Valencia to appeal probationary status

Officials at Valencia Grade School are appealing the probationary status the school received from the New Mexico State Department of Education this summer.
The 2002/2003 California Achievement Test scores for Valencia students were incorrectly tallied by the NMSDE, which affected the school’s overall grade, school officials say.
Valencia received a below-standard score from the NMSDE, but according to Valencia Principal David VanWettering’s calculations the school should have met state standards.
VanWettering’s figures show that Valencia’s English Learning Language students (students who speak English as a second language) average scores on the CAT last year were 48 percentile — or as good as 48 percent of the students nationally — while the NMSDE rated their average scores as 18 percent.
“That’s a big discrepancy,” VanWettering said. “We’re not saying we don’t need to improve; we’re always looking to improve and be better as a school. But we feel like since they’re judging our school on these ratings that they should be correct, and by changing them we would not be a probationary school.”
Furthermore, VanWettering said 12 ELL students took the CAT last year at Valencia; the NMSDE’s report showed that 14 ELL students took the test.
VanWettering sent a letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael J. Davis informing him about the appeal, which should be filed within the next four weeks.
“I don’t know if they will fix the scores,” VanWettering said. “I feel confident that we shouldn’t be probationary, I’ll say that. But I can’t predict the state department, because they’re pretty hard to predict.”
The CAT tests math, reading, language, science and social studies.
Statewide, 78 percent of public schools met or exceeded standards, and about 22 percent of the schools fell into the probationary category.
Valencia and Broad Horizons, an alternative school, are among 81 other schools to fall into probationary status for the first time.
Portales School Superintendent Jim Holloway said only about 50 percent of the students at Broad Horizons took the CAT test, which wasn’t a true representation of the student body.
The remaining six Portales schools met NMSDE standards.