New ‘grades’ for schools are out
The new grades for schools in the Socorro and Magdalena districts are in, and the results are a mixed bag.
The grades measure how competent a school is on several factors, including proficiency scores of students’ reading and math abilities, student improvement on those abilities and student attendance. In the state, many schools achieved an average score, evidenced by the fact that the majority of schools, a little more than 60 percent, received a C grade. Less than 5 percent of schools in the state achieved an A, while 8.3 percent received Fs. Based on these findings, only four schools in Socorro and Magdalena improved from 2010-11 to 2011-12, while the others either remained the same or dropped. The state did not award any school in either district an overall A grade, according to report cards from the New Mexico Public Education Department.
Midway Elementary and San Antonio Elementary Schools showed the most improvement, increasing their respective letter grades from Ds to Bs. Magdalena Middle School improved from a D to a C, and Zimmerly Elementary School improved to a D after posting an F the previous year.
Cottonwood Valley Charter School, which offers kindergarten through eighth grade, didn’t improve on its C grade. Magdalena elementary and high schools remained the same at D and C grades, respectively. Socorro High School was consistent with a B grade.
However, some good performers from school year 2010-11 dropped to failing levels in 2011-12. Sarracino Middle School dropped from a C to a D, and Parkview Elementary, a high performer with an overall B grade the previous year, dropped to an F this time around.
Ann Shiells, the president of the Socorro Consolidated Schools Board, said she has mixed feelings about the grades the state handed down.
“I’m proud of all those schools,” she said. “Those grades are just one measure of how children succeed.”
Sheills also said she hopes teachers will continue to do their jobs and parents will continue to be supportive.
“The downside of those grades,” she added, “is that teachers and parents may be discouraged.”
The school districts already had reason to be discouraged since both have very tight budgets heading into next school year. Also, Magdalena is searching for a new principal after both the high school principal and elementary and middle school principal left. Socorro is dealing with numerous teacher retirements and the movement of staff to different grade levels in the district.
The schools will face no state sanctions this upcoming year because of these grades.
Both Socorro Superintendent Randal Earwood and Magdalena Superintendent Mike Chambers didn’t return phone calls for comment before deadline.