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PED accelerates test result release

After criticism from legislators, the New Mexico Public Education Department has accelerated its timeline for releasing state assessment results by two months.

As reported last week in New Mexico Education, members of the Legislative Finance Committee’s Education Subcommittee expressed displeasure during a May hearing that results of the Measures of Student Success and Achievement (NM-MSSA) for grades 3-8, administered in the spring would not be released until late October or early November.

But last week, PED announced that it had pressured testing vendor Cognia to accelerate its release timeline.

Cognia “began with what worked for them, and we told them that doesn’t work for us,” PED spokeswoman Judy Robinson told the Albuquerque Journal.

Testing was paused in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and resumed this year, with Cognia’s Measures of Student Success and Achievement (NM-MSSA) for grades 3-8 replacing PARCC. That makes this year’s results vitally important for quantifying as-yet unmeasured pandemic-related learning loss.

But this is a new test, replacing the ​​Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), making it unclear how comparable this year’s results will be to  past years.

A 2021 LFC report estimated that the pandemic exacted a heavy toll on New Mexico’s students, and disproportionately harmed students who were already struggling in school. The report said that New Mexico’s most at-risk students, who were already at least a half-year behind in learning, lost another significant chunk of learning time because of the pandemic. That lost time ranged from 10 to 60 days, depending on the district.

Those warning signs have made policymakers eager for more reliable data.

PED also announced that results from SAT tests, taken by high school juniors, will be released this month instead of August, as originally projected.