Two education-reform bills passed full senates votes Monday night,
though they differ most prominently on the issues of mandatory
retention and math.
The two bills were disputed at length into late-night hours.
Both bills create a team to help students who don’t test as
proficient. The Student Assessment Teams are made up of teachers,
administrators, councilors and parents, who determine what
interventions are necessary for students who don’t pass their reading
Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Bernalillo), says
students who don’t test at proficiency in math in grades 4 through 8
get assistance as well.
Editors note: Senator Lopez’s bill also allows for schools to use alternatives to standardized tests to assess proficiency.
This ensures that all children are properly assessed, including those who do not test well.
Senate Bill 96, sponsored by Gay Kernan (R-Chavez), does not include
math as a consideration for students. Kernan said math isn’t accounted
for in New Mexico’s latest budget, unlike reading.
Lopez said she wished math was weighted just as much as reading , and
read from a study which said students who aren’t proficient at math
have a difficult time ever catching up, and that early math
achievement is indicative of future success.
In a nearly party-line vote, Republicans failed to pass an amendment
to take math out of SB50 entirely.
Sen. John Ryan (R-Bernalillo) said math takes “the focus off of what’s
really important,” and said it makes as much sense to focus on math
for students as humanities and P.E.
Kernan said SB 96 mandates that a student who can’t read proficiently
(based on standardized testing) be held back after third grade.
Lopez’s bill says a students doesn’t get automatically held back until
two straight years of non-proficient test scores.
Numerous senators said they would vote for both bills, and expressed
the hope that the House of Representatives will combine the bills into
one piece of legislation when they debate and vote SB50 and SB96.