Magdalena schools look at testing results

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During the Magdalena School Board meeting last week, during a principal’s report, school counselor Sandra Montoya talked about the ability of students to demonstrate competency in alternate ways. Eleven of the 23 graduating seniors at the school did not pass the New Mexico required exam to be able to graduate with their class.

The students, who took their test during their junior year, will have the opportunity to take it again – or they can demonstrate competency by taking one of several other exams, including the PSAT.

Superintendent Mike Chambers said for special education students, there are three ways for the students to graduate. They can follow a traditional pathway, career pathway or ability pathway.

Montoya said if students did well on one area of the test but have to retest on other areas, it is to their benefit to retest on the area they passed as well.

“It is to your benefit to show growth,” she said she tells the students.

Moving into the superintendent’s report, Chambers said the main topic of a meeting he attended in Albuquerque, the Superintendent Advisory Board, was a lack of communication between the state Public Education Department and the board.

“She (PED director Hanna Skandera) is supposed to meet with this group monthly and has not since January,” he said.

He went on to explain one of the group’s concerns about the testing. The school systems were told repeatedly by PED that only math and reading would be on the competency test. Now science scores suddenly count.

Also, Chambers said, the cut-off scores changed by half a point just a week ago.

Another issue the superintendents have with PED, Chambers said, is the requirement for the district to have an end of year test. But districts were to develop their own tests, now PED is saying they are going to hire an outside entity to develop those tests.

Chambers said after Skandera received a letter from him outlining the points above she agreed to reconvene the Superintendent Advisory Board and that it will happen in Magdalena.

Also during his report, Chambers said he is finally feeling like things are off to a good start.

During a discussion about expenditures, Chambers talked about the schools’ electric bill, which went up considerably after Socorro Electric Cooperative changed the transformers serving the school.

“We were told they were upgrading to new transformers, and our multiplier went from eight to 20,” he said.

This generated a question from the board members as to whether the schools get one vote or a bunch of votes in the upcoming co-op trustee election and who does the voting for the schools.

Athletic Director Billy Page reported on the first round of mandatory drug testing held at the school.

All students at the school participating in sports and extracurricular activities of any kind were required to participate in the drug testing. Page said seven students failed the test, all had THC in their system and one had a prescribed opiate.

“They really didn’t think we were going to do it,” he said. “They said, ‘If we really thought you were going to do it, we would have quit.’”

“I think it’s been very positive,” Chambers said about the drug testing decision.

 

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