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HomeNewsNew Mexico Public Education Overhauls School Calendar with 180-Day Rule, Allowing Exemptions

New Mexico Public Education Overhauls School Calendar with 180-Day Rule, Allowing Exemptions

The New Mexico Public Education Department is planning to implement a rule requiring all schools to meet a 180-day instructional minimum from the 2024-2025 academic year, with provisions for exemptions based on public feedback and academic performance, particularly in reading and language arts. This adjustment, spurred by disparities in school schedules and the enactment of House Bill 130, seeks to standardize instructional time across the state and improve student outcomes, accommodating four-day school weeks and offering exemptions for schools demonstrating significant academic growth.

The New Mexico Public Education Department has finalized a rule change that mandates a minimum of 180 instructional days for all schools starting in the 2024-2025 academic year, while introducing exemptions that allow for flexibility based on public feedback and performance metrics. The rule is expected to be submitted for adoption on March 14.

This rule change comes after the passage of House Bill 130 during the 2023 Legislative Session, which initially sought to increase instructional time.

According to PED Secretary Arsenio Romero, this policy adjustment aims to standardize instructional time across the state, responding to the disparities revealed in school schedules, with the goal of enhancing student outcomes. The rule change comes after Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 171 which overhauled graduation requirements for students beginning high school in the 2024-2025 academic year.

“This is about doing what’s right for kids, even if it’s hard,” Romero said.

Under the new rule, accommodations are made for four-day school week calendars, recognizing the unique circumstances of some districts and charter schools. Romero said early college high schools are exempt from this requirement, acknowledging their specialized curriculum that often goes beyond standard high school education.

The amended rule features exemptions based on academic growth in reading and language arts. Schools can qualify for these exemptions if they demonstrate substantial improvement in these areas, as determined by the PED, based on proficiency rates and growth metrics from the previous academic years.

  • School districts or charter schools with a proficiency rate in reading and language arts below 45 percent will be required to show a minimum improvement of 15 percentage points in these subjects to qualify for exemptions under the new guidelines.
  • School districts or charter schools with a reading and language arts proficiency rate of 45 percent or more but less than 65 percent, will be required to increase scores at least 10 percentage points in achievement within these subjects to qualify for an exemption.
  • School districts or charter schools that have a proficiency rate in reading and language arts of 65 percent or higher but below 80 percent are required to achieve a minimum growth of eight percentage points in these subjects to qualify for exemptions under the new guidelines.
  • Should a school district or charter school attain a proficiency rate of 80 percent or higher in reading and language arts, it will qualify for an exemption from the 180 instructional-day mandate, irrespective of any further growth in these metrics.

Romero said this rule allows local communities to retain control of their school calendars.

The rule also sets a minimum daily attendance requirement for high school students. Students must participate in at least 3.5 hours of instructional activities each day. This requirement can be met outside of traditional class periods if students engage in equivalent educational or vocational experiences, such as apprenticeships, work-study programs, dual-credit courses, employment, community service, or related activities.

The decision has not been without controversy. Critics, including Albuquerque Federation of Teachers President Dr. Ellen Bernstein, who argued during public comment in December, that the change might be a “false solution” to more complex educational problems, suggesting a need for more holistic approaches that address issues like attendance, counseling, and the overall welfare of students and educators.

Despite opposition, the PED remains firm on its stance, pointing to the low proficiency rates among students in New Mexico as a driving force behind the need for increased instructional time. Within his remarks, Romero stated his belief that this rule change, alongside other initiatives, will help in addressing chronic absenteeism, improving literacy, and providing high-quality instructional materials to students.

As the state prepares for the implementation of this rule in the 2024-2025 school year, discussions continue around the balance between standardizing educational requirements and maintaining flexibility to meet local needs.

In a press conference on March 7, where the full leadership team at PED was present, Romero explained that “this is a win-win for everybody. It provides additional learning time for our students but also allows for additional compensation to our teachers.” He argued this rule change will bolster local gross receipts taxes, and “there is a win-win-win for everyone in this.”

Romero highlighted the importance of quality instructional time in addressing the educational challenges within the state. “We are moving forward because it is what’s best for students,” Romero said, “We must improve student outcomes across the state, our students deserve better, and that begins with quality instructional time in the classroom. We know that this will be a key to turning the tide on academic performance in the state.”

Schools Below 180 Instructional Days in the 2023-2024 School Year

In the current academic year, 35 of 89 school districts have less than 180 instructional days. Of the 100 charter schools in the state, 28 have less than 180 instructional days.

The following are all the school districts with less than 180 days:

  • Animas – 154 days for elementary, 150 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Capitan – 146 days for elementary, 145 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Carlsbad – 178 days (5-day)
  • Carrizozo – 147 days for elementary, 149 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Chama – 173 days for elementary, 169 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Cimmaron – 150 days (4-day)
  • Clayton – 171 days (5-day)
  • Cloudcroft – 150 days (4-day)
  • Clovis – 174 days for elementary, 171 days for middle and high school (5-day)
  • Cobre Consolidated Schools – 168 days for elementary, 171 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Corona – 156 days (4-day)
  • Des Moines – 175 days (5-day)
  • Dora – 150 days (4-day)
  • Elida – 155 days for elementary, 152 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Espanola – 179 days (5-days)
  • Estancia – 178 days (5-day)
  • Eunice – 177 days (5-day)
  • Farmington – 177 days for elementary, 176 days for middle and high school (5-day)
  • Floyd – 151 days (4-day)
  • Ft Sumner – 154 days for elementary, 150 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Grady – 147 days (4-day)
  • Hondo – 147 days (4-day)
  • House – 146 days (4-day)
  • Jal – 150 days (4-day)
  • Jemez Mountain – 173 days for elementary, 161 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Jemez Valley – 160 days (4-day)
  • Logan – 147 days (4-day)
  • Lordsburg – 158 days (4-day)
  • Loving – 163 days for elementary, 160 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Magdalena – 147 days (4-day)
  • Maxwell – 145 days (4-day)
  • Melrose – 152 days (4-day)
  • Mesa Vista – 150 days (4-day)
  • Mora – 166 days (4-day)
  • Mosquero – 147.5 days (4-day)
  • Mountainair – 162 days (4-day)
  • Penasco – 165 days for elementary, 161 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Pojoaque – 179 days for elementary, 172 days for middle and high school (5-day)
  • Portales – 178 days (5-day)
  • Quemado – 150 days (4-day)
  • Questa – 156 days for elementary, 150 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Reserve – 151 days (4-day)
  • Roy – 147 days (4-day)
  • San Jon – 148 days for elementary, 149 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Santa Fe – 175 days for elementary, 174 days for middle and high school (5-day)
  • Santa Rosa – 158 days (4-day)
  • Silver City – 160 days for elementary, 158 days for middle and high school (5-day)
  • Socorro – 173 days for elementary, 167 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Springer – 148 days for elementary, 147 days for middle and high school) (4-day)
  • Taos – 176 days (5-days)
  • Tatum – 165 days (4-day)
  • Texico – 157 days (4-day)
  • TorC – 175 days for elementary, 172 days for middle and high school (5-day)
  • Tucumcari – 151 days (4-day)
  • Vaughn – 160 days for elementary, 156 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Wagon Mound – 150 days elementary, 151 days for middle and high school  (4-day)

The following are all the charter schools with less than 180 days:

  • Albuquerque Talent Development Charter – 167 days (4-day)
  • Alice King Community School – 169 days for elementary, 170 day for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Christine Duncan Heritage Academy – 179 days (4-day)
  • Gordon Bernell – 174 days (4-day)
  • Mark Armijo Academy – 178 days (4-day)
  • New America School – 169 days (4-day)
  • Public Academy for Performing Arts – 168 days (5-day)
  • Moreno Valley High – 150 days (4 day)
  • Deming Cesar Chavez – 154 days for elementary, 155 days for middle and high school (4-Day)
  • 21st Century Public Academy – 167 days (5-day)
  • Altura Preparatory School – 176 days for elementary
  • DEAP – 170 days (5-day)
  • Estancia Valley Classical Academy – 170 days (5-day)
  • Horizon Academy West – 155 days for elementary, 150 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Las Montanas Charter – 162 days (4-day)
  • McCurdy Charter – 175 days for elementary, 173 days for middle and high school (5-day)
  • Middle College High School – 171 days (5-day)
  • Monte Del Sol Charter – 173 days for elementary, 174 days for middle and high school (5-day)
  • New America School Las Cruces – 164 days (4-day)
  • Red River Valley Charter School – 162 days for elementary, 160 days for middle and high school (4-day)
  • Roots and Wings Community – 177 days (4-day)
  • Six Directions Indigenous School – 157 days (5-day)
  • SW Aeronautics Mathematics and Science – 157 days (5-day)
  • Southwest Secondary Learning Center – 174 days (5-day)
  • Taos International School – 169 days (4-day)
  • The Ask Academy – 153 days (4-day)
  • The Masters Program – 171 days (5-day)
  • Thrive Community School – 175 days (5-day)
  • Tierra Encantada Charter School – 173 days (4-day)