The Public Education Department recently made available “report cards” that grade the state’s 89 school districts and individual schools on an “A through F” scale. Included are low grades for most of the 16 Hobbs campuses. While I want to congratulate Broadmoor for a “B” rating, overall, I am disappointed with the results. I firmly believe that the grades in no way depict the learning that takes place on a day-to-day basis in our local classrooms. I will never be convinced that a school can be rated based on snapshot results of a onetime test that many curriculum experts claim is invalid. The current grading system is a piece of the pie, but not the whole pie. I don’t believe a standardized test should drive our curriculum or our teaching techniques.
And neither does President Barack Obama. "Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal," President Obama said in his recent State of the Union address. "Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test."
Closer to home, N.M. House Education Committee Rick Miera also opposes the emphasis on tests to evaluate schools. “I do not believe in high-stakes testing at any grade,” Miera said during the current Legislature session in reference to the No-Social promotion bill.
The A-F school rating system provides a baseline – a starting point of data from which we need to show improvement in coming years. It is imperative that student learning increases. Although Hobbs Municipal Schools has no control over the abilities with which a student enters school, our mission is to advance that child academically.
HMS is currently taking major steps to ensure that student advancement occurs. Another new mandatory system for doing so - Common Core State Standards(CCSS) - will replace the existing curriculum in our school district and across the nation within the next few years. CCSS has been adopted by 48 states, including New Mexico, as the benchmark for academic success.
Through a joint effort with the J.F Maddox Foundation and the Dana Center from Austin, HMS will undergo a five-year phase in of CCSS in all of our schools. During that time, our current curriculum will be aligned with CCSS and staff will be trained in how to adjust lesson plans and instruction. CCSS emphasizes fewer concepts than our current content, but requires deeper student understanding.
In the meantime, HMS will continue short-term testing in order to target students who are not proficient in core academic areas. By analyzing test results, we can adjust instruction to specific student needs. It is the intent of Hobbs Municipal Schools to provide a well-rounded education for every child.
In addition to classroom instruction, we consider athletics, theater, band, choir, FFA, Skills USA, consumer sciences and dozens of other classes to be just as vital to student achievement. I believe that every child who wants a great education at Hobbs Municipal Schools gets one. In some cases, however, our task is to convince every child to “want” that great education. This is a job that cannot fall on the shoulders of teachers alone. Community and parents are required to make the necessary commitments we all expect. Together we will make a positive academic difference in every child’s life. We are Hobbs Eagles and we will improve.