Photo: MALDEF Announces Investigation Into New Mexico Minority Students' Lagging Performance
At a conference held by New Mexico’s Latino Education Task Force, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) said his organization has launched an investigation into the state’s persistent low graduation rates and test scores among Hispanic students.
The achievement gap now under investigation has been a long studied issue among Hispanic students and has also been the focus of reform efforts from both the state and the Albuquerque Public School system (APS).
According to the Latino Education Task Force, Hispanic, African American, and Native American students made up about 70 percent of New Mexico’s students, but lag behind their white counterparts in the state.
While just 49 percent of Hispanic eighth graders are proficient in reading, white students are at 72 percent, according to the New Mexico Public Education Department. Also, about 69 percent of white third-graders are proficient in reading, while just 48 percent of Hispanic students are.
Governor Susana Martinez agrees changes need to be made to close the gap and improve the education of students overall.
Recently, New Mexico presented a new A-F grading system for schools, which focuses on improvements among the lowest scoring 25 percent of students, and includes teacher evaluations proposed by the state and district, which would include rewards for teachers when students’ performance improves.
‘We also require every school across the state to demonstrate and provide evidence of a plan of closing the achievement gap,’ acting Public Education Secretary Hannah Skandera stated. ‘We have not done these things before in our state. It really is a resounding commitment. I applaud MALDEF for taking their position on this.’