New Mexico's graduation rate 'most improved' of all states

Created: 06/05/2014 6:25 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

New Mexico's public schools earn high marks in a new national survey. This, while education reform heats up as a hot button issue in the race for governor.

Education Week ranks New Mexico number one among the 50 states when it comes to improvements in the high school graduation rate.  From 2007 to 2012, our state went from a 59 percent graduation rate to 74 percent – a 15 percent increase, the biggest increase of any state and second only to Washington DC's 16 percent.

Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican running for re-election, attributes much of the improvement to her sometimes controversial school reforms, like letter-grading schools and evaluating teachers. Democrat Gary King, her opponent, vows to ditch many of those reforms if he's elected.

"We are losing teachers at an alarming rate from our school system," King charged at a news conference the morning after his victory in this week's Democratic primary. "We know that our students are being disenfranchised from the system because of her push to drive for the corporatization of our school system in New Mexico." King went on to criticize state spending on out-of-state companies that conduct standardized testing of students. Martinez calls such talk "insane".

"We're on the right track," Martinez said. "Why would we ever undo that? Why would we ever unravel that? Instead we want to build on it and keep moving in the right direction to prove that our kids can compete."

Education Week reports New Mexico's 74-percent graduation rate is still below the national average of 81 percent, but the improvement rate is highest among the states. The overall best graduation rates? It's a tie between Nebraska and Vermont at 93 percent. The worst? Nevada at 60 percent.

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