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The debate on the merits of testing children, utilizing formative (how are they doing) and summative (how they did) assessments, is ongoing in both Los Alamos and in the U.S. at large. Readers are aware that Los Alamos Public Schools is federally mandated to test students annually from grades 3 to 8 in reading and math, tested twice in the elementary grades in science, and then in reading, math and science at least once in grades 10-12. Similarly, New Mexico requires standards based assessment for grade 3- 8 but adds 9th and 11th as well. A new 11th grade New Mexico graduation competency exam in mathematics, reading, language arts, science, writing, social studies will be issued to 11th grade students in the spring of 2011.
New Mexico does not require that students in grades K-2 be tested. Nevertheless, there are appropriate times when testing primary grade students help educators determine students’ growth in basic reading and math skills. In general most educators see the value in these assessments as an opportunity to catch academic of learning problems early and, thereby, more readily “nipping them in the bud.” Testing early also helps educators identify students who may benefit from enrichment opportunities or identify students who are ready to learn academic skills beyond their age group.
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