Martinez signs school grading system legislation

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By The Staff

Los Alamos School Superintendent Eugene Schmidt finds Gov. Susana Martinez’s latest education legislation to be “intriguing.”
On Tuesday, Martinez signed Senate Bill 427 into law, creating an A-F school grading system for New Mexico’s schools.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Vernon Asbill (R-Carlsbad) and Rep. Dennis Roch (R-Texico) received bipartisan support throughout the legislative process.
“I had the opportunity to speak with Senator Asbill during the legislative session. In addition, several school board members and members of my administrative team met with Secretary of Education Skandera to discuss this bill while session was ongoing,” Schmidt said.
“I came away impressed with the concept. I foresee a rubric scale easier to understand than the current federal AYP status that assesses schools as either meeting or not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress.The federal rubric has become meaningless in the eyes of the public.  Thus, this new idea will help people focus on what is going right or wrong in a school.”
Martinez signed the bill and was joined at the ceremony by  Asbill, Public Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera, Moriarty-Edgewood School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Couch, and other state and local officials at Route 66 Elementary School in Edgewood.
“The first step to ensuring every student has access to a quality education is establishing a strong foundation of accountability and transparency,”  Martinez said.
“This common-sense reform is a victory for all of us who believe that parents, students, and community members have a right to know how their schools are performing. Assigning a simple letter grade to New Mexico’s schools provides a clear picture of which ones are succeeding, which ones are failing and how we can best target resources to the schools and students most in need of help.”
To increase accountability and transparency in New Mexico schools, the “Real Accountability, Real Results” initiative originally proposed by Governor Martinez adopts an easy-to-understand, easy-to-implement system of grading schools, using the traditional school grading format of A-F.
“In addition,” Schmidt said. “Letter grades are something that we grew up with and understand. If one gets a “C” grade, under this new system we will understand why and what we can do to improve.”
Schmidt said he will be interested in learning more about how the governor plans to help struggling schools and in the options that parents will have in the new system.
 “Interestingly, our goals match up,” Schmidt said. “Just as Los Alamos seeks to provide a world-class education, so does the Governor for the state.”
Schools that earn an “A” or improve a letter grade will be recognized for excellence or progress, creating an incentive for improvement in student learning. Students in failing schools will receive targeted assistance.
Under federal law, meaningful intervention for failing schools can sometimes be a five-year process. The new law calls for immediate intervention after two years for schools that have earned an “F” by targeting resources to improve these schools, helping struggling students and giving parents more options.
“Across the state, there are schools that are delivering real results for their students. We must do our best to identify and replicate these successes wherever and whenever possible,” Martinez said.
“I thank Sen. Asbill and Rep. Roch for their hard work in passing this important legislation and I am grateful for the educators, administrators, and lawmakers across New Mexico who have demonstrated their support for meaningful education reform. I am proud to sign this bill into law, taking the important first step toward turning New Mexico’s schools around and ensuring we provide a world-class education for every single child in our state.”