Report ranks New Mexico children last in math and reading

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According to the newly released report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 30% of students are proficient in math and reading. 

The situation is even worse here in New Mexico. The same report shows only 21% of our 4th graders and 18% of 8th graders can read proficiently. And math scores are even lower coming in at only 19% and 13%, respectively. Ranking 50th out of 50 in all categories. 

“My first reaction is we can do better and we will do better,” New Mexico Secretary of Education, Dr. Kurt Steinhaus said after reading the report card. 

But, he adds he is hopeful the state won’t stay in last place 

“There are a couple of things that New Mexico is doing right, and it will show improvement, but it’s not going to happen in a week it’s going to take a couple of years,” Steinhaus said. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham echoed secretary Steinhaus. In a statement she highlighted multiple programs her administration has done to improve schools. Like expanded early childhood education and free child care—increased teacher salaries—and guarantee tuition-free higher education. 

In Lujan Grisham’s statement she went on to say: 

“The necessary investments and structural changes that are laying the groundwork to overcome the systemic and generation challenges New Mexico faces when it comes to education. Changes to such a system will not come overnight, but we are making all the right investments at every level of education to build better outcomes and stronger students. With the majority of these investments, like the high quality early childhood education that every student now has access to, they have only been implemented recently, so the beneficial outcomes would not be reflected in current test scores.” 

This was the first time the nation’s report card has been published since the pandemic. 

Researchers looked at how students fared with remote learning. They found students who had resources at home like a laptop—a quiet space— and internet access did better. Those resources are hard to come by for too many New Mexican kids. 

“Because New Mexico is so large we do not have an internet connection to every home in New Mexico and we got to fix that. We are on a path to fix it, but we are not there yet,” Steinhaus said. 

Even with those inadequacies – state leaders appear to stand by their decisions for schools during the pandemic. 

Lujan Grisham’s statement continued: 

“Schools around the nation saw declines in NAEP scores, regardless of actions taken during the pandemic. This administration’s efforts during the worst days of the pandemic (in a state that is home to a significant number of vulnerable populations) saved hundreds, if not thousands of New Mexican lives, including students, families and teachers.”

Although New Mexico’s scores were last nationally, there was one glimmer of encouragement in the report. Our Native American students held steady in their scores.

There was not a significant change – good or bad – compared to 2019. 

Education is an issue many will use to make their vote in our upcoming election. Both Lujan Grisham and her republican challenger, Mark Ronchetti, have outlined their plans for our embattled Public Education Department.

But education leaders say parents and families aren’t helpless with when it comes to helping your children speed up their progress in the classroom.