NM tops national education lists

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Could it finally be a resurgence in New Mexico’s classrooms?

New data is finally putting some the state’s high school students at the top of a national ranking but another survey shows there’s lots of work left to do for students entering who are college bound.

It’s tale of two opposite reports. One showing some big strengths, the other showing big weaknesses in New Mexico’s public education system. However, lawmakers believe they’re ultimately making progress.

The report announced Saturday puts New Mexico at or near the top on a couple of lists.

“Hispanic children, or high school students, rank number one nation wide for their success in advanced placement exams,” said Governor Susana Martinez.

The rank comes from “The College Board,” which makes advanced placement class standards.

A second ranking put New Mexico in second place in the U.S. for the highest percentage of low income students with passing AP exams.

“We are seeing true success,” said Hanna Skandera, the Secretary of Education designate for the state of New Mexico.

“What we’re doing with advanced placement is actually working,” said Gov. Martinez.

The Governor points to about $2-million of state money and grants spent on AP programs in the last few years which helped put classes online, translated instructions into Spanish, got middle schoolers in more AP courses and helped pay for testing among other things.

It’s giving students millions of dollars in free college credit, according to Governor Martinez.

“More than 3.5 million dollars,” said Gov. Martinez.

But there’s another huge looming challenge. The Governor’s Office says about $26-million is spent on remedial class every year. Another recent report compiled by the State’s Higher Education Department says 51% of New Mexico’s high school grads needed remedial courses their first year of college.

“Where we need to spend a lot of time and energy and money is working with the students and their families to know that they’re going to take the correct courses,” said Rep. Miera.

Democrat and New Mexico Representative Rick Miera says making sure New Mexico kids are ready for college is still a big concern. Buthe says he’s pleased to hear today’s news.

“It’s nice to know that that needle is moving forward,” said Rep. Miera.

Representative Miera says he thinks the state should spend more money on career counseling with students to help them figure out what courses they need to take to be ready for college.

The Governor meanwhile has called for multiple reforms, many of which call for increased investment touching much of K-12.

The Governor has proposed spending $2-million in the upcoming state budget to continue the state’s AP program enhancements. Lawmakers haven’t made a decision on that yet.

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