Updated: June 12, 2020 08:59 AM
Created: June 11, 2020 09:46 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- After years of being ranked near the bottom in education, New Mexico got some good news this week.
A 32-page report from the state's Legislative Finance Committee revealed that pre-kindergarten programs improved student performance and graduation rates.
According to the report, "Recent findings suggest that the 2006 inaugural New Mexico pre-kindergarten cohort had a four-year high school graduation rate of 80.2 percent, 6.5 percentage points higher than students who did not attend pre-kindergarten."
New Mexico’s overall high school graduation rate was 74.9% in the 2019 school year.
However, pre-kindergarten students of this cohort graduated at a rate of 80.2%.
"While this is still below the national graduation rate of 85.3 percent, the observed increase in graduation rate suggests pre-kindergarten participation helps close the graduation rate gap, which has persisted in New Mexico," according to the study.
"So to me this is one thing we're doing right," said Amanda Aragon, the executive director of NewMexicoKidsCAN, a nonprofit education advocacy group.
"There are certainly a lot of things about our pre-K programs that we can improve on but we should feel good that at least we're investing in these programs," she said.
"I think what's most interesting about the report are some of the recommendations coming out of it. Mainly, that we need consistent measures across all pre-k programming, and that it works best when it's paired with summer learning which given cancelled summer learning this summer is definitely disappointing," she added.
Meantime, another LFC study released earlier in the week said students could lose three months to a year's worth of instruction because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Obviously, that transition was very quick so that's to some extent understandable but we had the opportunity to implement quality summer learning and we didn't do it," said Aragon.
"So not only have our kids not been in school since March 16th but they're missing out on critical summer programming that would normally mitigate the summer slide and hopefully, in this instance, mitigate the learning loss from the pandemic," she added.
Aragon said she hopes lawmakers will look at both studies and continue funding early education in addition to summer learning.
Funding for education is likely to be a talking point during next week's special session.
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