New Mexico Public Education Department Utilizes A Community Approach to Assessment Undertaking

 

The New Mexico Public Education Department is taking the opportunity to revamp its assessment system by embarking on a Community Conversations tour throughout New Mexico.

            Stakeholder Community Input Sessions were scheduled throughout the month of March, inviting parents and students, educators and administration, along with policy and community advocates to provide input on the future of student statewide assessment. The second of seven sessions was held in Las Cruces on Wednesday, March 13 at Arrowhead Park Early College High School. Over 50 people participated in the discussion that was guided by the NMPED and members of the education community.

Gwendolyn Perea Warniment, Ph.D., Deputy Secretary of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

Gwendolyn Perea Warniment, Ph.D., Deputy Secretary of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

            “Assessment, foremost, should be the work of educators,” said Gwendolyn Perea Warniment, Ph.D., Deputy Secretary of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, in the meeting’s opening statement. “It really should inform our practice.”

Earlier this year, New Mexico’s newly appointed governor, Michelle Lujan-Grisham, signed an executive order to end and replace the controversial PARCC standardized test used to evaluate students and teachers. Nominations are open for the Student Success Task Force, which will be appointed in April by Secretary Karen Trujillo, PhDs. The task force will be making phase one recommendations, assisting in the 2019-20 school year transition.

            The second phase of the transition includes focusing on the assessment system beyond 2020. During the Community Input Sessions, attendees are divided up into groups to discuss ideas before presenting to the room. The ideas from each city’s session will be taken into consideration for phase one and two along with concepts from the Innovation in Education Symposium being held June 11-12 in Albuquerque.

Educators in Las Cruces took the time to express their appreciation for the opportunity to be a part of the process. They mentioned adopting an assessment that was informative as opposed to punitive and that gave applicable and relevant feedback. Educators also questioned a tech-based assessment on the grounds of student access to and experience with technology. They also expressed considering assessments that took the least amount of time possible. For high-school graduates, educators proposed a more personalized assessment menu that was tailored for each student’s future.

            Education administrators expressed wanting to also include interim assessments with timely reporting and easy to understand results. While administrators said they prefer an assessment with no competing platforms, policy and community advocates expressed considering multi-platform assessments with an accessible database. Many groups also mentioned utilizing more holistic assessments that are also culturally sensitive. 

            The student panel was led by NMSU Core Specialist, Greg Howell. Karin Keesling, a senior at Onate High School, and Serena Thomas, a sophomore at Arrowhead Park Early College Highschool, shared their ideas on how to improve the assessment system. The students wanted relevant and applicable content, the opportunity for feedback and re-evaluation, and improvement on the timing and flexibility of taking the assessment.  The students also expressed wanting to learn more basic life skills, “the taxes, the budgeting, and the saving portions of life...”

“If we could offer that and also get tested on that, it would prepare us more for after high-school experience,” said Keesling.

            Many parents voiced their hesitancy toward standardized testing and others proposed project-based learning and portfolio assessment. Higher education officials from NMSU discussed formative learning and utilizing curriculum maps for newer teachers. Regarding assessment, they said results needed to be accessible as well as detailed enough to support advocacy.  

            For additional information regarding the development of the statewide assessment system transition plan visit www.core-nmsu.org

            For information on the Innovation in Education Symposium visit www.futurefocuseducation.org