Administrators praise AYP progress

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

Board members and administrators spent much of their time at the Portales Municipal Schools regular board meeting Monday discussing last school year’s Adequate Yearly Progress test scores.

Although six of the seven Portales schools tested in March ‘09 did not meet standards established by the State of New Mexico, administrative staff at the meeting praised the progress students in the system made.

Assistant Superintendent Priscilla Hernandez repeatedly said Portales’ scores were higher than the averages achieved statewide in many categories.

Most New Mexico schools, 69 percent, did not meet AYP standards set for the most recent tests.

“Even though we didn’t make proficiency in some of the schools, we are making great progress with the students,” Hernandez said. “Lots of good things are happening.”

Only Lindsey Elementary in the Portales school system met the standards set by the state. Brown, James, Steiner and Valencia elementary schools, as well as Portales Junior High and Portales High, didn’t.

Portales Superintendent Randy Fowler said the existence of testing for subgroups is what ultimately leads to the schools in Portales and other cities failing. Portales High, for instance, had one subgroup fail in one category, and that led to not making the standard overall.

“No one ever looks underneath to see why (schools) didn’t make AYP, and that’s what’s frustrating to me,” Fowler said.

“All we can ask for is that we continue to make progress and the students continue to improve,” said Fowler, while noting that the standards for Adequate Yearly Progress also increase each year.

In other business, the board unanimously approved revisions to the school’s handbook on high school graduation exercises — most notably in the area of how the valedictorian and salutatorian will be selected in the future.

Beginning with the incoming freshman class at PHS, changes to the official policy include students being required to be enrolled by the 20th day of the junior year to be salutatorian or valedictorian and the use of ACT scores to break ties between those with the same Grade Point Average.