Tag: Literacy

Every Student Deserves a High-Performing School

Every Student Deserves a High-Performing School

The Release of School Grades

School Grades were recently released to the public.

Our school accountability system has earned a lot of praise for being clear and understandable for families—and this year our reports are even more family friendly following our yearlong ESSA tour. Check out the great coverage all over the state in the ABQ Journal, the Associated Press, KOAT, KOB, KRQE, the Deming Headlight, the Carlsbad Current Argus, the Farmington Daily News, and the Alamogordo Daily News.  The story on Gil Sanchez Elementary might be my favorite yet as we seek to identify and scale best practices across the state.

Background on School Grading

School Grading is part of state and federal statute that mandates accountability for all public schools.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), originally enacted in 1965, requires schools to show annual improvement in mathematics and reading. In 2011, New Mexico lawmakers enacted additional requirements that schools demonstrate progress through a grading system similar to that applied to students, A-B-C-D-F.

School Grades provide a consistent measure (now over six years) for all public schools across the state so that we can see which schools are doing well and which schools are struggling and need support.

Working for Success

Schools that embrace change, get results. School improvement is a CHOICE. Our districts and schools that continue to embrace change and new opportunities for kids are continuing to see success.

Our 15 largest districts are serving more than 60% of students in the state. The following large districts are examples of those that have embraced change over the years and are now showing strong improvements – not only increasing the number of “A” schools within their districts – but also by drastically reducing the amount of “F” schools within their districts:

  • Farmington has eliminated “F” schools and increased the amount of “A” schools

o   In 2012, 6% of its schools were “F” schools, today the district has 0 “F” schools

o   In 2012, Farmington had no “A” schools, today 37% of its schools are “A” schools

  • Gadsden has eliminated “F” schools and increased the amount of “A” schools

o   In 2012, 9% of its schools were “F” schools, today the district has 0 “F” schools

o   The district has grown the number of “A” schools by 4%

  • Alamogordo has eliminated “F” schools.

o   In 2012, 13% of its schools were “F” schools, today the district has 0 “F” schools

o   The district has grown the number of “A” schools by 14%

Our Students Deserve Better

Our most struggling students deserve better. Many of NM’s schools are not doing a good job serving their lowest performing students that are well below grade level in math and reading.

Here’s what we can do, together, about the growing divide of schools on the rise and those that are not making progress or are sliding backwards:

  1. When schools are struggling, they can choose to improve.  Over the past five years, New Mexico has invested significant resources and developed proven programs and that are getting results for kids.  Principals Pursuing Excellence (PPE) and Teacher Pursuing Excellence (TPE) are two examples of those—school turnaround programs available for struggling schools that are ready to change and grow.
  2. Under NM’s top-rated State ESSA Plan, districts are required to take action when a school persistently earns “F’s” 4, 5 or 6 years in a row.  Several of New Mexico’s schools will be under the umbrella of the “More Rigorous Interventions” category—which requires district’s to choose a different path forward.
  3. When our kids are trapped in persistently failing schools, they have options under state law.  Students enrolled in schools that have earned two “F” grades in the last four years have the right to attend a different school.
  4. When charter schools are persistently “D” and “F”, the NM PED has a moral and educational responsibility to recommend to the Public Education Commission (PEC) that their charter be considered for revocation.

What You Can Do

The release of school grades can be an exciting time for some, but we also recognize it can be a sobering time for others.

If your school received a lower grade, put yourself in the shoes of a student who received a similar grade. What would you say to them? How would you encourage them? What immediate actions would you ask them to take? Give yourself (and any colleagues that need it) the same advice.

Once you’ve processed, here are easy and quick ways to start leaning in as a teacher, to lead toward improvement:

  1. Next time you see your principal, let them know you are ready and willing to help. Ask them what you can do to help improve!
  2. Dive into the full School Grade Report, not just the first page. Identify ONE thing to celebrate and ONE area for improvement.
  3. BE A GREAT TEACHER. Dive into your student level data, identify what your kiddos need and deliver. Your students can have a positive impact on the whole school’s grade.
  4. Last, but not least. Remember, we at the NM PED are here to help! We can provide a pick me up, encouragement or expert help! Just ask!

Hear It From Teachers

Check out what teachers around NM have to say about their school’s grade.

My school went from a D to a C….. we know we are moving up to a B next year!  We are positive! We are working harder than ever….. although our amazing principal did say in today’s meeting…. “It’s not about our grade, it’s about making sure we are preparing these students!”  So, in reality, our prayer and hope to move to a B, is just our journey and knowing we are doing everything we can to get these kiddos moving in the right direction!  Work hard…. 3 year old program- to our 6th grade programs. Just work hard!  Hurley Elementary School, Cobre Consolidated Schools

Deming Intermediate went from an F to being less than 2 points away from a C.  So proud of my school!!! Deming Intermediate School, Deming Public Schools

We went up, in both our elementary and middle school, from a D to a B!!!!!  Pretty dang proud of our students and staff! Eagle Nest Elementary and Middle School, Cimarron Public Schools

My school went from a D to a C. We as a school are prepared to work even harder to move up to a B or even an A. Colinas del Norte Elementary School, Rio Rancho Public Schools

Our little school went back up to an A as well. The staff is excited and so are the kids! Reserve High School, Reserve Public Schools

Our school moved up from a D to a C, missing a B by 5 points. We are determined to get that B or A next year. We are the largest school in SFPS with the highest ELL and Special Learning population in the district! We are so proud of our students and teachers! Capital High School, Santa Fe Public Schools

For New Mexico Teachers, By New Mexico Teachers: Announcing FREE K-6 Literacy Lessons

For New Mexico Teachers, By New Mexico Teachers: Announcing FREE K-6 Literacy Lessons

We are proud to announce the statewide release of new early literacy instructional resources.  Nearly 40 close reading lessons were developed by some of New Mexico’s best early literacy teachers and are now available open-source to all. 

The New Mexico Dream Team has crafted K-6 English Language Arts “close reading modules” over the last six months.  These instructional resources will assist fellow teachers and school leaders in their instructional delivery.  Both celebration of and collaboration in the craft of instructional planning, the Dream Team drew upon their classroom experience in designing concise, high-quality “screencasts” and supporting materials with the assistance of content coaches and online tools. 

During in-person workshops and through ongoing virtual collaboration sessions, Dream Team members:

  • Engaged in a hands-on learning opportunity that invigorated their instructional practice and honed their leadership and facilitation skills
  • Collaborated with their coaching groups to develop close reading lessons that engage students in productive struggle, thus giving students practice with complex texts
  • Prepared to lead professional learning sessions focused on close reading of complex texts

Nearly forty modules have been developed BY NEW MEXICO TEACHERS FOR NEW MEXICO TEACHERS.  They are now available to all New Mexico teachers, for free! 

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE FREE CLOSE READING LESSONS 

If you know a Dream Team member, please express your appreciation for their contributions to the state’s early literacy work.  These open source close reading modules and lessons will help improve student literacy statewide in the years to come. 

To learn more about the Dream Team experience, check out this guest post from Dream Team member, Deanna Walker.

GUEST POST: My Experience on the 2017 New Mexico Dream Team

GUEST POST: My Experience on the 2017 New Mexico Dream Team

On most days I leave my school to make an hour drive home and reflect on my day in my classroom.  I ask myself if I could have done something better and I usually beat myself up the entire drive home.  Sometimes, I feel I’m not teaching like I should even though I’m doing the best job I can and pouring my heart into my students.  Although I am labeled as an exemplary teacher, I doubt my ability and at times, think I should walk away from teaching.

This school year (2016-2017) I was chosen to be a part of the 2017 New Mexico Dream Team.  I can honestly say that it changed my thinking and rejuvenated my love for teaching. The experience reminded me why I’m a teacher.  Serving on the Dream Team allowed me to discover valuable tools to improve literacy and design rigorous lessons to improve the learning levels of my students in the classroom. Most importantly, being on the Dream Team introduced me to a group of elite teachers that have the same thoughts and feelings I was having.  Coming together with other teachers and sharing ideas and formulating strategies to improve literacy for our students has been an amazing experience. The doubts that I had in my ability as a teacher were removed and I feel that I am making a difference in the classroom.   I feel better equipped to teach close reading and design lessons with rigor to help students gain a deeper understanding of the text. I became a more confident teacher through the Dream Team training and the feedback from my colleagues.

At the beginning of this school year I had decided this would be my last year of teaching.  I no longer feel that way.  Talking to other teachers I realized that we all have self-doubt about out teaching ability and that we only have these doubts because we care so much about being great teachers.  I have since changed my mind about leaving the teaching profession and rediscovered why I’m a teaching… Not because I have to, but because I want to!

This guest post was written by Deanna Walker, a teacher in Maxwell Municipal Schools and a member of the 2017 New Mexico Literacy Dream Team.

Free New Mexico Magazine Subscription for Teachers and Our Students

Free New Mexico Magazine Subscription for Teachers and Our Students

Great news! New Mexico Magazine just launched a program called Subscriptions for Students. With this offer any New Mexico teacher can request a free subscription for their class.

Rachel Dennis, a history teacher at Jackson Middle School in Albuquerque has shared this guest post about how she has used this program in her classroom. Enjoy!

I love teaching and I love New Mexico! Both things I carry on from my mom, a retired APS teacher, who just so happened to be my 7th grade New Mexico history teacher. When I was younger, we spent weekends as a family traveling around the state checking out all the wonderful and unique places New Mexico has to offer.

When I started teaching New Mexico history 9 years ago it amazed me how many of my students had never explored their state, let alone even been outside of Albuquerque. This realization is where New Mexico Magazine really got its initial appeal, and why I’ve been so excited to be a pilot class for the new Subscriptions for Students Program. Now that my students have their own copies of the magazine, they love looking at the pictures of the people, places and art that we are studying and are surprised to see how these wonderful things are right in their own backyard. The images were the initial grab to get the students’ attention, but what I’ve found is that the articles they are reading in the magazine can be so easily tied into our curriculum and standards.

As a school this year we really wanted to focus on informational text, and New Mexico Magazine lends the most perfect pieces of writing for my students to analyze. We do a monthly (at least) assignment with the articles, marking the text using AVID strategies, analyzing author’s purpose and looking at cause and effect pieces of the stories.

I am so grateful to New Mexico Magazine for providing each of my students with a monthly subscription! The magazine is influencing their lives and has added a new level to my teaching. I am proud to be piloting the Subscriptions for Students Program. I love that I am able to bring the community into my classroom and share it with the students, who can then share with their families as well! I plan to continue to utilize the magazine in my curriculum to help further their reading, writing and analysis skills.

I strongly encourage all my fellow teachers to adopt and use this program in their classrooms! I really want to see this program succeed, not only so I can keep using this as a tool in my classroom for years to come, but to share the success with lots of other students in our state!

To request the Subscriptions for Students Program for your class, send an email to circ@nmmagazine.com or call 505-827-6387.