By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
All Quay County schools but one received passing grades in the state’s 2014 school grading results released Thursday by the New Mexico Public Education Department.
San Jon Elementary School received an F in the state grading system, the only school to receive a failing grade.
Fewer than half of the schools in Quay County equaled or bettered their state system grades in 2014 from 2013.
San Jon Elementary made the largest drop from a C to an F, while Logan high school maintained an A rating for a second consecutive year.
Schools that dropped a grade level in Quay County but are still considered passing are: Logan Elementary, C; House Middle School, D; and San Jon Middle School, D.
This is the third year New Mexico schools have been graded by the guidelines of the state’s school accountability system that replaced the federal Adequate Yearly Progress system.
San Jon Superintendent Colin Taylor said San Jon Elementary’s F “does not mean that San Jon is a bad school.”
San Jon Elementary failed in three areas, according to education department records:
• “School growth,” which the state education department defines as performance improvement on standardized tests at each grade level over the past three years;
• “Student growth at highest performing levels,” improvement in the performance on standardized tests of the top three-quarters of students over three years;
• “Student growth at the lowest performing levels,” improvement in the performance on standardized tests of the lowest quarter of students over three years.
Taylor said some student scores had actually declined or did not improve as much as was expected.
Taylor said the school is going to continue its efforts to strengthen its “response to intervention” (RTI) programs. In the RTI program the teachers ask, what material and skills do we want kids to know by the end of the year? How will we measure their progress? What steps should be taken if a child does not learn the material? How can we further learning when children know the material?
“We are going to continue to work to improve the quality and level of education our students receive,” Taylor said.
San Jon’s intermediate school dropped a grade from a C to a D from 2013 to 2014, and its high school dropped from a B grade to a C.
Logan schools earned an A for the second consecutive year, scoring As in student growth of highest performing students and lowest performing students, and an A in college and career readiness.
“At Logan we have made an intentional move to expand dual enrollment opportunities for our students,” said Dennis Roch, Logan superintendent. In dual enrollment, students receive both college credit and high school credit for the same class.
Roch said Logan schools put a lot of effort into providing opportunities to help jump-start students in their efforts to prepare for careers and earn college degrees.
He said through partnerships with Clovis Community College, Logan students can earn college credits in courses including English, math, psychology and sociology. In this past year, Roch said, the school also offered students courses in vocational areas such as building trades and agriculture.
“We are going to expand the level of vocational courses through a partnership with Mesalands Community College,” Roch said.
Logan High School received a D grade in its graduation ranking. Roch said the school’s apparently low graduation rate did not reflect the performance of students who attend from freshman to senior year, but that of students enrolled in Logan’s Ute Lake Online Learning School.
These students, he said, are high school students who dropped out or were unable to complete high school. He said many of them have jobs and families and complete the courses at their own pace.
“We are willing to accept the lower ranking on the school graduation portion of the state assessment if it helps these individuals succeed,” Roch said of the online school.
Roch said the administration has already taken steps to address Logan Elementary’s drop from a B to a C, that resulted from two F’s in their student growth of highest performing students and lowest performing students.
“The old system ranked schools on how they were doing overall,” Roch said. “If you look at our school rating, it is above the state average.”
Roch said the new state grading system ranks the schools on each student showing growth and improvement each year. He said Logan has not been doing as well in the areas of student growth.
“Our teachers have already undergone training that will help get the needle moving” in the right direction, he said, and get students growing and improving where they should be.
Roch said several teachers have received training in how to offer instruction that benefits students at all learning levels. Past instruction, he said, would focus on lower achievers and ignore high and moderate achievers.
Roch said the new instructional methods will not just give more work to high achievers, but will offer them more challenging assignments. Lower achievers will be given the same amount of work but at a level they can comprehend.
All Tucumcari Public Schools the elementary school maintained a C rating, and the middle school retained its B grade. Tucumcari High School, however dropped from an A to a B from 2013 to 2014.
“The way these read, I don’t have that big an issue with the lower grade for the high school,” said Aaron McKinney, Tucumcari superintendent.
“We still don’t understand how some the equations work in this system,” McKinney said. “We know it’s based on students improvement and that is going to change yearly.”
McKinney said the high school fell just a few points shy of an A rating.
“You look at the schools around the state with D’s and F’s and our school is doing good, though we are always striving to improve,” McKinney said.
McKinney said there has been much work with the elementary students and earning a C for a second year is not from lack of trying. He said in the 2013-14 school year, Tucumcari schools offered tutoring, and similar additional efforts are planned to help the schools improve.
Here’s how the area schools fared in 2014 (2013 grades in parentheses):
Tucumcari Elementary: C (C)
Tucumcari Middle: B (B)
Tucumcari High: B (A)
House Elementary: B (C)
House Junior High: D (B)
House High: B (B)
Logan Elementary: C (B)
Logan Middle: B (B)
Logan High: A (A)
San Jon Elementary: F (C)
San Jon Middle: D (C)
San Jon High: C (B)