal ratings system. There are a number of components in the grading evaluation system with different categories and a point system for each. There is also a measurement for schools in low socioeconomic areas.

Part of the evaluation looks at the growth of the lowest and highest performing students, as well as whether a school met proficiency or not, its attendance records, and college and career readiness.

"Once we get enough data collected and we can see a trend, then we can determine whether we are being successful or not," Saiz said.


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