Education Reform

While we still have more work to do, New Mexico now leads nation when it comes to improving graduation rates.

Governor Martinez believes education is the key to every child being able to chase his or her dreams. She believes every child can learn and that reforms must focus on improving student achievement in the classroom. Governor Martinez is especially focused on ensuring every child can read by the 3rd grade.
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New Mexico is now spending more money in the classroom than ever before, more children are graduating from high school, as New Mexico is now the #1 state in the country for improving graduation rates, and New Mexico’s Hispanic students are leading the nation when it comes to taking and passing advanced placement courses.

Governor Martinez wants to build on this progress and continue investing in reform efforts that lift up struggling students and schools, better engage parents in their child’s education, reward teachers for their success in the classroom, and graduate more New Mexico students.

Protecting Classroom Spending and Supporting Teachers

  • In order to protect classroom funding from budget cuts early in her administration, Governor Martinez trimmed funding for the state’s education bureaucracy instead – by 25 percent – and enacted budget reforms elsewhere in state government.
  • Since taking office, the Governor has increased education spending by over $375 million dollars, including almost $79 million on specific initiatives to improve early literacy, provide pre-K classes and extra summer instruction, expand AP classes, better prepare high school students to graduate and enter the workforce, and much more.
  • Education spending is higher than at any point in New Mexico history, with more dollars flowing directly into the classroom on reform efforts designed to improve student achievement.
  • Invested an additional $5 million on new textbooks to ensure children have quality instructional materials at school.
  • Provided every 1st grader with a reading book of their own, to read at home with their family.
  • Raised the salary of starting teachers by 6.7%, offered new training and support to thousands of teachers – particularly on the subject of reading, and hired reading coaches in New Mexico schools to help teachers with reading instruction.
  • Worked to recruit and retain math and science teachers in areas of the state that heavily lack them.

Real Accountability. Real Results.

  • Signed A-F School Grading Bill. This reform provides letter grades to schools in an easy to understand manner to recognize excellence and identify schools in need of help.

Parents, educators and administrators can finally see where improvements are happening and where they need to be made.” – ABQ Journal; 7/15/12)

  • New Mexico was one of the first states to receive a federal waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, offering New Mexico schools more flexibility to increase student achievement and greater local control.
  • Under Governor Martinez, New Mexico’s graduation rate increased from 63 to 70 percent, with minority students making larger gains and closing the achievement gap.
  • In 2013, New Mexico high school students saw record increases in reading proficiency rates, with minority students making larger gains and closing the achievement gap.  3rd graders who were exposed to reading interventions also posted larger proficiency gains than those who weren’t.

Helping Struggling Schools and Students, and Engaging Parentseducationreformparents

  • Targeting funding directly for early reading initiatives and help for struggling schools, including school turnaround programs for failing schools and reading coaches to help teachers work with struggling readers.
  • Increased funding for K-3 Plus by nearly $16 million and made the program permanent. This reform helps disadvantaged students catch up by providing extra tutoring and instruction for up to 25 days during the summer.
  • Translated Advanced Placement materials and reading assistance materials into not only the Spanish language, but also into the Navajo language for the first time ever.
  • Served breakfast to over 60,000 elementary school students each year as part of the “Breakfast After the Bell” program; New Mexico is one of the highest-ranked states in the nation when it comes to providing breakfast to low-income children.
  • Expanded the use of online parent portals, where parents can have daily access to their child’s assignments, grades, and attendance.
  • Held “Readers Raise the Roof” seminars throughout the State, which are fun evening seminars that help parents learn how to teach their children to read; to date, 5,000 parents have been trained.
  • Used state and non-profit funding to establish more than 10 early college high schools throughout New Mexico, where students can graduate high school with a diploma, an associate’s degree, and work-ready certificates.
  • Established an early warning system to help teachers and administrators identify and help – from an early age – those students who are most at risk of dropping out.

Teacher Evaluation System – Teachers Must be Evaluated to Recognize Excellence and Help Struggling Teachers.

  • Under the status quo, 99 percent of teachers were rated at the highest level, despite struggling student performance.
  • The new Teacher Evaluation System was designed with input from teachers and factors in student performance.
    • 50 percent based on the academic improvement of students. The emphasis is on improving student performance, not on whether or not all students make the highest grade.
    • 25 percent based on classroom observation by an educator.
    • 25 percent based on measures like quality of lesson planning, attendance and student surveys.

Tennessee and Washington, DC implemented this reform and saw the greatest improvement in student performance of any state/district in the nation.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that teacher absences dropped by 15 percent and leaders attributed this success to the new teacher evaluation system.

Investing In Early Childhood Education

  • More than doubled the funding and number of students served by pre-K.
  • For the first time ever, New Mexico secured a $25 million dollar Race to the Top grant from the Obama Administration to implement key reforms in early childhood learning.
  • Established the “New Mexico Reads to Lead” initiative to focus education dollars on helping struggling readers.
  • Developed and offered summer reading challenges to elementary school students, with neat prizes that showcased New Mexico’s treasures for winning students.

Charter Schools

  • To provide quality choices for parents in public schools, Governor Martinez strongly supports charter schools.
  • Seven of the state’s Top 10 performing high schools are public charter schools.