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Where Are the Scores?

In September, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham held a literacy conference where she touted an estimated 4.3 percent growth in literacy rates, based off of preliminary assessment data from 2022-2023.

The state celebrated, and yet no proof of this increase has been released to the public.

Meanwhile, the New Mexico Public Education Department quietly released the state’s graduation rates for the same year which showed a marginal decline in the number of high school students graduating in 2022. This begs the question: Where are the scores?

Every year, students take standardized state assessments. These assessments are required by federal law and are used to help parents and teachers understand whether their students are meeting grade level benchmarks in English Language Arts, mathematics, and science.

Pre-COVID-19, the state was testing and releasing data on a regular basis. State assessments were given between March and May, and results were released, sometime between August and October.

In 2022, New Mexico introduced the New Mexico Measures of Student Success and Achievement (NM-MSSA) as the primary assessment. This transition comes after several years of testing disruptions, including the abrupt end of the previous testing system in 2019, a federal waiver in 2020 due to COVID, and limited testing in 2021 despite federal directives.

The state conducts various summative assessments, including I-Station for early literacy (K-2), NM-MSSA for English language arts and math (grades 3-8), the New Mexico Assessment of Science Readiness (grades 5, 8, and 11), and the SAT (grade 11).

Results for 2022-23 have still not been released and the 2023 calendar year is nearly over. New Mexico’s neighbors released their data months ago. Arizona released its data in January, Colorado released data in late August, Texas released its student data in the middle of August, and Utah released its data in early October. Of its neighbors, New Mexico is the only state that has not released student assessment data.

In the summer, New Mexico Education asked PED when these results would be available. We were told to expect them in early August. August came and went, but no results were available, so New Mexico Education asked again.

PED officials told us to expect the results in late October. These results are part of the public record, so to cut through the shadows of this situation, New Mexico Education submitted an Inspection of Public Records Act request to PED about these scores. PED’s response to the IPRA was to attach a link to a spreadsheet of year-old data, and say that the results for 2022-2023 will not be available until December, and that they consider the request closed.

New Mexico has had a complicated relationship with state assessments, from the uproar that came from the PARCC assessment under former Governor Susanna Martinez (R), to the lack of tests during the COVID-19 pandemic during the current Lujan Grisham administration. 

The absence of scores comes the same year the Yazzie/Martinez consolidated lawsuit hit its five year anniversary, where a state district court judge ruled the state has long been violating the state constitution by failing to provide an “adequate” education for students.

The end of the year is rapidly approaching, the second semester for New Mexico’s students is on the horizon, and families have been left in the dark about where their students scored in the last assessment. The PED has this information, and still has time to release it before the end of October.