LL Schools grades better


In the state's A-F grading system, seven out of 16 Los Lunas Schools went up a grade or more this year, plus the district has the only A-graded school in Valencia County.

School grades were recently released by the New Mexico Public Education Department.

"The school grades improved significantly," said Dana Sanders, Los Lunas Schools' interim superintendent. "Valencia Elementary went up two grades."

The seven schools that went up a grade are all elementary schools.

Along with Valencia's jump to a B, the other six schools include Katherine Gallegos that went from a B to an A, Bosque Farms that received a B, Peralta earned a B, Los Lunas received a C, Raymond Gabaldon a C and Sundance got a B. Tomé Elementary held onto its B grade from last year.

Ann Parish and Desert View elementary schools both stayed at Ds, but if you look at their category scoring, Desert View surpassed the state benchmark for increased performance of the lowest and highest performing students.

Ann Parish surpassed the state average in providing an environment that fosters learning, and the performance of its lowest performing students met the state expectation for improvement.

"But what's interesting is, if you look at their grade and break it down, they went up significantly in their lowest performing students by two grade levels," said Sanders.

Ann Parish Elementary is one of the schools in the University of Virginia school turn-around program, so it is surprising the school didn't make greater gains, but Ron Williams, assistant principal of curriculum, explained that there was one grade level that really hurt them.

"We still have work to do out there," Williams said.

Valencia and Los Lunas middle schools remained at D grades from last year, but Sanders said both schools surpassed the state benchmark for increasing grade level performance. In other words, this year's third-graders improved over last year's third-graders. Both middles schools received a B grade in this category.

Valencia Middle School's highest-performing students beat the state benchmark in performance. Both middle schools also beat the benchmark in providing a learning environment.

High schools have two additional categories: graduation rate and college and career readiness.

Valencia High School held onto its B, and Century kept its C, but Los Lunas High School slipped down a grade from a B to a C.

The school missed a B by less than two points, and it surpassed the state benchmark in both the highest and lowest student performance increases.

"They had some pretty strong jumps in their test scores from last year to this year; they improved over 6 percent in math, and they improved 2 percent in their reading," he said. "Part of what's hurting them is they're not hitting their intended grade-level targets."

LLHS is also in the school turn-around program, and their lowest-performing students surpassed the state benchmark, receiving an A in this category.

"They're moving their kids along, they just haven't reached the target that is set by the state for them," Sanders said.

In fact, both LLHS and VHS surpassed the state in lowest and highest-performing students and beat the benchmark in college and career readiness.

The district's goal is to get all the highest- and lowest-performing students moving in the same direction, increasing in their performance, said Filipé Armijo, director of personnel.

"But some years you have a push that happens and you get better performance out of your lowest performing students, or your highest performing.

"Everybody will look at the grade. That was why the system was set up, so you could see a grade," Armijo said.

"But they don't see what made up that (grade)," Sanders added. "There was significant progress for this particular group of kids."

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